And now for something completely different: this post is about spiders. The title is true: spider phobias are highly prevalent, more so (and I say this without having done any research on the subject, but yet I feel I can say this with certainty) than many other animals. You’ll certainly never see someone run screaming away from a rabbit or a puppy, and (hopefully) you will never see someone yell “Kill it!” and squish its guts out on the floor.
That was probably a more graphic example than I wanted to use, but my point is the same: how come spiders are among the most reviled of animals?
I mean, think about it for a moment. Spiders are incredibly cunning. But wait, you say, spiders’ brains are smaller than my pinky nail. How can they be so smart? Well, for one thing, brain size has no direct correlation to intelligence (dolphins’ brains are even larger than ours, and you don’t see them running the world.) And spiders truly are clever little animals. Some common species of house spider, for example, have learned to play dead in the presence of humans. For another example, the beautiful (and large) golden web spider (or golden web orbweaver) will sever certain support strands of its elaborate golden namesake web when a storm arrives, so that the rainy wind will blow through the web and move it, but not break it. Meanwhile, the orbweaver itself is hiding beneath a cluster of nearby leaves until the rain passes and it is time to repair the web.
But spiders have other virtues as well. They are incredibly patient. A spider will spin its web and wait in total stillness and silence until an unsuspecting insect flies in. Relying on webs for food means going days on end without eating sometimes. Speaking of webs, what other animal uses a device like that to trap a meal? Spiders are pretty darn innovative, when you think about it. And some webs, such as that of the aforementioned golden web orbweaver, are downright beautiful, especially when the geometric designs catch the light the right way.
So really, people could learn a lot from the little guys (okay, yes, it’s true that in some species of spider the female eats the male during mating, but what species doesn’t have its flaws?) And think of all the good spiders do us. They are natural, environment-friendly crop protectors. They keep the mosquitos out of your room. And they don’t ask for much, just to be left alone in some quiet corner somewhere.
So the next time you see a spider on your bathroom floor, maybe you’ll think twice about killing it. It has probably already eaten several unwelcome guests in your house.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go feed my tarantula.