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Zen and the art of stomping spiders February 15, 2012

Posted by therealtinlizzy in spiders.

There’s a lovely little blog I stumbled on just now…let’s see, who tweeted it…the twitters they move so fast that by the time I’ve read a post s/times I forget whence it came…ah – it was via @myrmecos, someone whose insect/spider photography is well – balls awesome (and what more of a ringing endorsement could you want/need).

Anyway – blog post in question was about how spiders don’t bite. Well, no it turns out that yes actually s/times they do, but more often than not spider-bites are misattributions – either bites from other, non-spider ilk or s/thing else entirely. One of the reasons, the author tells us, that spiders don’t bite as much as we (or maybe just I) think they do,  is that most of them can’t get their delicate little pokey chompy things to even break human skin. There’s actually an adorable photo of a wolf spider trying with all its might to nom the hell out of the author’s finger, to no avail.  However – this author notes – it’s not for lack of trying. Maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe it does.

Those who know me understand I have a complicated, and perhaps even a bit neurotically fixated, relationship with spiders. Some of them I adore and find cuddly enough to cuddle – if it wouldn’t result in them being squished. Some of them I’m bloody well terrified of, possessed of the belief they should not exist, or at the very least should die at the earliest opportunity.

One species of arachnid in particular over which I’m in constant seek-and-destroy mode in my own home is the yellow sac spider.

(Oh and according to the U of Nebraska – Lincoln website I nicked this from – who should you look for if you’ve got a spider bite? Oh yeah, these guys.)

So being in constant seek-and-destroy mode in one’s own home sounds like a rather upset, perhaps bordering-on-hysterical state-of-being, you know – considering home should be your cozy, comfy, safe place in the world. But really, it’s actually a very zen state of mind – I feel very calm about constantly scanning the upper corners of the room, shaking out clothing that has been on a shelf, hanger or floor for a period of time, checking the folds of the shower curtain, checking under my pillow before I climb into bed. My blood pressure and heart rate remain entirely in the cool, calm and collected zone while in scan mode.

The only momentary shattering of the extreme zen is when one of these sac spiders is actually discovered/unearthed/drops-on-me-from-above. At this point what occurs is manifestation of a state that presents as not entirely unlike a blend of Tourette’s and outright hysteria (but a cold, calculated Tourette’s-ish hysteria). Once the triggering arachnid is extinguished (usually via pummeling by whatever means is at hand), and after a few further strings of reflexive profanity, as well as further over-wrought stomping/pounding of what used to be said spider, I then revert immediately to the relaxed calm of scanning mode.

This didn’t start out to be an extended exposition on my spider neurosis exactly, I actually was just going to post the comment I left on Arthropod Ecology’s blog post. Because what’s more meta and better (mettar?) than posting one’s comment left on someone else’s blog post as a post on one’s own blog. Mostly it’s just because I like to talk about spiders, and I don’t do it here nearly enough.

So in response to AE’s very informative post:

Hey thanks for this. I’m a recovering arachnophobe and I have a love/hate relationship with spiders: some I absolutely adore (Orb weavers, jumpers), some I absolutely hate. I respect them all, think they’re brilliantly elegant, beautiful, amazing creatures. Some of them also terrify me. I even got a spider tattoo in my quest to embrace them (metaphorically speaking) and the complicated relationship I have with them.

I’ll buy your assertions that spiders bite way less often than they’re ascribed to. However – the ones that I most loathe (even while rather admiring their m.o. and survivability) and which everything I’ve read seems to indicate do bite, are yellow sac spiders (sorry that sentence isn’t remotely grammatically correct). They are ubiquitous here in central MN, although I never saw them growing up in far northern MN. Due to their hunter/stalking nature they get damn everywhere, as they tuck/sac themselves into any/every nook/cranny you can imagine – which unfortunately includes lots of places that put them into contact with me. I’ve flicked or unkindly disposed of them (s/times in their sacs) from beneath collars, in folded up clothing, in my bedding, in folds of shower curtain, dropping on me from above (that thing they do!) and most visibly in the corners of rooms.

I’ve learned to not anthropomorphize the unfortunate creatures, to not ascribe nefarious and malicious intentions/motives to them. I try to remember that their no-not-at-all-creepy stalker/hunter m.o. and springing-at-me-from-everywhere is good for me because they nom bugs I don’t like/want in my house. I try to remember that if/when they do bite, it’s likely from being startled/upset – not because of a house-wide plot to kill me, and that hey at least it’s not lethal. I try, I really try – but I haven’t yet mastered my fear/outrage/violence towards them such that I don’t stomp/squish them to pieces whenever they’re within reach (and even s/times they’re not). In the end I find it hard to be friends or even peaceful co-existers when they’re constantly invading my privacees.


1. Stefanie - February 16, 2012

Oh, I’m sure the spiders in your house are out to get you especially now that you have publically admitted to squishing them 😉 We live peacefully with the spiders at my house. But when we were in CA I was always on the alert for black widow spiders. They would sometimes make an appearance in a dark corner of our apartment and given that these spiders do bite and can make you sick (my mom got bit by one when she was a kid and still has a scar from it), I would smash the hell out them whenever I’d find one. Thankfully, I have never seen one of their kind in MN.

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