I saved a life today, I'm sure of it. It's the only way I can live with myself.
I was doing some electrical work on a roof in Breakfast Point, changing out some old outdoor lights today.
I got through the job pretty quick because (I like to tell myself) I'm the best electrician in Sydney (these little affirmations get me through the day), and as I went to pick up the old light fittings I noticed a beautiful spider hanging out near the rubble.
I'm a nature lover you see, so I looked upon him with fondness and he brought a smile to my face.
He may have been a she, for that matter, I don't mind, I don't know what the gender neutral term for a spider is though, and I'm sure you understand that I don't mean to offend, I felt an affinity toward the spider that will henceforward be referred to with the pronoun he.
That smile on my face lasted only a few seconds though, because as I got closer, I noticed a very distinct red marking on the back of said spider.
I am originally from Britain, and I've been an Electrician in Australia for a good 12 years, but, I've never seen the infamous "red back spider" before. I've heard tales about their notoriety, I've been warned about their deathly venom, but I've never actually accounted one (that I am aware of officer).
Not wanting it to be true, I took a photo of the little fella and emailed it to some local friends requesting an identification of species...
The response was resounding and a little overwhelming...
RED BACK SPIDER - KILL IT
I wanted a second opinion. I got.
DANGER - DO NOT MUCK ABOUT - KILL IT.
Aussies are so aggressive when it comes to these things.
I googled red back spider, and sure enough, it was like I was looking at photos of him and his family.
I googled, "Are red back spiders poisonous"? and got more information from the Australian Museum, they seemed like a pretty credible source. Turns out only the females are dangerous. Phew, my little fella is safe. But then I read further, and was indecisive about whether he was actually a she.
In this day and age are all red back spiders equal? Should I be discriminating against males and females? How can I be sure of the sex of a spider?
I'm ashamed to say that I squished the spider. Sorry. I didn't want to put a young person at risk of being bitten by said spider.
I don't feel like a hero or anything, I feel like a bit of a monster. Poor spider, just hanging out in a light fitting not hurting anyone. Some big scary electrician kills you for no reason. Please accept this seemingly meaningless blog post as an ode to your death.