It’s safe to sleep in the loft–really!

My camp neighbor Joan was working in her garden yesterday when she felt something fly (at least, it felt like it flew) into her ear. A black fly, she thought. It’s black fly season in Maine, and those buggers are notorious for flying into eyes, ears, and open mouths. We’ve all inhaled more than a few over the years—coughed, sputtered, and spit, and finally decided swallowing was the best way to go. (If my vegan daughter spent more time outside at this time of the year, she wouldn’t actually be a vegan.)

A bug in your ear can drive you crazy if it stays there long, but it’s usually a brief annoyance: it either finds its way out, or you stick your finger in and remove it. When Joan couldn’t dig this one out with her finger, she asked her husband to take a look with a flashlight.

At first, Pete couldn’t see anything. Then, he said, he saw a leg. He went for the tweezers, grabbed hold of the leg, and carefully pulled.

What came out was not a black fly after all, but a spider, carrying an egg sac. It was a big spider, Joan said. (Apparently, from the way she spread her hands apart to show me, it was at least the size of a dinner plate.)

I asked her whether she had saved it. She said, with genuine regret, that when it fell to the floor and started to crawl away, Pete had dispatched it with his shoe.

We often have spider-squeamish visitors at camp, people who are reluctant to sleep upstairs in the loft because they fear being attacked by spiders in their sleep. I confess that, having spent about twenty summers sleeping in the camp loft, and never having had any interaction whatsoever with a spider up there, I have reacted to these fears with some impatience. (I may have gone so far as to use one of my mother’s favorite phrases, “Oh, don’t be ridiculous!”)

The worst part about this spider-in-the-ear incident is that it sounds like an urban legend come true. (Well, that’s the worst part for me, but then, I wasn’t the one with a spider in my ear.) If spiders actually can (and do) crawl into people’s ears, how am I going to reassure visiting arachnophobes that—despite the abundance of cobwebs in the loft—we seldom see any actual spiders up there—and so what if we did?

It’s not like they’re going to crawl into your ear or something.


My mom was prepared for every buggy situation at camp. I’d get rid of this stuff, but I think some of it might have antique value.


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