Apparently, black widows favor a warm climate, which is probably why I saw so many of them around my childhood home in Arizona. Black widows don't like the daylight, possibly because they are black and would absorb a lot of heat from direct sunlight. Even when the spiders were hiding, it was easy to identify their webs, which are incredibly strong, supposedly stronger than the same thickness of steel. If a web I was inspecting could catch and hold a small twig dropped on it without breaking any strands, it was definitely was made by a black widow.

The black widows near my house were particularly fond of building their webs in corners, and would quickly scrunch themselves up in there as tightly as they could when disturbed. When that happened, whacking at them with a shoe was futile; they could only be touched with a pointy stick or with fire.

That's right; I was officially allowed by my parents to battle black widow spiders with fire. At first, it was only to destroy their white, pea-sized egg sacs (it was thought that some individual eggs might survive a mere squishing of the sac), but it gradually evolved to lightly spritzing the spiders themselves with Aquanet or rubbing alcohol and lighting it with a match, creating a barely audible woof. Since the exterior of the house was mostly brick, and the surrounding pavement was concrete, there was little risk of burning down the house or starting a brush fire.

It wasn't just typical childhood pyromania that led me to fighting spiders with fire. Anyone who wonders why I didn't simply use bug spray has obviously not encountered many black widow spiders. These tough bitches drank Raid and Black Flag like it was orange juice, perhaps a screwdriver, if you consider the way some of the stronger store-bought insecticide sprays sometimes intoxicated and disoriented the spider without actually killing it. A dazed black widow will just hang, stupefied, in midair, making it much more dangerous to pets and humans than a healthy black widow that still has enough wits to hide during the day.

If fire was out of the question and I had to use a spray to kill a black widow, I would use oven cleaner every time. I will attempt to describe the thrill of killing things with spray-on oven cleaner. A black widow hit with a glop of oven cleaner goes into a full freakout before it dies, running in circles, twitching, and flipping over like something out of a Warner Brothers cartoon. Unfortuately, not every surface is suitable for spraying with oven cleaner, even if a black widow lives there.

As a world-class juvenile black widow hunter, I had developed my own rationale and code of ethics concerning my slaughter of these living creatures. Black widows in the wild are a necessary part of nature, even a desirable part, considering the sheer number of insect pests they devour. However, they are not as important as the safety of humans and their pets, so it was necessary to create boundaries to keep them out of the house and away from entrances. I followed orders, contributed to the safety of my family, and killed with quickness to minimize suffering. Except for the oven cleaner part, because - let's face it - that shit was cool.