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Google Adventure #3: Spiders

I am not a big fan of spiders. I wouldn’t say that I am jump-on-a-chair scared of them, but I think they’re pretty creepy.  If I see one in my living room, and I can’t catch it, I will spend the rest of the evening thinking that it’s crawling on my shoulder.It’s only when I start wondering if that spider on the ceiling is poisonous* that my creepy-crawlies turn into actual fear.

I live in the southeastern U.S., and people seem to love to tell me about the venomous spiders that live here. The two big offenders are the black widow and the brown recluse. Both are fairly common around here. One of my sons in particular is always telling me that he saw another black widow in the garage. I have never seen a black widow in our garage, but apparently every time he goes down there he sees some. This got me to thinking. I don’t actually know what either a black widow or a brown recluse really looks like, but Google does. Google knows what all kinds of venomous spiders look like, and it will tell me if only I ask.  Here’s what I found:

Black Widow

Black widows are shiny and black, about half an inch long, have bulbous butts, and a distinctive red hourglass marking. Unfortunately, not all of them have the “distinctive red hourglass.” Their back could be blank, or it could have a yellow or orange hourglass, or it could just be a colored dot, so don’t judge a spider safe just because it doesn’t have a distinctive red hourglass. Its bite could kill you if left untreated, but if you get to the hospital, they should have the anti-venom you need to get better. I still don’t think I’ve seen one in my garage.

Photo by Shenrich91, via Wikimedia Commons

Brown Recluse

These motherfuckers are scary. The handy-dandy spider identification chart I found labels them as “deadly and aggressive.” Their bites can cause large necrotic areas, and they can, in fact, kill you. And they’re everywhere in the U.S. The fact that I have made it 37 years without being bitten by one is the only thing keeping me from building a spider-proof bunker to live in from now on.

Photo by Br-recluse-guy, via Wikimedia Commons

For those of you in the Pacific Northwest, you can also be on the lookout for hobo spiders and grass spiders. Their bites aren’t deadly, but they can make you feel like ass.

Hobo spider photo by Lee Ostrom, via Wikimedia Commons
Grass spider photo by Tdot778, via Wikimedia Commons

Now, here are the reassuring facts and figures I found on my Google adventure:

  • There are only about 6 spider-related deaths in the U.S. each year
  • Only 2% of all the spiders in the whole wide world are dangerous to humans
  • Spiders are fairly content to leave you alone if you leave them alone.
Writing spiders - less scary than you think. (Photo by Len Blumen, via Wikimedia Commons)

I know this last part to be true because every other year we have a writing spider take up residence on our porch.  They look scary as crap, and walking into one of their webs is like walking into a sticky steel mesh, but they have never made an aggressive move toward me, even when I accidentally walked into a web. They’ll hang out for a few months, and they almost get to feel like weird pets that you don’t want to feed or touch.

As you can see, I only really looked into the spiders on North America. The world is a pretty big place, and I don’t have it in me to research the venomous spiders for the whole thing. I’ve been sitting cross-legged in my chair for the last half-hour so that imaginary spiders won’t crawl over my toes while I’m typing. If you are curious about the venomous spiders in your area, you can go on your own Google adventure. Wear thick socks and sturdy boots.

*This site helpfully informed me that a spider is only poisonous if you get sick after eating it.  The proper nomenclature is “venomous,” as it is the poison in their bites that we are concerned with.

By [E]SaraB

Glass artisan by day, blogger by night (and sometimes vice versa). SaraB has three kids, three pets, one husband and a bizarre sense of humor. Her glass pendants can be found at www.etsy.com/shop/AngryOwlStudio if you're interested in checking it out.

9 replies on “Google Adventure #3: Spiders”

Spiders used to give me the heebie-jeebies. But since I moved to Georiga, it was either make peace with spiders or go insane. They are everywhere here – just outside of Savannah. We find black widows everywhere. The good thing about Black Widows is that they DO NOT like human activity, so they will spin their webs in out of the way places. Also, they won’t go after you, they would rather run and hide.

That penny photo is disturbing. Conventional wisdom would tell you that the smaller the spider, the better; but if it’s a “deadly and aggressive” spider, I’d actually like it to be a little bit easier to spot from across the room. :/

In other news, I came to this article literally minutes after having watching a video of a funnel spider being brushed, which I found surprisingly cute: http://www.taronga.org.au/blog/2011-06-07/funnel-web-spider-grooming-tips

Mud dauber wasps like to make their nests around my office building. They get inside every once in a while, and used to scare me until I learned that they’re not aggresive and like to eat spiders. The blue wasps are rather pretty and especially like to eat black widows. Now I try to let them back outside. I’d rather have the wasps than spiders.

Okay I know that I will undoubtedly be in the minority, but I love spiders…. sorta.

I am not really a fan of them crawling on me unbeknownst, but I think that they are really beautiful and interesting creatures.

I have a number of photos I’ve taken at my husbands aunt’s “farm” which is about as “out in the country” as this city girl is willing to go, but an awesome place for me to find bugs to shoot… with a camera of course.

I was bitten by a redback spider (the Australian equivalent of the black widow) and it hurt like a goddamn mofo. I had to go to the hospital and get the anti-venom and spend the night. Amazingly enough I’m still pretty much fine with spiders – I mean I don’t want them crawling on me but if I see one I’ll capture it and take it outside rather than kill it.

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