Are giant spiders attacking Mountlake Terrace? It may look like one commercial building on 220th Street Southwest is under siege, but the spiders actually represent the defensive forces in this war.
Hanging at the top corners of the 6806-220th St. S.W. building are nine bird deterrent “Attack Spiders,” battery-operated plastic spiders that drop down an 18-inch string when activated by sound. The devices were purchased by a top-floor tenant of the building in order to fight off northern flickers, a type of woodpecker that has been the real enemy perpetrating the attack.
“We first noticed the problem about a year ago,” said Karen Oliver of Destination Marketing. “The woodpeckers would make holes in the veneer of the building, then sparrows or starlings would nest in the holes.”
With a prime view of the problem from her third-floor office, Oliver could watch the front-line skirmishes — the flickers pecking away at an exterior wall of the building.
A case of 24 Attack Spiders was drafted in order to combat the flickers. But initial engagements started out poorly as spiders stationed outdoors at the top corners of the building began malfunctioning during poor weather.
“The rain would get in through the spiders legs,” explained Jennifer Rodriguez, another staff member at Destination Marketing. “So we made these ponchos for them.” Plastic rain bonnets were attached to the top of the spiders, and now “they seem to be working,” Rodriguez noted.
Oliver and Rodriguez also confessed that at times the wind can activate the spiders into action.
Settling on a war plan against the feathered invaders has been problematic for building caretakers. The flicker is one of 800 protected species on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, and killing the bird is illegal. Before purchasing the Attack Spiders, a few other battle tactics were deployed, including streamers and Mylar balloons. “The birds would just peck the balloons,” chuckled Rodriguez.
Now that the Attack Spiders have proven their mettle, the generals have no qualms about sending more to the front lines; Destination Marketing has 15 more spiders in a box awaiting deployment.
Destination Marketing may not be only ones satisfied with the Attack Spiders’ battle effectiveness; the manufacturer is reporting that their product is currently out ofstock and no more are available until late May.
— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski