Archive | July 2012

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf…er…Spider?

When I was very young I played with spiders – or so I’m told.  I don’t remember doing so.  All I remember is being afraid of them.  When exactly did I change from curiosity to fear?  Maybe when I slept outside and received a spider bite that caused my hand to swell up like an inflated latex glove?  Nah, I thought it was kinda neat.  Maybe I adopted the behavior from a sibling who hated all things crawly and jumpy.  I’m not sure of the cause.

What I do remember are a series of encounters with members of the arachnid family that evoked a definite fearful reaction on my part.  A few more memorable events include..

          Spending a week in an old house owned by relatives that had been taken over by spiders of all shapes and sizes – some with, some without webs, due to the house’s state of uninhabitedness.  I spent the entire time skirting webs and watching the ceiling and walls of my bedroom for these dangerous invaders.  One morning a rather large black spider accommodated me by walking on the ceiling to the center point above my bed and then dropping by a silken thread down onto my bed where I, prepared to battle for my life, smooshed it with one of my shoes until it was very, very, very dead.

          The wolf spider whose warp speed trek across the carpet had me dancing on my tiptoes up on a chair.

          The dessert plate sized spider that climbed up my back and onto my shoulder.

          The total spider invasion of ’83 (or there-about) that had me tearing my bed apart before sleeping in it to ensure a spiderless slumber.

My phobia hit a turning point when I arrived home at 3 am from an enjoyable evening of dancing to find 3 respectably large, black, hairy spiders in eight-legged repose, their bodies contrasting quite visibly with the light yellow of my living room wall.   Too tired and happy to bother with being scared, I told them to stay in the living room, thank you very much, I’m going to bed.

From that point on, I decided that being so afraid of spiders was a waste of energy and have been working to change that ever since.

Learning to communicate with animals (google ‘animal communication’ – it’s everywhere!) has had a huge impact.  I have discovered that spiders have myriad personalities which vary by species as well as by individual.

So while I still like most spiders better outdoors than in, my house does sport a fair number of arachnids who assist, among other things, with controlling the local cricket population in my basement.  So have I transcended my arachnophobic past?  I like to think so.

Fast forward to yesterday, where I was busily removing the ever-voracious wisteria from its vacation home in the neighboring butterfly bush and bamboo.  Neither of the latter are faint hearted, tender plants, but they were still at risk of being totally covered over by this kudzu wannabe.

I finished the job and started hauling the mass of cuttings across the yard to the compost pile.  On one of my trips back after dumping a bunch more clippings, I happened to glance down at my hand and there, between my thumb and forefinger, was a pretty, small, light yellow-brown hunter with brown markings on its body.  My calm, considered reaction?

UGH!  SPIDER!!  And I immediately blew it off my hand.

Before she even hit the ground I could hear Miss Spider yelling, “FAIL! and laughing herself silly as she scuttled off through the leaves.   That was when I realized that I was being tested.  Her sole purpose in staying on my hand was to test whether or not I was truly over my fear of spiders.  And my immediate reaction to the unexpected, close proximity of a small eight-legged arthropod was still totally fear based.  

I totally flunked.  Sigh.

Oh well, more work to be done.  One of these days I’ll pass.  Progress reports to follow…