Several years ago, my uncle bought a house in Phoenix. It had been a rental for many years, and the small 'yard' between the house and the carport had been largely neglected. There's a shed to the one side that contains the washer and dryer, and it was home to spider central - many of them black widows. My uncle is not the spider lover that I am, and he bug bombed the bejesus out of the area, until it was mostly arachnid free. I say mostly, because there was one very sizable black widow that lived behind the siding of his house, accessible through the gap under his outside faucet. You don't know my uncle, but he's very quiet, introspective and intellectual. The image of him, sliding mission impossible style through his door, with a can of raid in both hands, trying to sneak up on this spider then jumping around the doorframe and letting go with both barrels (er, cans) only to have the spider escape uninjured AGAIN just makes me happy. He spent literally months trying to kill this thing - with cans of spray, with brooms and shoes and the hose and other assorted tools, and I'm not sure he ever got it - but his stories of his battles with the spider made my day on more than one occasion.
Flash forward to present day. My brother bought a house a year ago. His adventures in spider-cide have kept me entertained since he moved in. Picture, if you will, my brother with a raid can in one hand and his 'spider broom' in the other as he circles his house on a murderous rampage... The spiders outside appreciate, I think, that Scott cleans all those husks out of the way while they hide in the sliding.
At any rate, if you were to venture down into scott's mostly finished basement, you may spot the source of scott's current unrest. A large spider lives in a hole near his fake fireplace. Scott has been gunning for this thing for months. He's got a can of raid sitting on the steps, where he can grab it and charge for the hole. The other day, he came home and went downstairs to find the spider on the far wall - too far away from his hole to make it to safety. Scott, scenting triumph, decided that a more hands-on approach was called for, and went after the spider with his shoe. As the spider fled for its life, Scott smacked at it - and the spider knew to alter its pattern. Right before impact, the spider dodged and varied its speed, so Scott never connected... But he chased it all the way across the basement, where the spider dove into its hole. (I get pictures of Bugs Bunny swan diving into his hole after escaping Elmer Fudd in my head every time I picture this.)
Scott recently had a flooding problem. It rained all day, then it dumped 7" of rain in under four hours on the area. His sump pump decided that was the perfect time to die so Scott ended up with several inches of standing water in his basement. Apparently, at one point, Scott was sitting on his steps, watching the water rise, with his cat sitting next to him. Suddenly, Hammie's litter box came floating out of one room and past the steps. Apparently the look on the cat's face was almost worth the water. As Scott pondered the water levels in his basement, he noticed the spider, up high on the wall - also pondering the water in the basement. Scott said that the relief he felt upon realizing that the flood had not killed his adversary is making him rethink his position on killing it. He can't help but respect his enemy, and may end up leaving the spider alone.
Both my uncle and my brother swear that they can hear the spiders laughing at them. I think maybe they've both inhaled a bit too much insecticide.
And you know what? My other uncle had a spider episode many years ago in my grandmother's old house. The spider lived in the sink, and every time anyone made a grab for it, it would jump down the drain and escape. My uncle spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to kill that spider and finally one day, he snapped. He poured something flammable down the sink, then he sprayed a bunch of hairspray down the drain, and then... He lit a match and dropped that down the sink too. The resulting explosion blew off his eyebrows, but the most painful part of the experience for my uncle was having that damn spider pop back out of the drain. Hmm. He swore he could hear the spider laughing at him too. I'm beginning to sense a trend.
This is at least partly why I have a catch and release policy - my family does not have an impressive track record when it comes to doing away with our 8 legged neighbors.