Growing up in Ontario there aren’t really too many animals or insects that you need to worry about living in and or around your house. The spiders, as startling as they can be, aren’t going to kill you with a bite and the snakes are nothing to write National Geographic about. So being from Ontario and moving to the southern states, there was a lot for me to get used to.
When I was in Shreveport, Louisiana, I shared an apartment with two other players; Austin Sutter, from Red Deer, Alberta and John Decaro from Seattle, Washington. We were pretty naïve when it came to living in the south and especially naïve when it came to species of insects. Shortly after moving in, we began to notice a spider that had made a little web in the light fixture just outside the entrance door to the apartment. We would always say hello to the spider when we would come home and even gave it a name; Clifford.
One day, one of the other players that had been playing in Shreveport for the last five seasons stopped by our apartment and said, “You guys better get rid of that spider.” We laughed and said, “Come on, you’re not afraid of a little spider are you? That’s just our buddy Clifford. He’s the bouncer.” He replied, “Well I’m not afraid of spiders but I am afraid of brown recluses and that fellas, is what you have living just outside the door of your apartment.”
The brown recluse spider is a venomous breed of southern state spider. It is one of the most dangerous spiders in the US due to the necrotic effects of its venomous bites. If not immediately treated, the brown recluse bite can become fatal. It is not exactly the type of neighbour or housemate that you generally wish to have.
After finding out who Clifford really was, I grabbed my seven iron and the three of us played rock/paper/scissors to figure out who was going to get rid of our deadly doorman. Although it was kind of sad to kill Clifford in such a heartless manner, we were relieved that we discovered his true identity before the weather turned chillier and he decided to move in. The last thing we would want is a full-blown infestation.
After telling the boys at practice the next day, we found out it was pretty common to encounter some deadly critters day-to-day in the southern US. One of the elder team members who had become a permanent resident after marrying a local girl, told us about an encounter with two black widow spiders in his garage. He had been cleaning out the garage and the two unwanted tenants popped out after he moved a garbage bag.
The next season, when I was playing in Augusta in the ECHL there was a scary incident that landed one of our conference’s top scorers on the Injured Reserve (IR). Matt Reid, of the South Carolina Stingrays, was placed on the IR after receiving a bite from a deadly copperhead rattle snake. Reid, who owned and operated a pressure washing business on the side, was performing a job during a day off from the rink and accidentally stepped on the resting snake. Reid was rushed to hospital and received treatments for the deadly bite, but had to miss nearly two weeks of action during recovery.