Sunday, September 18, 2011


I've heard that the greatest fear is the fear of the unknown. That learning helps you fight fear because it takes away the mystery, it helps you prepare yourself and approach things you would reflexively retreat from.

We have a lot of spiders here. A lot of them. Spiders don't generally freak me out. I catch them and put them outside and don't panic when I see one nearby. Then, two years ago during my internship at NW Trek there were a lot of spiders in the intern house and there was a sign on the door detailing the venomous spiders of North America. I figured the sign was on the door because I needed to be on the lookout for venomous spiders everywhere I went. I was later reassured that this wasn't true, because Washington state doesn't really have venomous spiders and the ones we do have live in eastern Washington and only show up as hitchhikers. Even so, I started trying to identify the spiders I saw most often and learning about them. I didn't encounter a single venomous spider, mostly a lot of orb weavers and I was confident I'd overcome the fear of spiders I had left.

Until I came down here. In the South, everything can kill you. Everything is venomous. I was pretty secure about my spider thing until someone found a black widow in her web on a bicycle. I'd never seen one before and they're the most famous venomous spider. It put me on my guard. Then I started seeing huntsmen spiders. Female huntsmen can be huge. Absolutely huge. I've done okay around the 1-2 inchers but the other day there was one that was at least 3 inches across, possibly larger. She was huge. And skittering around in the folds of some clear plastic very quickly, and guarding an enormous egg sac. Awful, awful, awful. I tried to be brave and go back to what I was doing but she ran again and I couldn't do it and even felt a little queasy. Too much of a spider in a place where all the spiders are dangerous.

I hate being scared. I hate it so much. It's unnecessary and a waste of energy.

So I came home and started up my spider research again. Huntsmen are generally not dangerous. They are non-aggressive and the bite may hurt but won't kill you or cause tissue necrosis. The time to watch out for them is when they are guarding eggs, in the late summer, because they get more aggressive, but their instinct is to run and hide.

I looked up some other spiders, too, the ones I do have to watch out for. Like widows. Widows have weird webs and a lot of distinctive markings, which helps. But they are also pretty non-aggressive. We have black widows and brown widows, and I've now seen both. I saw a strange looking web today in a spider where we frequently put our hands so I got a stick to see what spider was living in it and uncovered a little brown widows. Which I correctly identified because of my spider research. Instead of panicking and killing it, I showed it to everyone and then let it be.

The big huntsmen might take me awhile to get used to, but I'm another step close to getting over a fear I don't need. I need to know about spiders, where they might be, what to look for, and what to do if someone gets bitten, but a fear response is unnecessary. And would likely be counterproductive. And the bigger huntsmen eat cockroaches so I want them around.

Other than this lesson in fear conquering, not much has been going on. I have some pictures but most of them are behind the scenes so I can't post them.

I did get a pretty good picture of the tiger boys, Bhoja and Adee, that I can post, though.

Aren't they awesome?

This post got me looking up quotes on fear and sometimes looking up quotes is pretty inspirational. I recommend it.

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