My Greatest Fear #13: Unseen Spiders

Okay, I know spiders are a pretty common fear, unlike the rest of my unfounded paranoias. So I was never going to write about it. But something happened to me the other day that made me realize that it wasn’t spiders in general that scare me–if I see a spider on the wall, I dispose of it just fine–but rather unseen spiders that freak me out.

I couldn't bring myself to search for photos of real spiders ten minutes before I go to sleep.

I was over at a friend’s house playing Catch Phrase when someone mentioned that they were intrigued by the shadow of a spider on the window behind me. Everyone turned to look at the spider, which was apparently hanging out in a ladder propped against the building. One by one, the people in the room commented on the sheer size of the spider (not just the shadow). From my angle, I couldn’t see the spider, and I got shivers up my spine by the idea that this massive arachnid was hanging out just a few feet behind me.

This fear of unseen spiders started when I watched the movie Arachnophobia when I was way too young. It was a sleepover birthday party, but I didn’t get any sleep after watching that movie. I was too concerned with all the spiders cleverly hiding in shoes and sleeping bags and under toilets and in showerheads…. For years after that, I didn’t walk into a bathroom without checking all four corners of the ceiling and under the toilet.

I’m over that now. But the worst, even now, and probably until the end of time, is when I walk through a spiderweb. Not only can you not see the spider in that situation, but you can feel it all over you body where the web meets your skin and hair. I’m getting the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.

I feel like people fall into one of two camps: They’re either afraid of snakes or spiders. Which are you?

18 thoughts on “My Greatest Fear #13: Unseen Spiders”

  1. What about the option of being into a category where you’re afraid of both snakes and spiders? I’ve never had to kill a snake, but when it comes to spiders I do the whole overkill thing where you step on it, make sure it’s dead and then take off your shoe and repeatedly smash it again for good measure,all before you grab a tissue and mash it around some more. Then I complain to the dead spider about how icky it is and ask it why it was crawling around in my house. I don’t know how I’d kill a snake, I think it would need more than my shoe and a tissue. I think I’d murder it as well though since spiders and snakes both scare the mess out of me.

    • I have overcome the fear of spiders to actually kill them in the method you described. I really hate the large squishy types and I also hate other bugs that go ‘crunch’. The little ones don’t affect me at all. But I do hate walking through spider webs — even with no spiders. I agree with Jamey, my imagination goes wild. Where I live nears woods, the fall weather seems to bring out a lot of spiders and webs. I am okay if I don’t walk through the web.

      But this summer our yard has had tooo many snakes to count. Have I overcome this fear of snakes? H.. NO.
      I have witnessed the hoe swiftly coming down to cut the snake in half, and each time I cringe and scream. But my biggest reaction came when watching the killing of a copperhead. The person wielding the hoe had so much adrenalin in their shoulders that the hoe took multiple whacks, while I gagged and jumped around with my eyes closed.
      I know I have sparked some ‘snake lovers’ heart with this entry. My neighbors always tell me to leave the snake alone and not kill it. I know that snakes keep the rodent population down, but I also know that one snake can only eats one mouse/month, so that would mean that I would need lots of large snakes in my yard.
      My theory is that if I see a snake in the woods, it can go on its merry way, unharmed.(unless it is poisonous and I can determine that by the shape of the head) However when the snake is a few feet from my back door, its life lies in the balance between life and death. It is an invasion of my personal space. But I have yet been able to gather the power to act against a snake.

      • You should tell everyone the story about when I almost got bitten by a copperhead coiled around the rolled-up carpet in the garage when I was really young.

    • I don’t think you’re going to kill a snake with your shoe. As you can see from Margot’s comment below, it takes a lot more than that. 🙂

      • True, but luckily I haven’t come across any snakes in Ballwin. You could be underestimating me though. For all you know I could be the female equivalent of Hulk, and when the adrenaline gets going in me maybe I could step on it with my shoe and find a very large tissue 🙂
        I didn’t get to see her comment until after I had posted, so in all fairness I didn’t know about the hoe method until now.

  2. I actually avoided Arachnophobia because I was worried that I’d be scared after seeing it. To this day I’ve still never seen that movie.

    My paranoia revolves around wasps…their bulbous bodies hang in the air just dripping with venom and oozing a penchant for pain and misery. I’m fairly certain they do actually seek out people to mercilessly sting. Spiders just don’t bother me, and I think it’s largely because I feel like their movement capabilities are much more restricted. I’m not about to let a giant spider like the one outside the window the other night dance on my face, but as long as it’s comfortably in its web, I’m pretty much OK with that. As for snakes, I always assume they just don’t want to move anywhere unless they have to. Wasps, on the other hand (and hornets, yellow jackets, etc) just seem so vicious. I’m actually coming to terms with regular bees (although I still jump when they surprise me), but those of you who know me well might remember that I once spent an entire day battling a giant wasp during college. After a poorly placed kill shot on my part early in the day, he chased me out of the room for several hours, then laid in wait, patiently plotting, until 2 AM, when he emerged like a bolt of lightning from under my bed and headed straight for my face (I was studying at 2 AM…it was college). Needless to say, I didn’t escape injury free, but I’m still alive to tell this tale, while his body was displayed in parts on tiny pikes around the room like a 14th-century English criminal post-execution, drawn and quartered, then impaled and arranged on London Bridge.

    • I can confirm that Trevor does NOT like wasps. However, this comment is hilarious. And yet somehow true, as I’ve heard it before, and the plot has not varied.

      • I agree! Bees and wasps, as well as moths and anything else that has wings and flies, bother me much more than spiders or snakes. I had a moth fly into my living room last year, after it had been flying around the porch light outside, and it took me 20 minutes to capture it and swat it with a fly swatter. That’s one of the ickiest feelings in the world. And killing spiders comes in second!

        • Colleen you are so right! Anything that has wings and flies is ickier to get rid of than any arachnid or insect!

          I had a couple of icky encounters with a bees when I was a kid. One in particular involved a bee flying into my dorito lunch bag without knowing at the zoo. I was at the bottom of the bag when I reached in thinking I had pulled out a handful of soggy crumbs. (My hands were wet from my perspiring soda can) When I reached up to put the crumbs in my mouth and very gently started to bite in, I pulled the unusually soft crumbs out and realized it was a bee with the stinger pointing in! Needless to say I didn’t bite down, I just grazed the bee, but after screaming and letting the bee go, it chased me in circles around the zoo with my friend and her grandma wondering what had just happened.

          Ickiest feeling in the world.

  3. What if you’re not really afraid of either one? Snakes only mildly scare me and thats only if they’re poisonous. They also only make me jump if I didn’t realize they were there in the first place and I’m in their way.

    Usually if I find a spider, I’ll try to catch and put it outside or my husband will. 🙂

    The ONLY thing that bugs me about spiders is when someone you’re with sees one and wants to kill it with a shoe…and not just any shoe. There is a huge pile of shoes, and they specifically request YOUR shoe. No reasoning behind it, could be that it was on the pile on top of the other shoes…but its YOUR shoe nonetheless. Its an awful, awful thing.


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