“What’s miraculous about a spider’s web?” said Mrs. Arable. “I don’t see why you say a web is a miracle—it’s just a web.”
“Ever try to spin one?” asked Dr. Dorian.
from Charlotte’s Web
written by E. B. White
illustrated by Garth Williams
Harper and Brothers, 1952
E. B. White, genius that he was, gave a unique personality and a load of wisdom to a spider when he created Charlotte and her story, Charlotte’s Web.
My own spider story started when my husband called on his way to meeting his friends for their morning coffee.
“I’m calling so you don’t get scared,” he said when I picked up the phone. I wasn’t really scared, but a little more than curious.
“What’s up?” I asked, hoping I sounded more casual than I felt.
“There’s a big spider on the bedspread and I didn’t want you to be scared when you went in to make the bed. It’s black. and hairy.”
Well, that information did not help me feel less anxious. So. Do I just leave it there and hope that it stays where it is until he gets home and “deals with it”? It was a very cold morning. We are both of the same mind about killing bugs and such. It is the last resort. But I knew if he took the spider outside, it would freeze to death. If I left it alone, it might crawl under the covers and … !
So I decided to at least have a look. I’m not really afraid of spiders. We have the occasional daddy long-legs come for a visit. They keep to the basement and we leave each other alone. I don’t want to risk injuring one of those delicate long legs. They’re probably a lot sturdier than they look, but still. I see little spiders in corners sometimes, but this one was where we sleep. So I had a dilemma, a small one to be sure, so I went to have a look.
The spider on the bedspread was the opposite of big. It was much tinier than the nail on my pinkie finger, not counting its scrunched up legs. But it wasn’t thin. It looked, well, sturdy. Second, it wasn’t moving. Was it dead? or just sleeping? Since it wasn’t moving, I wasn’t about to startle it. So I went back to my coffee and my book and hoped for the best.
When my daughter called to check in on her way to work, I told her about the spider. “Why don’t you put a bowl over it and label it DO NOT REMOVE. SPIDER INSIDE”? she suggested.
That was a genius idea so I right away got a custard cup. The tiny spider might get lost in a bowl. I trapped it tight and since the cup was clear, I had no need for the sign.
Back to my book, again. And my coffee.
When my husband got home, I told him of my bright idea that was really my daughter’s bright idea. He found the little guy/girl? right away and put it safely in the garage.
I was left with a few questions and a blog idea.
I did not see the movie Arachnophobia even though IMdB lists it as horror/comedy. I don’t like horror films, I’m sure we don’t share the same kind of humor, and I’m sure it’s very unfair to spiders.
True, some spiders are poisonous, but according to The Burke Museum in Washington State, an affiliate of the Smithsonian, the introduction to its spider myths page claims, “[only] a few people have died from spider venom, but I know of no species anywhere on earth capable of causing death in humans in much more than 5% of cases, even if untreated.” Well, 5% is a very small amount, but still, it’s not nothing.
Encyclopedia Britannica provides an overview of nine dangerous spiders. Since spider venom is designed to incapacitate small animals, though, only about 30 of the more than 43,000 different species can be deadly to humans.
Sy Montgomery, in her book The Tarantula Scientist, (photographs by Nic Bishop and published by Houghton Mifflin, 2004), tells us that “[i]n fact, not one single person has ever died as a result of a tarantula bite.
She tells us spiders smell with their feet. Their blood is clear. They can regrow their legs. Spiders have eight eyes but don’t see well. Most spiders live only a season or two. Tarantulas can live for 30 years and have been around since the dinosaurs, more than 150 million years. But even as much as scientists know about spiders in general and tarantulas in particular, they still have many unanswered questions. Most of what they do know involves dangerous spiders and what to do if you encounter one.
According the Ohio Department of National Resources (ODNR), only two groups of spiders living in Ohio are dangerous to humans, black widows and brown recluse spiders. Neither of these is aggressive and both would rather stay away from people. But their bite, if it should happen, requires medical attention.
House Beautiful recommends ways to deter spiders from entering your home. Spiders don’t like strong, pungent smells. You can dilute peppermint oil in some water and spray it around the perimeters of windows and doors. If you have a sunny window, try a potted peppermint plant.
You can spray a solution of half water and half vinegar in nooks and crannies. It works the same way; the strong oder keeps spiders at bay.
Cinnamon sticks or a lit cinnamon-scented candle might do the trick. Or try a potpourri of citrus peels in a small dish on a bookcase or shelf. Scatter horse chestnuts around, if their strong scent is not unpleasant to you.
Daddy long-legs spiders, the ones that visit my basement now and then, really are harmless. So are those common house spider. We all just live and let live.
I’m reading The Tarantula Scientist by Sy Montgomery (see above) for research on the main character for a children’s novel I’m planning. She has a pet tarantula named Tula.
-—Be curious! (and careful raking up the leaf-litter)