Arachnophobia is one of the most common phobias in the United States. The Fear of Spiders and other arachnids! But just why is it we are afraid of spiders? How do we get over those fears?
When I was a kid, my friend and I used to collect spiders. We had our jar and we went around finding spiders to add to the jar. Even then, we feared them enough not to handle them. We didn’t want to take a chance of being bitten. Where did that fear come from?
I don’t believe we are naturally afraid of spiders. As infants, we usually do not see a spider and start crying. Our fears of them are taught to us as we grow up. We may see our mothers freak out when they see a spider. We may be bit by one and learn quickly they can hurt. We may see scenes from movies like the old black and white film of the giant tarantula destroying the army. Little bits and pieces are fed into our learning brains and being so young, we soak that information up like Bounty soaks up coffee in Rosie’s diner. Okay, old Quicker Picker Upper reference. Bad joke.
The fact is however, we are afraid of something we shouldn’t be. Growing up, we learn that a dog growling is dangerous. A dog with a panting tongue likely is not. We learn that we should not touch hot pans. We can love drinking milk, it is good for you, but if it smells sour or pours out in globs, it is best not to drink it. These same rules hold true for spiders. Most spiders are completely harmless to us. Some can bite and leave a little sting. Very few are considered dangerous. We can easily recognize the dangerous ones with very little studying. Very few people do not already know what the Black Widow spider looks like. If you see a black spider with a red hourglass? Do not touch!
Even though there are very few dangerous spider species in the United States, most people are afraid of them. Most spider bite will be comparable to bee stings at worst. And even bites of the most dangerous spiders in the United States, the black widow and the brown recluse, are lethal in very few cases.
But the fact is that we ARE afraid of spiders, and whether or not it is justified, it doesn’t change the fact that we are indeed afraid of them. So then the question is what do we do about it? My advice is to learn about them.
As I said, when I was a kid, I collected them. I was not afraid of them. That changed however. When I was still young, I had a nightmare that I was laying down and covered with spiders. My entire body was absolutely blanketed with spiders. That dream was the beginning to my arachnophobia. For many years I was afraid of spiders. Not to the point of running from them, but enough so that I gave them a clear distance until I had a paper towel (a couple sheets), a good shoe and a long rubber band! If the spider was near the ceiling and my aim was off enough to only knock it down, I had the shoe for the termination and the paper towel to clean the mess. If my aim was good that day, then I had no problem getting a chair and getting close to clean what was left.
Still, my interest in them never completely left me. Once in a while, I would see a spider I have never seen before and start looking it up on-line. I was bothered by the fact that several different people told me a spider was a wolf spider and they all were talking about different spiders. Then I was even more disturbed by the fact that when I tried to look up spiders, I could find very little useful information pertaining to spiders here in the United States. There are over 30,000 kinds of spiders in the world. Some scientist believe as many as 50,000 and maybe even as much as 100,000. That is a lot of spiders to go through, so I decided to start making a site on only spiders found in the United States. No easy task, but I figured it will make other peoples searches much easier in the end. The more I looked at pictures and the more I read about spiders, the less I was afraid of them.
My wife is more afraid of them than I by far. She wont even kill them. Yet, in the last couple of weeks, she has got up the courage to get my container and catch two spiders and a weird beetle. I cannot tell you what an accomplishment that was.
The fact is, the more you understand something, the more you are around something, the less you fear it. If you have arachnophobia, try just reading about spiders. If you can handle it, try just looking at all kinds of spiders on the Internet. When you see one in real life, try studying it more. Look it up on the Internet and learn more about it. The more comfortable you become with the sight of them and the more knowledge you have of them, you will learn there is less reason to fear them. Knowledge is power. In this case, knowledge can give you power over your fears.
Lately I have been considering letting a spider crawl on me. To let one crawl on my hand while I study it. That is a huge step from where I was before I started USASpiders. I will start off slow. Maybe one of those little jumping spiders. Someday I will try a Garden Orb Weaver. It might be a while before I try a Grass spider simply because of how fast they are. It might freak me out if I pick one of those up and it suddenly sprints up my arm.
So now you know some of my secrets. Yes, the guy who created USASpiders and identifies the spiders you email (or attempts to at least), is afraid of spiders. But there is no shame in being afraid of something. There is, however, a little shame in not trying to face those fears. I have made strides simply by becoming more acquainted and knowledgeable when it comes to the world of arachnids. Soon, very soon, I will take the next step.