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.
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.
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.
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.