DEAR ABBY: As a longtime postal carrier, I found the letter you printed from the carrier in Las Vegas interesting and frightening. I, too, find spiders in mailboxes. Sometimes I shoo them out; sometimes they run and hide. When they’re black widows, I usually try to squish them. But I never want my customers to spray poisons into or around their mailboxes!

Once a poison has been applied to the mailbox, it will be transferred not only to the letters placed inside but also to the hands that retrieve them and the nose that inhales while the person is standing at the mailbox.

Furthermore, spiders are not easy to poison. The spray has to land on the spider to be effective. I have seen people drench their mailboxes with spray because harmless ants have used it as a temporary shelter. (The ants would have moved on in a few days.) However, the TV Guide the family will be handling the entire week is now soaked in poison.

Please warn readers to look inside their mailboxes before reaching in. It’s a safer way to avoid contact with spiders, and it’s simpler. – SUSAN S., NORTH HIGHLANDS, CALIF.

Call me an arachnophobe, but if I saw a black widow spider, my first reaction would be to call an exterminator. However, I have heard from several other mail carriers, and all echoed your sentiments.

Read on:

DEAR ABBY: You don’t need to use bug spray in the mailbox. A mothball in the mailbox will keep ALL the critters out! – JANET L., BOWLING GREEN, MO.

I’m passing along your remedy, but if those who decide to try it have sensitivity to mothballs, I urge them to think twice and consult their physician first. (And please remember to ask your postal carrier if he or she is allergic.)

DEAR ABBY: When I was growing up, my older sister, “Lisa,” beat me up frequently. It started when I was 3 and she was 6. The beatings continued until I was 12. Then she started doing other things – like spraying hairspray in my eyes and telling our parents I did it to myself, or breaking the zipper on my backpack just as I was getting on the school bus. One time, Lisa maneuvered me into the back seat of my brother’s car and whispered for him to slam on the brakes. She held on and laughed while I was thrown against the front seat and cut my head.

My parents never said a word to her, and my mother always sided with her against me. I went through years of depression but finally graduated from college and got on with my life.

Now that we are adults, Lisa thinks we should be friends. I think now, after all she did to me, she should leave me alone and let me live in peace. What do you think? – TIRED OF HER ABUSE IN ARIZONA

I agree. Your sister was a malicious brat, but I fault your parents for turning a blind eye instead of stopping the abuse. I don’t blame you for wanting little or nothing to do with your childhood abuser. Under the circumstances, it’s a logical decision. The time for building a close and loving relationship was years ago.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447.

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