I have a real website now rather than a blog. Though I will keep this one open for a while, I will no longer keep this one up. My new site, "USA Spiders" is not fully completed but getting close. I made sure to get the Michigan page finished first. :o) Please use
USA Spiders in the future and if you find any problems with the site, please let me know so I can fix them.

Spiders verified to be here in Michigan are listed on the left sidebar. On the right sidebar, are the spiders of which pictures have been sent in to me.

The BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER! - Rick Vetter, the worlds top expert on the Brown recluse has published a book on the infamous Brown recluse spider. Learn the truth behind the worlds most misunderstood spider. (BUY IT HERE!)

My Disclaimer
My Knowledge and Why I am Not an Expert

Spider Questions and IDENTIFICATION Requests
My EMAIL can be found in the above link. I am always happy to help identify a spider, but please do us both a favor and read this before emailing me. Thanks.

Describing your Spider ..... Photographing your Spider

Your Fear of Spiders
........... Spiders in your Home?


Beyond Spider Dome - Where two spiders enter and one comes out.

Spiders and Drugs - Documentary video about the effects different drugs have on spiders.

Play with a computerized spider
- (flash)

Spider Diagram. - Basic anatomy of a spider.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Arachnophobia: The Fear of Spiders

It is one of the most common phobias in the United States. The Fear of Spiders and other arachnids! But just why is it we are afraid of spiders? How do we get over those fears?

When I was a kid, my friend and I used to collect spiders. We had our jar and we went around finding spiders to add to the jar. Even then we feared them enough not to handle them. We didn't want to take a chance of being bitten. Where did that fear come from?

I don't believe we are naturally afraid of spiders. As infants, we usually do not see a spider and start crying. Our fears of them are taught to us as we grow up. We may see our mothers freak out when they see a spider. We may be bit by one and learn quickly they can hurt. We may see scenes from movies like the old black and white film of the giant tarantula destroying the army. Little bits and pieces are fed into our learning brains and being so young, we soak that information up like Bounty soaks up coffee in Rosie's diner. Okay, old Quicker Picker Upper reference. Bad joke.

The fact is however, we are afraid of something we shouldn't be. Growing up, we learn that a dog growling is dangerous. A dog with a panting tongue likely is not. We learn that we should not touch hot pans. We can love drinking milk, it is good for you, but if it smells sour or pours out in globs, it is best not to drink it. These same rules hold true for spiders. Most spiders are completely harmless to us. Some can bite and leave a little sting. Very few are considered dangerous. We can easily recognize the dangerous ones with very little studying. Very few people do not already know what the Black Widow spider looks like. If you see a black spider with a red hourglass? Do not touch!

Here in Michigan there is much less to fear than the rest of the United States and then that has a lot less to fear then the rest of the world. But this is a Michigan Spider site, so I will be more specific. In Michigan, there are virtually no real dangers from spiders. There might be a few Northern Black Widows in the lower boundaries of Michigan, but they are rare. The only Brown Recluses you will likely find are spiders transported in from a trip down south. During our cold winters, they die and need to be transported here again the next year. After those two spiders, we have very little to worry about. The Yellow Sac spider can do some damage on the rare occasion, but most of the time its bite will only cause a slight itchiness and maybe a small rash. People will talk about the Wolf Spider being dangerous. It is not considered to actually be dangerous however. In fact, its venom is not dangerous at all. Its only real danger comes from the possibility of it carrying MRSA. Yet the rare cases of that happening still have not proven to me it was the spider bite that caused it or if it was just a case of MRSA thought to be from a spider bite. The complete truth is that "danger wise", we have very, very little to be afraid of Spiders.

Yet another fact is that we ARE afraid of spiders, and whether or not it is justified, it doesn't change the fact that we are indeed afraid of them. So then the question is what do we do about it? My advice is to learn about them.

As I said, when I was a kid, I collected them. I was not afraid of them. That changed however. When I was still young, I had a nightmare that I was laying down and covered with spiders. My entire body was absolutely blanketed with spiders. That dream was the beginning to my arachnophobia. For many years I was afraid of spiders. Not to the point of running from them, but enough so that I gave them a clear distance until I had a paper towel (a couple sheets), a good shoe and a long rubber band! If the spider was near the ceiling and my aim was off enough to only knock it down, I had the shoe for the termination and the paper towel to clean the mess. If my aim was good that day, then I had no problem getting a chair and getting close to clean what was left.

Still, my interest in them never completely left me. Once in a while, I would see a spider I have never seen before and start looking it up on-line. I was bothered by the fact that several different people told me a spider was a wolf spider and they all were talking about different spiders. Then I was even more disturbed by the fact that when I tried to look up spiders, I could find very little useful information pertaining to spiders here in Michigan. There are over 30,000 kinds of spiders in the world. Some scientist believe as many as 50,000 and maybe even as much as 100,000. That is a lot of spiders to go through, so I decided to start making a site on only spiders found in Michigan. No easy task, but I figured it will make other peoples searches much easier in the end. The more I looked at pictures and the more I read about spiders, the less I was afraid of them.

The pics you find in Michigan Spiders that I took are mostly of spiders I caught. I would catch them in a container, then let them loose on the counter and use a pen or something to direct their path until they finally stopped moving. Then I would take the pictures, placing my camera (while set on Macro) right up close to them.

My wife is more afraid of them than I by far. She wont even kill them. Yet in the last couple of weeks, she has got up the courage to get my container and catch two spiders and a weird beetle. I cannot tell you what an accomplishment that was.

The fact is, the more you understand something, the more you are around something, the less you fear it. If you have arachnophobia, try just reading about spiders. If you can handle it, try just looking at all kinds of spiders on the Internet. When you see one in real life, try studying it more. Look it up on the Internet and learn more about it. The more comfortable you become with the sight of them and the more knowledge you have of them, you will learn there is less reason to fear them. Knowledge is power. In this case, knowledge can give you power over your fears.

Lately I have been considering letting a spider crawl on me. To let one crawl on my hand while I study it. That is a huge step from where I was before I started Michigan Spiders. I will start off slow. Maybe one of those little jumping spiders. Someday I will try a Garden Orb Weaver. It might be a while before I try a Grass spider simply because of how fast they are. It might freak me out if I pick one of those up and it suddenly sprints up my arm.

So now you know some of my secrets. Yes, the guy who created Michigan Spiders and identifies the spiders you email (or attempts to at least), is afraid of spiders. But there is no shame in being afraid of something. There is however, a little shame in not trying to face those fears. I have made strides simply by becoming more acquainted and knowledgeable when it comes to the world of arachnids. Soon, very soon, I will take the next step.


  1. I am terrified of spiders...but since I have been learning more about them, I have been able to calm my fears a little bit as well. I have even begun to take many photographs of them (I have sent you several already)! I don't think I have any desire to let them be ON me, and I still don't like being surprised, but if they are minding their own business I don't mind coming up to them and checking them out. :) Thanks for this site... it is a great resource!

  2. I am deathly afraid of spiders. I know why. Did you ever see the old movie called "The Incredible Shrinking Man"? In it he gets so small he uses a straight pin as a sword and does battle with a spider over a piece of cheese in a mouse trap. It shows in great detail the under side of a spider. I was 12 and babysitting at a neighbors house or my parents would have never let me watch that affected me to the point where I scream and run at the sight of even a pic of a spider. I was on here to find what kind of spider was in my mailbox today. Fortunately a neighbor saved me from it...LOL. Thanks for the info on spiders! BTW you should see some of the beasts in Florida. Yikes..I have a big story there.

  3. Six in the Nest -- I am glad my site has been some help. I used to be more afraid of them too and got over much of it the same way. But I agree, I still dont like them surprising me. lol Not long ago I had a spider drop from the ceiling on a thread of web and go right past the front of my right eye. It was so close it looked HUGE, and I shoved my chair back so hard I rolled half across the floor. When I found it, it was a baby wolf spider that would have been crushed by a skittle! lol Yet it still took me by such surprise it took me several minutes to completely settle my nerves. lol

    Debby -- I know the movie. lol I should watch it again to see how accurate the underneath was done. But because it was seeing the giant scary one to make you afraid, it would be seeing the true spiders for what they are that would help you get past those fears. I promise you, the more familiar you become with them and the more you learn about them, the less you will fear them.

  4. I have a bad fear of spiders. If I see them, I will freak out and go find a shoe or something to smush them with. Oh and if I find one crawling on me or dropping in my face, I will freak out and pretty much have a panic attack. It's bad!

    I have a comment about the MRSA thing...I have been working in healthcare for 11 years now, and MRSA is a common thing with my patients. It is my understanding that everybody already has MRSA, it just stays dormant in your body under it decides to become active. You don't necessarily catch it from somewhere. You can catch it if your immune system is already compromised and you come in contact with it. But I don't think a spider is capable of being a carrier of MRSA. Even with being a healthy person with minimal medical issues, you can develop a secondary MRSA infection just by sustaining an injury or having a primary infection that MRSA growth thrives in. And if you've already been diagnosed with a MRSA infection in, let's say your ear (secondary to an ear infection), chances are very good that you will have recurrent MRSA infections in that ear for the rest of your life.

  5. What MI spider looks most like a brown recluse? Would it be grass spiders I see everywhere?

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