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August 14, 2014 / Rae Spencer

Spined Micrathena Spider (Arachnophobia Alert!)

Photography is one of my most useful allies against arachnophobia. In the past, this small spider (less than a half-inch in size) would have sent me scrambling indoors in a state of shivering panic. Now I run for my camera.

Spider Aug 13

The Spined Micrathena is a new spider for the yard, even though a site dedicated to Northern Virginia Ecology says, “The Spined Micrathena is one of our most common spiders. If you’ve ever walked through a spider web in the woods, it was very likely a micrathena’s web.”

I didn’t walk through her web, but I very nearly fell through it a few times as I leaned closer and closer with my lens. By the time I found the best angles and camera settings, fascination with the spider’s abdominal spikes had overcome my too-many-legs anxiety.

Spider Aug 13

And after doing a little research, I am forced to admit squeamish gratitude. These spiders feed on flies and mosquitoes, which recently multiplied into bloodthirsty swarms in the yard. I hope our new spider is very, very hungry.

Spider Aug 13

One final note: I can’t claim to be cured of arachnophobia. My first reaction on finding a spider is still horror, and brushing against a web still results in panic. But I’m learning to look at spiders, especially in photos, with more curiosity and less fear.


  1. pattimoed / Aug 17 2014 4:49 PM

    Great shots! I definitely would have been squeamish too after getting that close!

    • Rae Spencer / Aug 20 2014 7:38 PM

      I felt itchy after taking these photos, and more than once I imagined there was something crawling on my arm or neck. The sensations didn’t fade until after I showered and changed clothes!

  2. Women of Wise / Aug 28 2014 11:22 AM

    Wow, I’ve never seen that spider before, impressive!

  3. dejuan / Oct 4 2014 6:14 PM

    Ive seen several of these spiders this year but have,never seen one before 2014 not really sure why tho

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