Anyone who spends time in forested areas throughout North America will have to deal with spiders. Every time we encounter a particularly menacing arachnid, we remind ourselves that spiders are our friends. They eat other bugs, including mosquitoes, so they actually protect us from pests. On Friday, as we were taking our sunset walk, we encountered a massive spider nest in a tree near the lake, where we counted dozens of spiders of various sizes suspended on webs throughout the branches. Had we encountered the nest in the woods rather than along the road, we would have doubtless been terrified by our little “friends,” but in this case we were at a safe enough distance to simply be fascinated.
Then, on Saturday, as we were standing outside talking all-things-Airstream with a some new owners and their two children, we were shocked to see a tarantula crossing the road about 10 feet from where we were standing. While the adults recoiled in fear, the children approached the tarantula. In fact, one child ran up to the creature, causing it to run into the woods. We had no idea tarantulas could move so quickly!
The scene was almost comical: four adults moving away from the spider, two children moving toward the spider, and the spider running from all of us.
Depending on the circumstances, they can actually reach speeds of about 2 feet per second. And this time of year is when you’re most likely to see them, as they’re just completing their mating season and preparing to enter their boroughs ahead of colder weather.
Needless to say, we thought about that tarantula for the rest of the weekend. After all, it went into the woods right next to our campsite. On our Sunday evening walk, we talked about “Mr. Tarantula,” and mused over the spider’s unfortunate name. “Tarantula” just sounds menacing. It might not be as scary if it had a name like ladybug or unicorn.
Even though they’re fairly docile creatures, and only bite if provoked, we still kept our eyes on the ground–and in the trees. Because spiders are our friends.