Toxicity Translations

That Creepy Crawly Feeling
by Abigail McEwen -- October 28th, 2013

Halloween is finally upon us! Now is the perfect time to embrace all things spooky, scary, and creepy crawly. Now I’m not superstitious, so ghosts, ghouls, and vampires don’t phase me. But a nice little innocent spider, well now, that will send shivers down my spine.

To get you in that Halloween spirit, here are some of the creepy crawly little spiders I’ve encountered doing fieldwork at the CEINT mesocosm site. While you look at these, feel free to contemplate the fact that there is probably a spider near you at this very moment!

Also known as a garden spider. Harmless, unless you are allergic to spider bites!

Black and yellow orb weaver (Argiope aurantia). Also known as a garden spider. Harmless, unless you are allergic to spider bites!

Another black and yellow orb weaver. That bold zig-zag running down the middle of the web is their signature style

Another black and yellow orb weaver. They are known for producing expansive webs with a bold zig-zag running down the middle.

The spiders at the mesocosm field site are particularly fond of using the surrounding  structures to build large webs. Often this makes collecting water samples logistically difficult. Walk through a spider web, destroying it and incurring the wrath of said spider, or find a new and inconvenient path to avoid this? Normally I opt for the second option…until I accidentally walk into a spider web, as I did last week.

An orb weaver in the Neoscona Genus, as seen from the underside. This photo was taken mere moments after I rudely crashed into its web.

The belly of an orb weaver in the Neoscona genus. This photo was taken mere moments after I rudely crashed into its web. I’m not sure which of us was more terrified.

A fishing spider practicing its trade.

A fishing spider practicing its trade.

(If you are curious about these spiders, and other spiders in NC, click here.)

Important Spider-Related Public Service Announcement!

Despite my mistrust of these eight legged creatures, they are one of the few creepy-crawlies that I will not kill. Whenever I find one in my house, it is either moved outside (usually a dramatic process involving panic and terror for all involved) or left alone.

This policy was shaped largely by a book I owned as a child, called “Be Nice to Spiders“. Many spiders are harmless and can be very useful house guests, trapping and eating flies and other pesky insects. Unless you are allergic to spider bites, very few species (brown recluse, black widow) are dangerous and usually only when threatened. Learn more about spider safety here.

Please don't step on me!

Please don’t step on me!

If you need anymore convincing that spiders can be awesome, look no furthur then the peacock spider. Who could be terrified by that?

1 Comment

  1. Tawnee
    Oct 30, 2013

    Great post! I almost had a heart attack the first time I almost ran into a black and yellow orb weaver – I was very pleased to discover it wasn’t poisonous. I think this is a great NC spider infomercial. Spiders can be very helpful environmentally, and you represented them well!

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