Ack! Ack! Arachnids! (?)

I have a theory. And a poll.

My theory is that the fear, squeamishness, nervousness around spiders is primarily a female trait.

Think about it.

Through your lives, how many guys have you encountered or generally observed who shriek, recoil or display pronounced stress, alarm or discomfort at the sight of spiders, even a small one?

Same question about the females.

A peep’s posting of a spider pic got me mulling this matter of creepy-crawlies. Like I commented over there, I don’t want a brown recluse lunching on my leg. Otherwise, my response to spiders is neutral to friendly. I enjoy their presence, say hello and gather them up if it seems they might prefer being outdoors. In Japan, btw, spiders in the home are considered good luck.

My inclination to harm or kill them is a round-belly zero. And many is the occasion when past female roommates have panicked and pleaded from across the room of the anachrid that someone hurry and kill it.

“No, don’t kill it,” I state, “I’ll take care of it.” I calmly gather up the guy for release into the wild yonder. (I suss out either a spot on open ground or around a plant depending on his likely preference.)

I’ve had plenty of guy roommates too but not one’s ever freaked out. They might lift a foot or hand or reach for a newspaper though, in which case my response is unchanged: “No, don’t kill it.” Then outdoors he goes. The spider, I mean.

I used to clean (note to universe: I am not a cleaner) at a four-star resort in desert country. Spiders weren’t uncommon. Sometimes I had to work fast and furiously to prepare a suite with earthen tile floors and two huge walk-in marble showers and jacuzzi bathtubs and four-poster beds with bountiful layers of crisp white linens and kitchenettes — quite the scene — for the next arrival.

Yet if I spotted a spider, I’d lay down the mop or switch off the vacuum cleaner to cup him up and gently set outdoors — moments of communion with a critter that were meditatively Zen and calming.

I digress.

I propose that generally females and males respond to spiders differently and that the basis is a simple matter of Mother Nature’s wiring. Agree or disagree, just first ponder your own life experiences and observations is all I ask.

The poll? It’s this. Fear of snakes I get. I don’t share it but I do get it because people I know with it have described it, strong, independent and courageous individuals who’d sooner call in professional help than stand within 20 feet of a snake in the house.

Spiders I don’t get so educate me. What makes these guys creepy?


And just ’cause‘s so dang fun:


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. katie
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 13:50:36

    I used to be REALLy afraid of spiders. With old(heh) age has come an ability to kill(or take outside.But mostly kill) spiders.


  2. katie
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 14:35:17

    well, I know they’re good for pests, but that’s not really an issue here, so I think it’s better to just kill them. Trust me,I don’t feel good about it.

    On a related note, I was watching a episode of L.A. Ink where Kat Von D was bitten(on the eye!) by a black widow spider. Those are spiders that it’s OK to kill.


    • allycatadventures
      Sep 29, 2010 @ 14:44:38

      @katie – “trust me,I don’t feel good about it.” – another question then: that’s not reason to stop? If ever I’m in a situation where a black widow is poised to bite me on the eye, all bets are off! Fortunately I don’t {ahem} see that as a likely life scenario. :p


  3. Cimmorene
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 16:24:21

    okay, Ally. First of all, I think you mean “arachnids” not “anachrids”. “Anacrids” actually puts me in mind of a small critter that’s behind the times (anachronistic).

    Second, I think that reactions to spiders is a learned response. Generally, little kids aren’t scared of ’em. I have two little kids, so I know first hand. Kids generally learn a fear of insects from the appropriate parent. If the mother is squeamish around spiders, the girls learn that spiders are something to be feared. If men are nervous around spiders, their usual response isn’t to scream and yell, but to kill it. Boys usually take their cue from that. Of course, painful bites and stings from spiders and other insects can tend to make a child fear them.

    I am not a friend of spiders. However, I have two kids. So, as long as they aren’t on me, I’m content to place a cup over the spider and a card or other firmly flat piece of paper beneath it and release it into the outdoors. Don’t ask me to touch one, though. You’ll get, at best, a cold stare and at worst a loud, “NO.”


  4. allycatadventures
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 17:21:57

    @Cim – You’re right, that’s exactly what I meant, thanks for catching my dyslexic typo. You propose an interesting theory that I invite you (and I shall to) run past circles of males and females. In fact, I just may just may make this a project for a small notebook! Speaking for myself, my mother’s fear of spiders or lack thereof as the case may be wouldn’t have affected me a whit (and am confident saying my sister would say likewise). It’ll be fun to “poll around” and see what folks say.


  5. trayflow
    Sep 29, 2010 @ 18:19:49

    I am terrified of spiders. I don’t know where it comes from either. My parents didn’t seem to have any problem with them (mice, another story). Strangely, I think they are beautiful creatures and love to take macro photos of them…unless I think it might jump on me if I get too close. I tend to kill them when they are small. Once they get to a certain size they must be relocated due to crunch/squish/liquid factors. A cup with a piece of paper/cardboard is the preferred method.

    Living in Australia I am learning a new fear: cockroaches.


    • allycatadventures
      Sep 29, 2010 @ 18:37:25

      @trayflow – Now my curiosity’s growing by leaps and bounds! Why kill them, particularly when small? What about spiders brings out that “killer response?”
      Cockroaches are nasty. As if their survivability in a nuclear attack weren’t enough, they bring diseases and procreate worse than rabbits! Personally, I’d take 50 (nonpoisonous) spiders over five cockroaches in my residence any day!


      • trayflow
        Sep 29, 2010 @ 18:49:19

        Oh, yes, I agree about the spiders vs. cockroaches. Nasty! When we first moved in our house we saw a few large ones and none since. Now we see on occasion a small one. They are something most people in Sydney must deal with. UGH!

        I honestly don’t know what it is about spiders. I do know that the faster they move the more they scare me. Interesting that you ask. I hope more people respond so we can all learn something. I am trying to reason in my head why we have this response. I am thinking butterfly vs. moth. Bright and colourful, etc. That said, if someone is afraid of a plain black spider they will most likely be afraid of a colourful one as well. 8 legs? I am going to have to think about this one for a while and get back to you.

        I will never forget the large Huntsman or Rain Spider we found in our B&B in South Africa. The owner came and rescued us. He simply picked it up to take it outside. It got away from him a couple of times and man can those things move. The windows were kept firmly shut the rest of our visit!


        • allycatadventures
          Sep 29, 2010 @ 19:41:42

          @trayflow – I take it then that you won’t be found glued to the TV watching gigantea clock speeds of 1.17 mph (1.73 ft/sec) on Animal Planet or your local equivalent. The Huntsman is a hefty lil’ feller and given its speed you’ll want it moving away from you. Away, Mr. Big Huntsman.


  6. aubrey
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 09:32:43

    I used to love insects as a child. It was when I discovered the ‘joy’ of finding them in my HOUSE when the fear and hate began. I won’t kill anything outside (I would say roaches were the exception, but I’m too busy running away) – inside is another matter. Bugs don’t belong in my house. When you crossed that threshhold, that was your final mistake. Now, spiders outside are fine. Their webs are works of art.

    As for insects (spiders are seperate, yes? I still lump them together) I’ve thought long about where my hatred/fear ends and begins. It really has to do with with the sudden-ness of discovery. And that is because of my nearsightedness. And one never knows where a bug is going to jump. Maybe into your face!

    Many bugs symbolize filth and bites. And I don’t like things that SWARM. More points against them. But…I’ve Occasionally thought what a shame that I hate them so. Because they are fascinating little structures…little monsters crawling at our feet.

    I think I’ve meandered from your post a bit, but it certainly made me think!


    • allycatadventures
      Sep 30, 2010 @ 13:47:06

      @Aubrey – Always a good thing when a post makes another think. 🙂 Yes, I can see that the surprise of bugs flying into the face, potentially or for real, would be influential. Must be a challenge to keep a house entirely bug-free. Do ants bug ya too? No pun intended. Really.


  7. drude
    Sep 30, 2010 @ 12:58:39

    I’m just like you… I like spiders, I pick them up, I spend time watching them… my house is full of them… I do pick up a lot less after a 5 year stint in the tropics… things I used to think were harmless had a way of suddenly turning around and doing nasty things to me there – that made me more cautious… most of my life I’ve removed spiders from friends’ and room mates’ vicinities… so are you saying I’m really a guy????

    I have to say the people who ADMIT they’re scared of spiders and scream uncontrollably that I have ‘rescued’ have usually been girls… but when you ask them whether they got that from their dad or their mum… it’s been about 50/50.. funny enough…

    I don’t understand any phobias, but you gotta accept them for what they are.. I have several friends who’re phobic about cats! -cats??! you can’t reason with it… it’s just some brain short-circuit that makes them panic in a bad way when they see their ‘trigger’ thing. People can learn to control their phobias though.. or just hide their reactions..


    • allycatadventures
      Sep 30, 2010 @ 13:42:05

      @drude – You do sound suspiciously like a guy! But let’s establish for certain. Do you smash beer cans against your forehead? ;p My gut tells me that fear of spiders is, all things being equal (i.e., no trauma), rests in gender, not caretaker modeling; the preponderance just points that way. There are phobias and then there are abject terrors of an archetypal nature, like rodents, snakes and certain insects. I reckon that the common aversion to spiders falls into the willies category or the comparatively more intense phobia; why I still don’t exactly know; it may be the motion. Depending on the degree and depth of a phobia, some can be “resolved,” some can’t; as for abject terror, rarely to never, just a matter of learning to live with or around it, methinks.
      I do like spiders. I like snakes too. As a child, I had the choice of getting a boa constrictor or a cat. I went for the latter. I’m still not sure it was the best choice.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: