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Arachnophobia  


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On 7/23/2021 at 8:23 AM, TheVat said:

 I have to wonder to what degree the "creepiness" is culturally learned. 

I think most of it is learned, that without observing the aversion in others in combination with being warned to avoid them or kill them because they are dangerous most children would not develop that response. I did learn that response but have mostly gotten over it with attempts to put reason ahead of learned fear responses. That is distinct from personal experience of painful bites and stings, which can make a big impression especially when young. I avoid bee hives and paper wasp nests- they hurt - and won't make pets of them but I suspect many beekeepers quite like their bees.

The only bite from a spider I got that I am aware of was (lots of stings and itches have been mysteries) was from an Australian Huntsman spider that had hidden in the sleeve of a raincoat; it drew blood but must not have used venom. No sting or reaction; they do have venom and it can be painful (I've read) but not usually dangerous unless there is unusual sensitivity or allergy. It made me wary of poking my hands through sleeves of my raincoat for a time but hasn't caused a fear of Huntsman spiders.

Because only some spiders are dangerous to humans but most people will not know which are and which are not, the warnings - and the subsequent fear of them - is applied across the board. In a similar way to some Muslims being terrorists has resulted in many people who have little first hand experience of them being suspicious and fearful of all Muslims.

Edited by Ken Fabian
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2 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

Australian Huntsman spider that had hidden in the sleeve of a raincoat

Wow that’s inspiring how you recovered from encountering such a huge species of spider. I’d almost be tempted to avoid countries like Brazil and Australia in case I meet their ginormous insects! But if I’d a free ticket I’d still go for the sun and scenery!

 

2 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

without observing the aversion in others in combination with being warned to avoid them or kill them because they are dangerous most children would not develop that response

Maybe there are traces of critical periods where being familiar with such insects from a young age can lessen fear.

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3 hours ago, Michael McMahon said:

Maybe there are traces of critical periods where being familiar with such insects from a young age can lessen fear.

Encountering spiders without previous experience of them probably does trigger significant alarm - encountering most animal species without experience of them would do that and modern lifestyles tend to limit such encounters. When they go on to encounter a kind of animal they believe to be potentially dangerous the fear and aversion is probably reinforced. Tangentially I read a book on dog training that claimed whether dogs take to some activities like swimming can depend on the age they are when they are first introduced to them; there probably are age ranges where negative encounters can imprint long running aversion but at other ages will tolerate the new and unusual.

I think that familiarity breeds... apathy; they are around and they don't attack anyone so people living around them can get quite casual about them. There are only a very few species of spider in Australia that are genuinely dangerous.

Perhaps if the spiders you first encounter are these ones, you might not develop any arachnophobia -

 

Edited by Ken Fabian
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1 hour ago, Ken Fabian said:

Perhaps if the spiders you first encounter are these ones, you might not develop any arachnophobia

Yes that’s true. That species looks mysterious and intriguing. Although if I met one of them dancing on the footpath where there was pulsating trance vibes in the background, then I might find the brainwashing music creepy but not the spider! 

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Spiders don't bother me because the ones I mostly encounter are not dangerous.

Anyone with a fear of snakes would not like living where I do - although again, they are mostly not dangerous, but some care is needed around them, especially the venomous ones.

There are a pair of carpet pythons in our roof space as I type - they come out to sun themselves, snuggling together contentedly between their amorous exploits. Another time we had a female python "in heat" she attracted males from far and wide - I counted 5 different males sniffing about and they were less timid than usual, ignoring people and going places they normally wouldn't. And there were some fights - which were more like arm (neck?) wrestles that seemed quite civilised; no-one gets injured and the loser accepts defeat and moves on. It was a bit alarming but not panic inducing; we had to watch our steps. They aren't aggressive but like any wild animal you have to be careful.

Carpet pythons are not usually considered dangerous but they are capable predators always on the lookout for an easy meal; I suspect large ones could target unattended babies or toddlers. I would be a lot less apathetic about their presence if we had little kids here and the snake had ready access.

My video of two male pythons arguing over a girl - sorry, the dialogue is a bit... disjointed -

 

Edited by Ken Fabian
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31 minutes ago, Ken Fabian said:

Spiders don't bother me because the ones I mostly encounter are not dangerous.

If you see one of these, be afraid, be very afraid! 😲

Funnel Web Spider Rearing Stock Photo (Edit Now) 139597124

Funnel web spider (Hadronyche sp.) rearing up (Print #9445537)

The Sydney Funnel Web spider. A habit one needs to get into if living in Sydney or surrounds, is empty out one's shoes before putting them on, although thankfully, I have never seen one in the wild as yet, despite living most of my adult life in Sydney.

On 7/27/2021 at 9:20 AM, Ken Fabian said:

The only bite from a spider I got that I am aware of was (lots of stings and itches have been mysteries) was from an Australian Huntsman spider that had hidden in the sleeve of a raincoat; it drew blood but must not have used venom. No sting or reaction; they do have venom and it can be painful (I've read) but not usually dangerous unless there is unusual sensitivity or allergy. It made me wary of poking my hands through sleeves of my raincoat for a time but hasn't caused a fear of Huntsman spiders.

Seen plenty of them...big and scary  blighters !!

This guy is a regular visitor and you don't care. | Huntsman spider,  Australian animals, Spider

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Big yes, but to me, not so scary. That doesn't mean I would try to pick a spider like that up, although I did once encourage one to walk onto my hand to get it off someone who was freaking out. It did. I stepped outside and it stepped off to the post I offered it as a way off me, all done peacefully, almost politely, without violence on it's part or mine. Frankly I think spiders are not nearly so scary as some people are.

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  • 1 month later...

One way to build up your resistance to arachnophobia might be to start small and habituate yourself to more innocuous looking insects beforehand. Indeed the attached images makes me look somewhat timid compared to those who can handle spiders and snakes in their hands! If you can touch a snail's shell then you can try increasing your confidence by touching their slimy body. A ladybird looks endearing even though they're a real insect when they open their stylish wings.

Photo on 05-09-2021 at 15.20.jpg

Photo on 05-09-2021 at 15.14.jpg

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Interestingly, almost all (95.3 percent) of the participants stated that men were more likely to be creepy than women. Participants rated the following as the most likely characteristics of a creepy person:

The person had unkempt hair.

The person had very pale skin.

The person was dressed oddly."

- ideas ted com

 

I've acquired a slight sun tan so I think I'm in the clear and hopefully no one will notice any other of these characteristics in me.

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9 minutes ago, Michael McMahon said:

"Interestingly, almost all (95.3 percent) of the participants stated that men were more likely to be creepy than women. Participants rated the following as the most likely characteristics of a creepy person:

The person had unkempt hair.

The person had very pale skin.

The person was dressed oddly."

 

 

 

Odd survey results -- would seem to suggest that many rock stars would be seen as creepy.   Unkempt, pale,  oddly dressed.   heheh. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

https://news.sky.com/story/kate-handles-tarantula-and-bird-as-she-and-prince-william-meet-student-nurses-who-stepped-up-during-pandemic-in-northern-ireland-12421340

This puts us in an awkward position. If Kate Middleton can do it then we'll all have to do it! I suppose if there's an initial fear as you go to pick up the spider then the your stress will spiral upwards due to cognitive dissonance and you won't feel up to following it through. If your trepidation level is below a certain threshold then you might be able to withstand the anxiety even if it increases as you pick it up. I remember kayaking with my cousin and we were about to dive off a pier into the water in the harbour. I felt hesitant and told him that evolution didn't favour people who like to jump off high things. Anyway I jumped in but he was laughing about my statement for a long time afterwards. Likewise maybe our instinctive impulse is telling us to be slightly wary of weird, unexpected creatures and to habitually, passively avoid them without actually forcing us to do so. That is to say we can overcome a mild, natural disinclination whenever we need to. In my diving analogy our ancestors probably didn't need to do much risky diving but of course it'd sometimes have been evolutionarily advantageous such as when they needed to escape from a threat or manoeuvre across territory in order to migrate. So evolution is full of competing demands that could contradict our natural emotional state. When we come back to the topic of spiders we can say that being fearless against insects and discerning towards which ones were and weren't poisonous would've been a helpful trait if you needed to camp outside for example. Thus you wouldn't have to waste energy fretting about an innocuous species of spider close by. 

Edited by Michael McMahon
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  • 4 months later...

One reason we're not meant to anthropomorphise creatures that aren't pets is because animals kill other animals. I remember as a young child playing in a neighbour's garden and stumbling across a horrid scene of a spider gorging on a fly trapped in its web. Therefore certain species of insects could appear satanically evil if we were ever to associate them with any sort of agency above an infinitesimal level. 

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10 hours ago, Michael McMahon said:

I always try to capture spiders alive that come into my accommodation; not necessarily for the spider's sake but simply out respect for the environment. 

I once worked at an island environmental resort where there were many spiders and we would be called to remove them from rooms quite frequently. It would take me less than a minute if it was in plain view, the bigger the better. ;)

The best way to capture them is to:

(1) get a clear lightweight wastepaper basket sized plastic bag.

(2) turn the bag inside out by grabbing the bottom and pushing the rest of the bag around/over your hand.

(3) make a small dip inside the bag with your fingers then quickly place the bag/dip over the spider on the wall.

(4) slowly move your fingers in to get the spider to move into the dip and off the wall.

(5) pinch the plastic bag to trap the spider inside it before removing it from the wall.

 

I you ever have to remove a spider from your skin flick it off with your finger or a stick as more infections occur when you smash bits of spider leg through your skin by swatting them with your hand.

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

"They're a common sight in Bangkok. Come nightfall, at any given outdoor market or busy road there will usually be at least one vendor with a pushcart loaded up with insect snacks, making many tourists squirm and others lick their lips."

https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/travel-guide-insects/index.html

 

I've inadvertently swallowed a few tiny flies in my lifetime but I don't think I'll be intentionally dining on insects in the immediate future. It seems like some insects are edible with the right preparation but the challenge is not just physical digestion but also psychological ingestion. If I ate a spider and even if my stomach didn't mind then there's still a risk that my fear response could make me throw up. A lot of insects aren't consumable by humans because they contain all manner of alien enzymes. Maybe if you were an insect connoisseur then perhaps you could treat them like wild mushrooms where some are dangerous or even hallucinogenic, paralytic or lethal while others are healthy and scrumptious! One evolutionary function of the creep response in this sense might have been to deter pre-historic humans from eating insects even during times of food shortages and famines. For example our ancient ancestors lacked the ability to write down their insect experimentations and without a means of technical communication they wouldn't have been able to distinguish which insects were intolerable. Perhaps one way to imagine what'd be like to eat an insect would be to contemplate the insect's prey; so a spider would be like a dense soup of flies!

 

Edited by Michael McMahon
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  • 3 weeks later...

Healthy respect, no fear of crawlies or snakes here though the I have been bitten by scorpions and centipedes, woke to a very large huntsman covering my eye that I removed in the dark and had numerous snakes in the house and gardens. My dog killed one in her kennel just last week.( RBB) 

The most common snakes here are all venomous. Plenty of Eastern Browns, Red Belly Blacks and Bandy Bandy and over the years there have been losses of horses to them.

In other animals, the reactions vary between individuals. Seems they have 'the instinct' or they don't ( to see a threat) Dogs that do, often pull their lips back while attacking as though the taste is also repulsive. This for both spiders and snakes, though I've had dogs that will stomp a spider instead.

Insects are generally tossed into the air with each nip in a continuous motion, snakes shaken violently.

Plenty of Funnel web spiders too. generally these are not toxic to canines and my terrier will jump on them if he finds them. Much appreciated when they are near where the kids play.

We prefer to let them be, but the warnings have been handy, especially in the dark/ using the bath room! 

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On 4/25/2022 at 4:34 AM, naitche said:

We prefer to let them be, but the warnings have been handy, especially in the dark/ using the bath room!

 

An advantage of catching them is that you get to momentarily admire them before throwing them away. As you can see my usual tactic is to get a bottle or cavity of some kind and then scrape some thin cardboard or paper under it to close it off. I might touch the plastic directly beneath them in order to slowly reduce my fear of them. I didn't touch that little one directly because I'm actually in Turkey right now where some of them can leap!

 

20220429_153218.thumb.jpg.3724857d737fbb3d75496c556f3a805a.jpg

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20 minutes ago, Michael McMahon said:

 

An advantage of catching them is that you get to momentarily admire them before throwing them away. As you can see my usual tactic is to get a bottle or cavity of some kind and then scrape some thin cardboard or paper under it to close it off. I might touch the plastic directly beneath them in order to slowly reduce my fear of them. I didn't touch that little one directly because I'm actually in Turkey right now where some of them can leap!

 

20220429_153218.thumb.jpg.3724857d737fbb3d75496c556f3a805a.jpg

Yes, thats my preferred method. Or simply place the jar on one side, the lid on the other, and bring the two together for spiders on the web. There was a large(orb?) spider whos web tangled in my hair this morning before I noticed. I carefully removed it out into the lemon tree popular with its species. He missed the branch and fell to the chickens.

By leaving them alone, I meant cause them no harm. Not always possible once they've strayed into enemy territory.

I was tempted to bring a beautiful Barking Gecko juvenile home to photograph yesterday, but decided the trip in my warm hands on a cold day, and a sudden release back into the cold might cause too much shock to such a tiny thing. I need to carry the means to photograph every time I step out. I've missed too many great opportunities.

Edited by naitche
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  • 5 weeks later...
Posted (edited)
On 4/29/2022 at 4:11 PM, naitche said:

Not always possible once they've strayed into enemy territory.

 

The insect below had huge whiskers on his head and I was worried about injuring it. Luckily the glass didn't snap the whiskers and the insect retrieved them from under the brim of the glass. I suppose if the situation allows for it injuring an insect would still be less worse than killing it.

20220529_022451.thumb.jpg.6099be6ddf08e89c78de179fd68c6c1f.jpg

Edited by Michael McMahon
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