My nephew and I sometimes go “spider hunting” on those lovely, warm Ohio summer nights. What is spider hunting? Well, it does not involve hunting spiders but rather hunting for spiders.
First, we find the various spider webs around the yard and we figure out which spiders we want to help. Eugenicist that I am, I choose the spiders that I find most beautiful. Afterward, we catch insects of the appropriate size for the spiders and then cast such damned souls into the nets of their demise. Then, like young Augustine at the Roman spectacles, we gorge our eyes on carnage. In truth, there is not much violence. The spiders pounce on their victims with shocking alacrity and wrap them up to be drained later. It is pretty cool.
Occasionally, I allow my lower instincts to get the better part of me and I just want to see some action. So, I’ll catch a wasp or a hornet to throw into a web of a spider that I do not really find attractive. The ensuing battle always proves entertaining. It is like Planet Earth right in your own backyard.
The common abhorrence of spiders, insects, and other arthropods surprises me. I find them fascinating. While not as beautiful as mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, or birds, they are much more accessible. Birders may be happy to watch their animals of choice, but I really like to touch and hold animals. There is another level of communion when a critter is on your skin rather than in a tree. Yet, such encounters are rare and difficult, and they usually are not positive events for the animal. With creepy crawlies, however, it is easy to find and hold them, and, if you are careful, such encounters do not harm the animals.
So, I may not like arthropods more than the higher beasts, but I enjoy their company more often. Harvestmen (daddy longlegs) often crawl on me unbeckoned, and they are among the most easily captured animals on earth. Whenever I am in the woods during the warmer months, my hands invariably will serve as a treadmill to one of these little fellows. I encourage you to get over your arthropod apprehensions; give them a chance, and you’ll be able to relate more often to nature’s denizens in a more intimate way.