Friday, November 14, 2008


In the field, you run into all sorts of critters. I can deal with (heck, even find adorable) a variety of wildlife that send some other folks running. But I have this instinctive aversion to spiders.

I spent a lot of time on a long-term project that involved traipsing around small water bodies. I had to be in the water a lot of the time, so I didn’t have a whole lot of maneuverability to back away from spiders I ran into. I developed this sort of horrified obsession with the spiders I encountered regularly and developed the Short Geologist’s Field Guide to Large Water-Loving Spiders. They’re in order from least to most scary.

5. Flat spiders: These are bad because when you slam a big lid on them, they don’t get squashed. They’re tan-brown and about an inch wide including legs, so they’re on the small side for this guide. The problem with flat spiders is that when you think they’re squashed, they scurry out at you. Aaah! *short geologist leaps backward* …The Short Geologist does NOT like spider surprises.

4. Amazing underwater spiders: These guys are slightly smaller than the flat spiders. They live in air bubbles underwater in the crevices of your equipment. This would be pretty cool, but what it means in practice is that when you reach into the water and grab something, a spider runs up it at your hand. AAAH! *short geologist drops equipment, tries to leap backward, and falls into the water*

3. Twig spiders: These black spiders with long, spindly legs like to live on twigs and especially like to hang out on any mooring lines or strings stretched across the water. They’re organized with their sets of legs straight out at 180˚ from each other, and they’re super long and skinny (about 2 inches) so that they can surprise you when you’re untying knots.

2. Wolf spiders: Ok, these are pretty terrestrial, but I kept running into them on bridges. Lessee, they’re big, hairy, and super fast. These are the only spiders whose actual name I know, incidentally.

1. Bridge/culvert spiders: These are the worst. They’re big (up to 2 inches) and they have similar bodies to black widows. Huge, black, bulbous body, spindly little legs…They hang up under culverts and bridges by the hundreds, filling the airspace with webs. Words cannot describe how much these horrify me. If I had to venture inside a culvert filled with these bastards, I’d need to use a flamethrower first.

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