Is It Bad Luck to Kill Spiders? Facts and Symbolism
I admit, I respect spiders, but I don’t want them crawling on me. I have a healthy fear of them in that sense, but I never like to kill them. I’ve always felt that if the situation was reversed — if a giant animal was out to squash me — I know I’d want to live.
This curiosity prompted me to look a little further into the world of spiders. Life as we know it could never be possible without their engineering expertise. Without a doubt, they are fascinating little creatures!
10 Spider Facts
- Spiders, along with other insects and crustaceans, are in the phylum arthropoda. They are arachnids and share this class with mites and even scorpions. Arachnids are so-called because long ago, a small girl named Arachne defeated the Greek goddess Athena in a weaving contest. As revenge, Athena turned her into a spider.
- Over 36,000 types of spiders have been identified to date. They exist all over the world, from the Arctic to Mount Everest. The one place you don’t find them is in the Antarctic.
- You can find them in nooks and crannies, on tree bark, in the forest, in the desert, and even walking on water.
- They range in size from .04 inches all the way up to 3 inches wide.
- They generally live from 1-2 years, although there are some species of tarantulas whose female members can live up to 20 years!
- Many spiders are content to feast on insects, some plants, and even dead animals. They much prefer to steer clear of giant humans.
- Many spiders are nocturnal. That is, they are most active at night.
- It is best to observe them from a distance. Interestingly, many homes have at least a few dozen spiders lurking around at any given time.
- Do you know why life wouldn’t be the same without spiders? We’d all be overrun by insects! The average spider eats about 2,000 insects in a single year.
- Spiders have been around for a long, long time. They existed at least 150 million years before the dinosaurs, according to fossil records. Fossils that are 380 million years old show evidence of spiders’ existence.
Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.— Chief Seattle, 1853
Every Spider Makes Silk
Every spider makes silk, but not all spiders make webs. Those that do, however, use their tiny little claws to walk on the silk threads without sticking.
Besides building webs, silk is a lifeline for spiders. They use it for many purposes, such as making nests, making hinges for trapdoors, making egg sacs, and mummifying prey. If they go wandering about, they will leave a silk thread behind, and if they sense danger, they can use the line to swing out of the way.
Tiny spinnerets in the back part of the their body send out liquefied silk. When it contacts the air, it solidifies. Interestingly, some silk is sticky and some is not.
Baby spiders also spin silk and some use it to “balloon." They climb somewhere high enough to catch the wind and the silk line they emit carries them away to another place.
Some spiders are quite social and will even “collaborate” to make cities of webs. They will connect the individual webs they make into one large web, sometimes big enough to cover a tree!
Silk is such a strong and flexible material that the US Department of Defense is investigating its use in bullet-proof vests. The fibers can absorb the energy of a moving bullet.
A Few Types of Spiders
Orb Weaving spiders
They sit and wait for their prey to land on their web. The vibration from the struggling prey alerts them about a possible next meal. The spider then moves quickly to subdue and poison its prey. Some eat their prey on the spot, others inject venom and wrap their victim in silk fibers.
They make their lairs in the ground. They create a hole, pad it with spit and soil, and then line it with silk. Then they cover their hole with a trapdoor and hinge it with silk fibers. When a potential prey vibrates the door with its movements, the spider will lurch out, grab the victim, and then carry it back into the hideout.
They sometimes change colors based on the type of flower they’re on. They wait for a bee or other nectar-eating insect to visit the flower, and then pounce on their prey.
They are not poisonous to humans. These spiders make their living by eating insects that could otherwise cause disease, including flies and ticks. They also have great speed and can reach 1 mph. For its size, that's really fast. This feat is in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Except for the black widow, brown recluse, and a few others, most spiders in North America are harmless. Other parts of the world have different poisonous spiders.
Native American Symbolism
According to Bobby Lake Thom, a Native American shaman and author, spiders are messengers. They have either good or bad power.
He explains that the wolf spider, the black widow, and the tarantula are spiders with bad power because they usually signal a bad omen. Some can even warn us of danger. If you see one in your house and you feel like it’s going out of its way to get your attention, watch out.
If a lot of spiders begin invading your home, this may be a sign. Think about the people in your life at the moment. Are all of your relationships harmonious? Perhaps someone could be jealous of you. Perhaps you might need to phase some people out of your life. If you are in doubt, take a moment to observe the spider. What are its actions? Is it moving? Is it aggressive? Is it meek? The more a spider doesn't act like a normal spider, the higher the chance it is telling you to be careful or wary of certain people in your life.
Good spiders are ones that don't bite. They are good to keep around because they'll help keep bugs at bay. According to Native American tradition, it’s not good to kill a spider in your house. Instead, gently capture it using a cup and a paper (slid over the top of the cup) to trap the spider inside. Release it outside, preferably near a garden where they can quickly find shelter until they have a chance to make a web.
Getting Rid of Spiders
It's always best to leave a spider alone and observe it from a distance. If you have an infestation, you can try natural methods, but you may want to consult a professional. Otherwise, you should think about how beneficial they are. Instead of resorting to killing, you could take it out to the yard. It will help keep your yard more bug-free. Spiders catch so many pests and insects that we really have no idea how important these little creatures are! Spiders indeed command respect.
Do Spiders Scare You?
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© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun