Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'm an arachnophobe.  I've gotten better over the years through desensitization, but there are some things that still make me freak out.  I don't know why!  I know spiders are small and easily managed.  This doesn't help me.

I know most of them don't have painful bites, but it's not the bite that freaks me out anyway, though I don't consider their bites trivial either.  I don't know if an arachnophobe can adequately describe how a spider's movements send a shudder of alarm through the system, though it's not all that different from the movements of a beetle, a bug I'll willingly (and in the case of a ladybug, eagerly) pick up.  The sizes and textures that spiders come in, again, aren't that radically different from many insects.  There are lots of hairy, spikey, long and short legged insects of various dispositions that have spider-like qualities.  It's not the webs per se either.  I have a fascination for webs.  Yeah, they're unpleasant to get across the face (bleh!!!!!) but they're not radically different from tent caterpillars or spider mites or any number of silk-producing critters.  In fact, in a side-by-side comparison, tent caterpillar nests are weirder, nastier, dirtier, and more extensive in most cases.  But what freaks me out?  The spider web.  The spider crawling on the wall (or on me!)  Teh yarg factor when it comes to spiders has no comparison in Kami's little world of fears.

Last night, little baby spiders hatched.  I think more than one nest has hatched at the same time, because we have them both in the kitchen and in my office.  Normally I get all weird about killing spiders.  There's something just as unpleasant, if not more unpleasant, about killing them or having them killed as there is having them running around in my space.  Whereas a squished fly fills me with satisfaction, a squished spider sends shudders of horror through my system.  I know this makes no sense!  

Anyway, I'll make an exception for massive spider slaughter when it comes to baby spiders.  There's nothing for it but vacuuming.  Because they get everywhere.  They drip from the ceiling, and make little spider highways that dangle and loop and bridge from light fixtures to corner nooks and across doorways.  At least with baby spiders, my arachnophobia doesn't go into full heebie jeebie panic dance mode.  Even my twisted, pitifully insecure, irrational brain won't respond with a full adrenaline dump to a pale dot drifting through the air.  But I still find it really, really unpleasant, and now I itch all over.

Oh, oh!  Maybe I can make a comparison that non-arachnophobes can relate to.  Lice.  My reaction to spiders is like most people's reaction to lice.  You don't care if they're not on you personally, right?  The horror--and nothing feels clean for a long time, and there's the obsessive laundry washing and bagging of toys and going to the store for shampoos, combs, anything ...  except with spiders, I don't have to poison myself.  They're much easier to get rid of.  My emotional reaction to them, however, is just about the same.  Close enough to get a feel for it.  And just like parents of middle school students that have to deal when the inevitable time comes when the child comes home with a note from the teacher, I have to deal with spiders, especially when I garden.  Unlike lice, however, spiders often just drop right in front of your face with a happy "Surprise!"  And they're everywhere.  All the time.

Some spiders are just so cool, I can appreciate them.  Preferably at a distance.  Tarantulas are one group I can tolerate pretty well.  And the common yellow and black garden spiders argiope aurantia (which around here are actually uncommon) are full of awesome.  (My local ones tend to be yellow and brown, but they're the same species.)  Maybe because they're polite and remain outside at all times.  Anyway, though I wouldn't be thrilled to have one crawling on my arm, the fact that this is unlikely to happen fills me with admiration and relief.  Most large orb weavers drop to the ground as quickly as possible when their webs are disturbed, and leave us poor humans alone.  Now that's a spider I can like.


Things that puzzle this other goddess.... said...

I so despise spiders that I taught my children when they learned all those sounds that various animals make, like cows go moo, ducks go quack...spiders go squish...and I don't really feel guilty.

Except I seem to be followed out here by these d@mned albino spiders that just, totally, creep. me. out. Uck!

Kami said...

Spiders. I love the role they play in our ecosystem, since they help keep down the still huge insect load, but brrr!

This time of year is a tough time for spiders but I still have a hard time pitying them, even when I see them attacked. (Because they're so big, they're easier victims for hungry birds, and this is also the time of year when parasitic wasps find their victims. I saw such a wasp taking on a spider the other day. Ugh. Gave me very ambivalent feelings.)