Posts Tagged ‘Spiders’


Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Lists of Top Ten Things People Fear vary a bit from source to source. Fear of vomiting (who knew?) shows up on some. Fear of death shows up on far fewer lists than public speaking. (I guess that’s good news, since public speaking is the more avoidable of the two activities.) A fair number of people fear dogs. More fear snakes. But one fear shows up on almost every list: Arachnophobia.

I suppose every kind of spider engenders unease among those made anxious by the eight-legged, from the gorgeous pastel flower spiders that lurk between the layered skirts of zinnia petals to the ridiculously marionette-like Daddy-Long-Legs that aren’t actually spiders at all. (And, while we’re at it, spiders aren’t insects. It’s the season of deception all around.) But the dark and hairy ones (we’re talking tarantula!) are clearly the hang-in-the-window Halloween fearmongering favorites.

We don’t have indigenous tarantulas up here in the BosNYWash corridor. We have crab spiders and orb weavers and wolf spiders. We have spiders that spin silk funnels in the hostas and spiders that set up housekeeping in the corners of our bedrooms, spiders so small they escape our notice and spiders so richly colored and robustly shaped we can’t fail to notice them clinging to their web sails in the garden. But they all have one important thing in common: they want nothing to do with us. NOTHING. They wrap their prey in silk and hang them up like country hams to dry. They pierce them with their vampire fangs, inject them with enzymes that liquify their innards, and suck them up like smoothies. They are frighteningly effective predators. But they don’t want US.

There are creatures that want us. Mosquitoes want us. While the males happily feed on nectar, the females’ biological drives set the 72 types of odor detectors on their antennae twitching. When they find us, they inject a cocktail of anaesthesia and anticoagulants and sip our body sap like Bloody Marys. Black flies, midges, fleas and no-see-ums leave calling cards of itchy welts behind their hematophagous feasts. Bedbugs want to get far too close to us while we sleep, and a variety of head and body lice want to hang with us night and day. Chiggers dig their way into our flesh in order to nibble on the inner layer of our skin. Eye gnats are crazy about our lachrymal secretions. And let’s not even discuss the human botfly.

You know what we need to protect us from the creatures that prey on us like this?

– Sharron Cohen