I’m not afraid of spiders. I am not afraid of spiders. Actually, I’m not, really. I actually think some are cute, like the Jumping spiders (Phidipus).
Their big eyes are kind of endearing, even if the big green fangs put you off a little. I like the way they turn their head to look at you. You get the feeling that there is an intelligence evaluating you behind those eyes. All spiders amaze me because of the fantastic variety of forms, and the incredible things they do despite having brains the size of gnat eggs. My inner 15 year old is also fascinated by their use of venom and the fact that most people think spiders are hideous monsters. I suppose I would feel the same way if I were the size of an insect, or if spiders were the size of lions. My affection for Jumping spiders is definitely related to the way their two large eyes gives them a “face.” Most spiders have multiple eyes and lots of wiggly pedipalps and fangs, not exactly a visage that appeals to human nurturing instincts. However, being tiny and colorful helps spiders overcome our fear of the weird. Once we start to appreciate the more attractive ones, we can also begin to love the Godzillas of the spider world.
The Pink-Toed Tarantula that we’ve seen in Peru is a spider-hater’s nightmare, bigger than your hand and with big hairy legs. The hairs help them to use surface tension to cross water between trees during the flood season. They have fearsome-looking fangs, but don’t seem very aggressive. They can be handled safely if you’re gentle with them.
The Pink-Toed Tarantula
The Lycosid spiders (the Wolf spiders and their kin), get nearly as large as tarantulas and are much more active hunters. It was in the Amazon that I saw one large enough to turn the tables on a frog. In my experience, placing an appendage anywhere near a big wolfy is asking for a bite. The spiders just reflexively pounce on anything that touches them. The unlucky treefrog just happened to touch the leg of this large, hungry spider.
Lycosid spider eating a frog
It is right here in Ohio (a friend’s office to be more specific) where the Brown Recluse lives. These nondescript little brown spiders cause hideous ulcerous wounds with their bite. The one bite I’ve seen looked like the aftermath of a copperhead bite. There have been no recorded deaths from the Brown Recluse to my knowledge, but I’ll keep my distance.
I haven’t done any spider art yet, but I do like to photograph them!
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