Arachnophobia

     I have arachnophobia, which is the fear of spiders and other arachnids. From what I have read, my case of arachnophobia is a mild one. I used to be like most kids and had a curiosity about bugs. I don’t remember being afraid of them. I did have a healthy respect for red wasps and yellow paper wasps after some painful stings. My arachnophobia began one autumn when I was about 9 years old. I was standing up against a honeysuckle covered chain link fence talking to a friend who was in her back yard nearby. When the conversation ended I turned away from the fence and saw a large, yellow spider coming at me! At least I thought it was after me. I yelled and flailed and the spider ended up on the ground. What probably happened was that I had gotten caught up in the spider’s web and as I moved away I pulled her with me. This scared the heck out of me and for many years after that I had a real fear of all spiders. If a spider was in a movie scene, I had to close my eyes.

Fast forward twenty years to when I started to take photography seriously, especially the photography of all things “nature.” I started to lose a bit of my spider fear. As long as there was a camera lens between me and a spider, I was able to get pretty close to take their picture. Some spiders have really pretty colors and patterns that can only be seen and appreciated up close.

     In our household I am usually the go to person to get rid of insects inside the house. I would rather capture them and escort them outside than to kill them. My daughter and husband rely on me to remove what they consider pests. We took a trip to visit a family member living in Nicaragua a few years ago. My daughter came out of the bathroom telling me about a big spider in the shower. Mommy to the rescue! However, I took one look at the size of this spider and went and found someone else to remove it. I still didn’t want to get close to the really big ones such as tarantulas.

     I often go out with other nature lovers to help with the weekly fauna survey out at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Research Center here in Austin. We are true nature nerds who get excited about almost any tiny insect creature we find, as well as the birds, cottontails, and reptiles. Learning about various spiders and their habits on that property has contributed to my lessening spider phobia.

     Recently I spotted a small garden spider in a web in a trash can half full of yard trimmings. I was excited to see her since it had been a long time since we have had one in the yard. I asked my husband to not use that trash can so she could keep her web. He said “Okay.” Well, he is not as excited about all of these little critters and forgot about her. I went back a week and a half later and I could not see the spider or her web. There was a pile of plant cuttings where her web had been. I was not happy with hubby! But, a few days later she and her web showed up again in the trash can. She is growing bigger and I check on her every few days. I have named her Charlotte. Her web now extends out of the trash can and onto the plant growing on our fence nearby. Guess what the plant is? You guessed it, a honeysuckle vine! I have come a long way from fearing to loving and protecting these pretty creatures. I am wishing her the best and look forward to seeing at least one egg sac this autumn. She will die before the eggs hatch and I will miss her and her lovely web.

Back view of Charlotte, the Black and yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia)
(photos by B. McCreary) (identification based on “Spiders of Texas-A Guide to Common and Notable Species” by Valerie G. Bugh)
Charlotte’s Underside

 

Published by

bettymccreary7347

Born and raised in Central Texas. Spending time outside brings me joy and I love to share my observations. I also belong to two writing groups and enjoy researching my ancestors. I find people interesting, but Nature keeps me sane.

12 thoughts on “Arachnophobia”

  1. Charlotte is indeed gorgeous … and industrious … overcoming a pile of debris dumped on her chosen space. I have always had a fascination with spider webs, a bit envious of the spider’s ability to “spin” from within her body. Perhaps that’s a spider’s poetry?

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  2. I enjoy this blog Betty. I guess you will recall my famous photo of the Wolf Spider with lots of babies on her back. I only knew this when I saw it enlarged on my computer. Charlotte has sister or relative behind the taller hedges in my front yard, right where I slip in to trim the tops. She has a large orb web with the zipper as you show so well in your photos. They are truly a pretty spider. Glad she crawled out from under the debris and re-built. I’ve seen them hatch out and they are very many in number. Also, I’ve seen them have more than one egg sack off in a corner.

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    1. Thanks Joan! Yes, I remember your photo. I saw one of those mommas covered with babies in my lawn years ago. I think I may also have taken a photo of her and family.
      And my Charlotte does have a cousin with a web in a different part of our backyard.

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  3. Loved your post. I too am the one who carries the bugs outside rather than kill them. If I have any fear, it comes from scary movies about retaliating critters. I also love that you call her Charlotte – one of my favorite books is Charlotte’s Web.

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    1. Thank you Sarah! Yes, I have memories of scary movies. And there used to be a t.v. show called Night Gallery (?) I think. There was an episode where a woman flushed a spider down the drain and it came back bigger. That one really has stayed with me.

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  4. As a child, I also loved bugs and all kinds of creepy creatures. I had a bug collection an ant farm and a pet salamander and several turtles. But as an older adult I’m not so crazy about these creatures. I used to go camping and I didn’t mind any thing in its natural environment. I think mostly I am okay with them if I’m out hiking (still fascinated and not afraid of reptiles, getting more excited than scared when encountering rattlesnakes – at a good, safe distance, of course), but I do NOT like an of them being in the house. And I do not like any of them inside or out if they appear to be coming toward me! I’ve run screaming from palo verde bugs! Having said all that, I loved your essay and I can certainly appreciate the beauty of little Charlotte, and I’m glad you are enjoying her too-short life.

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