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GENERATIONS: Sue Bruns: Where's the Critter Catcher when I need it?

Let me preface this story by saying that I am not afraid of spiders.

I like spiders. They are helpful creatures that do their best to control pesky insects. They weave artistic, transparent tapestries that capture morning dew and catch the light to reveal their intricate construction. Frequent readings of "Charlotte's Web" when my children were young convinced me to relocate rather than destroy spiders.

That said, I like spiders outside my house. But when I find a spider inside, I fetch My Critter Catcher—that's the actual commercial name of the "personal bug, spider and insect trap" that safely catches and relocates arachnids and insects. The descriptor for the device says it works on everything from roaches to scorpions, crickets to stink bugs, millipedes to moths and even stinging insects like wasps and bees. My application has been limited to spiders because I do not usually have biting, stinking, or chirping insects in my house.

The product description also emphasizes that the device "keeps you and the insect safe—no direct contact with the bug and no mess." No mess! I admit that the mess and the sickening muffled crunch that comes from stepping on most insects is something that makes me cringe as much as fingernails on a blackboard (a reference that has no relevance for today's students). The product is also "100 percent eco-friendly and chemical-free."

I purchased My Critter Catcher about a year ago and am quite adept with it now. With minimal practice, I have safely relocated several spiders from inside the cabin, house, garage or porch to the great outdoors where these lovely creatures were meant to be. I keep the device in the entryway closet. When I discover a spider in need of relocation, I remove the protective cover from the expandable brush end of the wand, squeeze the grip at the opposite end, place the widened brush carefully over the spider, and release the handle to capture the critter. Then I open the door and squeeze the handle again to free the spider safely outside. (This preface has gotten a little longer than I intended, but I needed to set the scene for the story I am about to tell.)

One day in September, as Gary and I returned home from town, he pulled the car up to the mailbox, removed the mail and handed it to me. It took me no more than half a second to notice the large wolf spider perched atop the small stack of mail, and, much as I love and am not afraid of spiders, I instinctively screamed and involuntarily tossed the stack of mail into the air.

I found myself trapped in the car with scattered bills, campaign literature and a book from Amazon, all easily retrievable, but the quarter-sized spider was nowhere to be seen. My Critter Catcher, safely stored in the closet, was of no use to me in the car. As Gary proceeded up the driveway, I searched for the missing arachnid.

"Don't put the car in the garage!" I screamed. "I've got to find him." (I don't know why I assumed the spider was male.) Gary, who hadn't seen the spider, was quite amused by my squirming, my feet up on the dashboard as I peered down at the carpet of the vehicle, which is about the same color as a wolf spider. "I can't let him into the garage or let him stay in my car!"

Finally, I spotted him. "There he is!"

Gary parked the vehicle and went inside, chuckling and shaking his head, leaving me to deal with this monstrous spider by myself. I opened the passenger door, an invitation to the great outdoors, but the spider didn't move. "I'll just grab the carpet piece and carry him out in it," I thought, which would have been a good idea if the carpet hadn't been held in place with a strip of grippy Velcro.

I took a large envelope from the pile of scattered mail and held it just in front of the beer-coaster-sized spider. He cooperated nicely by climbing aboard. With a flick of my wrist, I launched him a safe distance into the grass. Then I parked my car inside and closed the garage door.

When I went inside, Gary was standing in the hallway, a smirk on his face—in his hand the no-longer-needed Critter Catcher.

"It's taken care of," I said, and then to excuse my frantic reaction in the car, I added, "Well, you never saw the thing, did you? It was the size of a dinner plate!"

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