This little jumping spider was not eager to have its picture taken.
Also, it was able to keep at least one eye on me, no matter what angle I tried.
Finally, after I stood very still for several minutes, the spider crept out into the open.
For a few moments, as the spider and I engaged in a bit of mutual staring, my arachnophobia subsided to its lowest level yet – a vague too many eyes unease.
Don’t expect me to touch a spider any time soon, or voluntarily walk through a web, but progress has been made.
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.
He might have wandered in to escape the weather, or he might have simply been exploring. Either way, our coffee table is not the proper habitat for a jumping spider.
After taking these photos, I used the All-Purpose Bug Relocation System (a glass and a postcard) to move him into one of the flower beds.
I found a jumping spider in the irises, and, after taking my usual maximum-distance/maximum-zoom spider photos, I
bolted away in an arachnophobia panic gathered my courage for some macro shots.
The spider seemed fascinated by the camera. Maybe it saw a foe in the lens? Maybe it simply wanted to climb? Whatever its motive, I was
terrified by impressed by the spider’s jumping ability.
Every time I moved the camera within macro range, the spider darted forward and leapt onto the lens. I got several blurry way-too-close-ups.
I also had a few too many “where did it go?!” moments.
Even so, I’m happy to have these photos for the archive. There’s something appealing, to me, about the spider’s “expression”.
After our photo session, the spider climbed onto the pear tree. Its camouflage was so complete that I soon lost sight of it.
I won’t be adopting a spider as a pet anytime soon, but it’s getting easier to photograph them.
A few nights after our cicada adventure, the dog and I found a black widow during our late night stroll. In fact, we found three black widows. Once I knew what to look for, how to spot their messy web-nests, I was astonished at how many there were in the yard. Astonished and horrified.
(I apologize for the poor quality of this photo. It was taken from my camera’s greatest possible zoom distance, with shaking hands and racing heart and a powerful urge to run away.)
I don’t remember being afraid of spiders, when I was a child, but I have certainly become afraid of them in my adulthood. Whenever I find a spider, my reactions range from sweaty anxiety to paralyzed terror. The closer the arachnid, the more severe my physiological response. It’s not so much a fear of being bitten as it is a shivering revulsion of all those legs and eyes.
I don’t like this part of me, this unwanted instinct to race for a broom or break out a can of insecticide. So I’m working to overcome my fear. In the process, I’ve made peace with the orb weavers and jumping spiders in my yard. I’ve even perfected a glass-and-postcard system of wolf spider relocation, for when I find them in the house.
Even so, I cannot embrace the idea of a population of venomous spiders lurking under the fence and flower-bed borders. In this case, brooms and insecticide seem reasonable. Unless there are better ways to eradicate black widows. Any ideas?