Words with Many-legged Fears

black and yellow garden spiderWe get some pretty impressive arachnids here in Georgia.  This beauty to the left is a Black and Yellow Garden Spider. She’s considered a beneficial, and will only bite “if harassed”.  Considering her body measures about 1.25″ long, not including those legs of hers, I figure anyone who harasses her gets what they’ve got coming.

According to my five whole minutes of googling, the 2-3′ wide circular web belongs to her. The zipper-looking line in the middle is her mate’s man-cave.  Never saw the male, but I really didn’t need to.  I did see a previous web without the zipper from her orb-weaving bachelorette days though!

I’m okay with her living on my front porch, as long as she doesn’t try to eat one of the cats or something.

I’m not afraid of spiders. Wary, yes.   Wigged out when I walk through a web, certainly.  But generally speaking, knowing that this doll is hanging out on my front porch doesn’t really bother me.

Wait, I take that back.

The black widow who lives in the door to my crawlspace ensures that the crawlspace is a space to never be entered. Because. BLACK WIDOW.  Uh-uh. Not no way, not no how.  This is the poisonous arachnid sort in my crawlspace, not the PVC-clad Scarlet Johannson sort.

Last week, my friend Laura sent me a picture of this ginormous arachnid in her


garden.  He’s a “Green Lynx Spider” which is a super cool name. Not to mention he’s hanging out on her pretty flowers instead of ominously lurking in a web.

Her little neighbor is not venomous, either. But honestly with a spider that size, does it really matter?

I’m posting photos of really large spiders because I realize that they appear in books quite often.

Sometimes, they are good (like the orb-weaver cousin of my black and gold, the Barn Spider, who had a starring role in Charlotte’s Web).  Sometimes they are just hungry, but somewhat reasonable, like Hagrid’s friend Aragog who lived in the Forbidden Forest beside Hogwarts.  Sometimes they were… terrifying. Now I’m thinking of Shelob and the spider from IT.

There’s a legend that JRR Tolkien was bit by a spider in his youth, inspiring Shelob,   But I have to wonder how much more archetypal and instinctive the fear and fascination with spiders really is.  The concept of a spider large enough to eat a human is petrifying, hell yes. Especially imagining being immobilized by a web!

I’m fascinated by the creatures themselves and what they do in our imaginations.

Free associate with me — what do you think of when I talk about spiders?


3 thoughts on “Words with Many-legged Fears

  1. The Golden Orb Weaver always makes me think of “Bitey,” the magically animated automaton spider one of my MCs built in the stories I wrote for her before I rebooted her for the novel. He was an experiment, one of the first automatons she made. He was a foot and a half long, and she carried him in her lap like a baby. He was made of hand-carved wood, with brass gears and joints for the moving parts. His fangs were made from dagger blades.

    He tended to freak people out, but he was an adorable little baby. He DID, however, bite (two inch long metal fangs are quite scary).

    In the novel, I may have her make a bigger version…

  2. I can think of a movie that had bunches of mechanical spiders – what film, I am not sure. Indiana Jones did a brief time in a cave full of spiders with a screaming woman. Several of the series of books I have read have spiders in them in one form or another.

    I think they will always give us the creeps.

    Although the two banana spiders (also golden orb weavers and very similar to your current friend) living beside the driveway are fine where they are. They aren’t by the house and I can keep my eye on them. We live in cautious but respectful distance of each other. I have the power to end their existence and they have the power to eat bugs and stay out of my way.

    It works.

  3. Pingback: Black and Yellow Garden Spider | The Right Hue

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