Spiders: Friends That We Fear

Spiders rarely use venom on man unless molested

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British giant house spider.  Speed and size is frightening, but quite harmless and can be handled.Battle between wasp and spider.  The spider invariably looses to the more agile wasp   and is quickly paralyzed.  flikr.com pic.Wandering Spider:  dangerous because of amount of venom, pugnacity and habits.Funnel Web (Aust.) Potentially most deadly because of size:  Non threatening behaviour if left alone in its hole.The Brown Recluse has particularly nasty and complex venom which can cause necrotic arachnidism.  Found in S. USA, etc.Black Widow.  Named because eats male, not because it might make you into a widow! Very potent venom.  Note red, fiddle shaped mark.  Not aggressive unless molested Brown Recluse showing small size.  Very dangerous because of habits and horror-story venom.
British giant house spider.  Speed and size is frightening, but quite harmless and can be handled.
British giant house spider. Speed and size is frightening, but quite harmless and can be handled.
Battle between wasp and spider.  The spider invariably looses to the more agile wasp   and is quickly paralyzed.  flikr.com pic.
Battle between wasp and spider. The spider invariably looses to the more agile wasp and is quickly paralyzed. flikr.com pic.
Wandering Spider:  dangerous because of amount of venom, pugnacity and habits.
Wandering Spider: dangerous because of amount of venom, pugnacity and habits.
Funnel Web (Aust.) Potentially most deadly because of size:  Non threatening behaviour if left alone in its hole.
Funnel Web (Aust.) Potentially most deadly because of size: Non threatening behaviour if left alone in its hole.
The Brown Recluse has particularly nasty and complex venom which can cause necrotic arachnidism.  Found in S. USA, etc.
The Brown Recluse has particularly nasty and complex venom which can cause necrotic arachnidism. Found in S. USA, etc.
Black Widow.  Named because eats male, not because it might make you into a widow! Very potent venom.  Note red, fiddle shaped mark.  Not aggressive unless molested
Black Widow. Named because eats male, not because it might make you into a widow! Very potent venom. Note red, fiddle shaped mark. Not aggressive unless molested
Brown Recluse showing small size.  Very dangerous because of habits and horror-story venom.
Brown Recluse showing small size. Very dangerous because of habits and horror-story venom.

These tiny marvels remembered in verse.

Spiders: Man’s Other Best Friend.

The Perfectionist

“Spinning moonbeams, dew and dawn light;
gleaming silver in the morn light;
tough as steel with magic kissed.
Busy spinner; aerial fatalist;
careful weaver, such perfectionist;
making mummies on my porch.”


Spiders: why does the very name strike loathing and even terror into many hearts? Is it because they were once huge creatures who could really do us harm when the world was all forests and we were hunter-gatherers? But biologists and palaeontologists would soon put us right on that score, they have been much smaller from the time man was evolving from far simpler creatures. If there were giant spiders, they were around when the dinosaurs walked the earth or even before. We weren’t even a glint in Nature’s eye back then.

Malevolence in Miniature

The creature spun, reared;
its multi-faceted eyes glowed;
took in the menacing wall.
Pink, rough textured, unmoving.

Lightning stab of ebon fangs;
mamba strong venom spurts:
once, twice, thrice, the strike.
The wall remains unmoving.

The tiny assassin resumes his stroll:
fascinated, the watcher withdraws
his tickled finger, carefully.
So not to crush the tiny money spider.

Is it then because Hollywood has made movies showing awful, slavering eight-legged creatures with 2-foor fangs, poison dripping as they sunk them into a screaming homo sapiens, and lifted him, struggling as he quickly expired in screaming agony?
But there were no movies around when Little Miss Muffet was riveted to her chair by the sight of a quite small arachnid busy climbing its web with no thought of having a piece of Muffet for lunch. What Miss M. appeared to have is what many of us have, arachnophobia, with little rational base to it.
I mean, how many of you have ever been bitten by a spider? And if you have, how many of those sufferers activated the spider’s defensive capability by interfering with it as it went about its ‘arachnactivities? Trod on it, picked it up, tore its web down or otherwise pissed it off? How many of this group were unlucky enough to have been bitten by a really dangerous spider? After all, there are only half a dozen species with a deadly venom and only one of these is really nasty. (The Brazilian Wandering Spider). Of the other baddies, the Australian Funnel Web, or Trapdoor Spider, the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse: none are known to attack man gratuitously.
But spiders don’t have to be particularly venomous to make us nervous. The huge giant house spiders that occasionally whiz around the house looking for a mate in the UK at certain seasons have the house in a turmoil running away from it, or towards the poor creature carrying objects heavy enough to stun a lion. We don’t stop for a minute to reflect that these spiders are completely harmless and even if they could be persuaded to bite us, the effect of the venom would be negligible. Same with tarantulas, really, beautiful creatures entirely disinterested in causing us harm unless we do everything we can to provoke them, then in most cases their bite is hardly as bad as a wasp sting.

I Spyder

Hey there, bullet-hole:
Eight radiating cracks,
Throwing more shadow
Than mere shock waves.

For hours unmoving, yet,
A formidable presence.
How dreamest thou, huntsman,
High on my wall?

I took myself to task about spiders about 10 years ago while I was living in Mexico and Australia. Out of sheer fear, I would follow some star-like huntsman around with an evil insect spray called “Mortine,” until it gave up and fell, its poor legs pulled in, as the poet says, “Like dismay.” After one particularly nasty encounter with a poor creature who obviously wanted desperately to cling to life, I was disgusted with my cowardly self and have never hurt a spider since, not ever will. The poems included in this article are really a paean and an apology to spiders I have killed.

Forgive This Coward

So sadly furled, no menace now,
Was there ever, for me?
You were content to live as one:
Where began such fear
That caused the coward’s spray
To rob you of your steel.

Spider, spider-spirit, this appeal
Is just for me.
It will not speed your voyage to the stars,
Until you, another brightness,
May wait again for aphids
On my wall.

After all, the spider is one of our best friends on the planet. Without the thousands of different species, mankind would be suffocated and forced into starvation by an excess of insects that the spider calls prey. If we could learn to live with these visitors to our dwellings, both parties would benefit and be better off and easier in the mind. Women, especially, seem to find it hard to treat other tiny creatures with grace and respect: something to do with protecting their children, I suppose, or worrying unnecessarily about spiders taking the route less (in some cases) travelled by.

Spiders have their own predators, too. One of the most voracious is the spider-wasp, or spider-hornet, an efficient killer who usually wins the confrontation. Darwin was horrified by this creature and he used its example to discount the possibility of a benign creator.

The Spider-Hornet’s Victim.

Legs folded like dismay;
refusing to fight or hope.
The ebon, rapier sting,
pierces through and through.

I would have helped him,
but, fearful of his nemesis;
unsure of what to do, until
a blow would have crushed both.

Paralyzed, the enfolded spider,
Now a mere repository
For the spawn of the victor.
Borne aloft on wings of steel.

So please be considerate of these marvellous little creatures that share our lives. If you must remove them because the kids are scared, do so gently by covering them with a glass. Careful not to crush their legs. Then keeping the glass firmly against wall or floor, slide a stiff piece of paper or card under until you can pick them up with the spider trapped inside. He or she can then be taken to a warm place in the garden or shed and released. You are happy, the spider is reasonably happy and there’s no squished body to mop up.

Poetry selected from "Charged Particles,"

by R C de M.

Late notes: The debate over which is the most dangerous, or venomous spider on the planet rages on. It will never be completely answered, because most of the species are not even recorded. At the moment, there is some evidence to suggest the African Sand Spider possesses the most potent venom. But this shy trap-door type arachnid rarely bites. The Brazilian Wandering Spider has the worst press and is doubtlessly lethal with the most dangerous habits. A large Australian Funnel Web spider is my choice as being the worst all round based on the following:

1) They grow so large with huge fangs and a lot of venom.

2) Their venom is some of the most deadly on record.

3) They are reasonably aggressive if disturbed and will leave their hole with fangs dripping with venom, prepared to strike.

4) Some mature individuals abandon their trapdoor arrangement and take to the road like the Wandering Spider making them doubly dangerous.

5) Australian venomous creatures, reptiles and arachnids, always seem to be more potent than those from other continents.

What do YOU think? Please add your comments.

 

 

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Comments 19 comments

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

Hi Bob,

I love your poems! And yes, spiders really are our friends. Whenever the children complain about them I always quote the old rhyme, 'If you wish to live and thrive, let the spider run alive' Fortunately we're a fairly spider-tolerant household, and it's only the really big ones that cause a bit of excitement, and they are soon dealt with using a similar method to the one you describe.


Diogenes 7 years ago

So kind of you to say that, Amanda, I think we are kindred spirits: you, the spiders and me.


WannaB Writer profile image

WannaB Writer 7 years ago from Templeton, CA

I allow most harmless house spiders to live in the house and control insects that fly in, but thee does come a point when they have to go. That point is usually when they are too close to the bed I sleep in or right above it. I don't relish having one drop on me while I'm asleep. I'm not quite as tolerant of the black widows or brown recluse spiders, which I'm still not good at identifying. I will step on a poisonous spider inside, but I normally turn the black widows I keep finding in my worm bins loose at some distance away. They are pretty lazy and it's really easy for them to find what appears to be their favorite delicacy -- sow bugs -- in the worm composting bins. When I do decide the indoor spiders need to go, my favorite weapon is the vacuum cleaner. I might get several in one day, and I figure they will probably fight it out. Some people say they crawl back out, but I'm not sure I believe that.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 7 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Hi. I have found Widows lethargic, too, but someone told me they can jump a few inches, so I kept that in mind when I moved them from around my water tanks in Cuernavaca. My problem there was scorpions, which are really hard to love. Recluse is really tiny and slow moving and people can't feel it when it bites. It's thankfully rare. Those huge, fast-moving house or wolf spiders are hard to live with...I don't think anything above microbe size survives the Hoover, though! In the last analysis, they are invading your house, so we have to temper understanding with practicality, especially where kids are concerned.


Fran Spence 7 years ago

I found a wolf spider being dragged by some kind of wasp. The wasp was much smaller than the spider.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

Hi, I must admit that I feel a bit of a wimp after reading about proper spiders, the English variety are a little bit more friendly! I still run from the big house spider though! Nice poems.


diogenes 7 years ago

These huge European house spiders are truly terrifying, although they are harmless and only rush through our houses to see if there are any mates available. You will notice they rarely hang around like the Common house spider does. The kids love 'em, don't they? And dad is sometimes a tad tardy in the bravery department! Thanks for you interest. Bob


Paty 6 years ago

i was in class and i got freaked out. screamed in the middle of class now i find out that it was venom house spider i don't hate theme but i aslo don't like theme......


diogenes profile image

diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

House spiders don't use their venom on us, Paty, but it's best to be cautious because sometimes highly venomous spiders are hard to tell apart from the harmless ones. No spider will usually try to bite you if you leave them alone, or handle them with care when moving them..Bob


kgnature profile image

kgnature 6 years ago from North Carolina

Terrific hub - I'm going to link to this from my spider hub.


spider 6 years ago

I think spiders are cool one reason they creep my brother out but mostly there silent hunters they sneak up on there prey with out making a sound.


spider 6 years ago

I think spiders are cool one reason they creep my brother out but mostly there silent hunters they sneak up on there prey with out making a sound.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Thanks for kind interest, kgnature and for subsequent comments by a reader...Bob


QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 5 years ago

As magnificent as the spider may be, the fear of it rises more from the superstitions that are linked to it.

For example, to believe that spider webs attract bad luck or spiders are evil creatures to begin with.

Personally I think the above rumour was created so that people would clean their homes more often. :P

There is a religious event described where Muhammad S.A.W. was being pursued by non believer assassins, so he hid in a cave and God commanded the spider to weave its magnificent web at the entry of the cave.

When the assassins reached the cave they passed it and shrugged it off thinking that had Muhammad S.A.W entered the cave, this web would not be here.

In short, some Muslims, greatly respect the spider and actually avoid killing them.

We will catch them and leave them to be free outside our homes.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 5 years ago from UK and Mexico Author

Good...but what about the poor little bugs? They have a life, too! Bob


Suzanne 5 years ago

I've really enjoyed reading this article. I'm terrified of spiders but find them fascinating at the same time. I never kill them, as the very few I've killed in the past (usually when I've accidentally dropped something on it out of fright) always makes me feel so guilty. I know they can't hurt me (I'm from the UK) but I automatically jump back and get an adrenaline rush if I see one unexpectedly. House spiders are the worst. Urgh.


diogenes 5 years ago

If you ignore them, which also means not staring at them, because they detect that and get nervous, they will ignore you and get on with catching flies! Bob


cool girrrl 4 years ago

Spiders scare me beyond belief, but we have these giant brown ones in our house the size of RATS! Oh, and I like that quote. If u wanna liv eand thrivelet da spider run alive! Whoo hoo!!!!!!! :)


Alvin 3 years ago

Alvin I've always liked them I saw a house spider when I was little about five I would feed ants to it it was by a window in my house in Nyc growing up I've. Allways like them. Now living in Oklahoma we get wolf spiders. They come in from out side n jump around n make my girl friend jump n call me to come kill it but I catch it n take it back out side n let them go.

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