Scared or Afraid of Spiders?
Now I am the first to admit to being scared of spiders ever since a very young age. There is no reason behind my fear, none of my family are particularly bothered by them, and here in Guernsey we have no poisonous ones to worry about. This doesn't change the fact that if I see a large house spider charging along the carpet I instinctively freeze and bring my legs up on to the sofa out of reach, (in case it decides to jump me!)
The truly crazy thing is that I actually find the darned things fascinating if I am watching a nature documentary about them. The way they spin their webs and the detail involved, the way they hunt, (whether with webs or not) and the sheer necessity of them being on this planet. But put me in a room with one and I go to pieces.
Okay, I am far from as bad as I used to be, but my memories still haunt me of the times I had close encounters with spiders I would prefer to forget. For example, the instance where I was lying in bed and in the semi-darkness saw a massive spider running along the shelf next to my bed. In hysterics I ran downstairs frantically asking my Mum to come and 'get rid of it', but she wanted to watch the end of the News. By the time she came upstairs it had vanished and I was refusing to go back into the bedroom. Mum obligingly pulled out the bed to try and find this hairy monster, at which point it came hurtling out from under the bed straight towards where I was standing in the doorway. Letting out an almighty scream I crashed into my Sister's bedroom opposite at high speed, slamming the door behind me, and nearly giving her a heart attack in the process.
Meanwhile, Mum managed to catch the spider in a tea towel, but also managed to drop it on the way down the stairs. In case it returned to my room I refused point blank to sleep in the room for at least a week afterwards, and moved into the spare room on the lower floor. Even Mum agreed it was the biggest spider she had seen over here, and her guess was that it was a female carrying eggs, (not a comforting thought believe me!)
Another time I was babysitting for a couple's children, and whilst the couple were out another vast spider decided to taunt me by tap dancing on the carpet in front of my chair. By now I realised there was only one way to deal with this problem if alone. In other words the wine glass and paper trick. I quickly grabbed an empty glass, just about fitting it over the spider, then slid an envelope underneath it. Too scared to risk throwing the spider outside in case the wind blew it back onto me, I placed it carefully on the kitchen table for the couple to dispose of later. What ended up being really funny was how their two year old son was absolutely fascinated by the spider the following day, and I became his hero for providing such great entertainment.
Of course then there was the occasion I was in the bath, and realised a spider was gently lowering itself from the ceiling towards my face. Both me and the bathwater exited the bath simultaneously.
Then there was the time I went to the toilet in the middle of the night having first put on my dressing gown. As I lifted it up to sit on the loo, a large spider fell out of the back of it into the toilet bowl. This really freaked me out, as it must have been against my skin all along. I quickly flushed the chain in case it managed to jump back up on to my bare bottom whilst I did what nature intended.
Lastly, the tale that springs to mind is when I worked in the rat breeding unit, and at lunchtime we came out for our sandwiches in the small shed. The shed was equipped with a sink and electricity, and as I went to fill the kettle I looked down into the sink and saw a huge spider staring back up at me. In horror I leapt backwards, and one of the male staff kindly agreed to remove it. Funny thing was that when he picked it up it actually bit him. Alright, there was no danger of it being poisonous, but he still said it hurt, and I found out later that even some house spiders can inflict a painful, if non-venomous bite.
I want to know if they are truly more scared of us than we are of them, then why do they always seem to run towards us at high speed, rather than in the opposite direction? And what about those ones who seem to be wearing clogs because they are so huge? I am pretty damn certain I am more scared of them than they are of me!!!
As the years have passed I have become much more tolerant of these arachnids, and found that given the time to summon up some courage, I even managed to hold a giant Tarantula that covered both my hands completely, (possibly because it reminded me more of a Guinea-Pig than a spider due to it's size and slow movements).
I have now developed techniques that have really helped me to deal with the problem of finding a spider in my home and not being able to reach it to remove it using the glass and paper trick. I want to share these tips with you, as I know they work, and make spiders far more bearable for those of us who are generally terrified of them.
1) If you find an 'out of reach' spider, such as on your bathroom ceiling, give it a name. Last year I had one in our bathroom for a week or more, and I called him 'Harry'. By doing this I thought of him more as a pet than something to be scared of, and when he vanished on his own I was not too worried about where he had gone. I currently have one living on my car wing mirror called 'Boris', and he is kind of pretty, black with orange dots all over his body.
2) Watch as many documentaries on spiders as you can. They are fascinating creatures and once you watch how they hunt, be them trap door spiders or the spiders we all know who spin webs, you may well find your interest outweighs your fear. Did you know a spider's web is many times the strength of steel of the same diameter? Scientists are still trying to find a way to reproduce this strength to human advantage.
3) Look at a spider web in your garden first thing in the morning when it is covered in dew. Few things are more beautiful in nature, and a spider's web is a work of art.
4) Go to your local zoo and look in the spider section. Learn more about them and you will grow to appreciate them. Watching them through a glass screen will make them seem a whole lot less threatening.
5) If all else fails get a cat. My cats tend to catch most spiders in our home, and whilst I hate them killing anything, I am not usually quick enough to rescue the spider concerned. At best I find a set of legs left behind and the torso gone.