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Spiders seem to elicit an emotional response like no other bug. My parents still torment me about the time a spider dropped from the ceiling of our station wagon, dangling before me on its silken thread and scaring the begeezus out of me. Apparently my screaming from the back seat distracted my dad or something. I bet he would have screamed, too, had the spider suddenly appeared a few inches from his face.

I'm not actually afraid of spiders, and find them fascinating to watch when they aren't sneaking up on me. Some people aren't so lucky. About 4% of the population suffers from arachnophobia, the fear of spiders. For people with true arachnophobia, just watching an exotic spider behind glass at the zoo can be terrifying.

People without a diagnosed phobia may still find spiders scary enough to avoid them, or even kill them. In truth, few spiders can inflict significant harm on something as large as a human being, and all are predators of other insects. That's no consolation to those who fear them.

We're having a lively discussion about the fear of spiders in the insects forum. About member Lahle says "I fear the bites, not the spiders." Charlie reports that his mother-in-law "is REALLY not a fan of the tarantula display at the local nature center." Members Sukhmandir and Lyndsey could not be farther apart on their feelings about spiders. Sukhmandir says "spiders are my friends," but Lyndsey admits to having "severe arachnophobia." So how about you? Are you afraid of spiders? Share your spider experiences and fears and vote in the forum poll.

Update on Stephen Colbert's namesake spider: East Carolina University biologist Jason Bond will appear on the Colbert Report this Wednesday to discuss Colbert's choice for entomological immortality. Bond agreed to give Colbert naming rights to one of the 27 new spider species he discovered.

Comments

August 1, 2008 at 10:39 am
(1) Laura says:

Nope. I’m not afraid of spiders, but I don’t think I’m the norm.

If I find a spider in my house I leave it alone (if it’s in a hidden corner) or I capture it in a glass and release it into the wilds of my backyard.

August 3, 2008 at 2:40 pm
(2) Kendra says:

I am, 100% terrified of spiders. I don’t know why. They all terrify me equally. If I see one, I start to sweat and tremble. I can not kill them. I run away and employ someone else (sometimes the poor neighbor has to rescue me) to take care of the spider. I once stopped at a fire station to have a spider removed from my car. I nearly ran myself off the road. I will not watch them on t.v. I will not view a photo of them (knowingly). I will not read a book that describes a spider in any sort of detail. Yes, I’m a baby. And I think my blood pressure is going up just typing this out!

August 3, 2008 at 11:22 pm
(3) Deborah says:

I am fascinated by spiders. I love to watch my black widows outside spin their webs. They are so beautiful. Do you have any articles on black widows? Shoot me an email with the link….

Thanks

July 25, 2009 at 3:52 pm
(4) Dauntez says:

Outside in my back yard I have two black widows (male). I can tell they are males because they have no RED markings. I like to watch the flying insects get caught in the web. Yesterday i found a big flying beetle with green wings and buzzes very loud. The beetle was getting attacked by the ants. so bad that the ants ate one of his legs while he just dragging around. I took a piece of paper and let the beetle walk on the paper. Then I threw him up in the web. Maybe 2-3 min past. Then here he comes the black widow staring at his prey for a moment. Then he went to work started to wrap and tie his legs together. I just sat back drinkin a brew just watching. It was one of the most fascinating things Ihave ever seen in my live. I even caught some of it on video.

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