26 September 2012

Spinnen: Dutch Spiders

On Saturday, we made a trip to Breda, the next big city to the west of Tilburg, but as the pictures and post related to that trip are coming along slowly, please enjoy the following example of slight mental instability:

In Chicago, we didn't come across too many creepy-crawlies. Occasionally, some rather tiny spider or a small centipede-y thing would make its way through our apartment, and every spring we had ants tread through the kitchen when the rains started. As an arachnophobe, I never cared for any of these "visitors" but had at least trained myself to muster the courage to vanquish the occasional 1cm, 8-legged foe. Though I would continue to call on Poppa for anything bigger and regularly tried to satisfy myself with the thought that we never saw a cockroach.

Now we live on the edge of town rather than someplace urban - our neighborhood has only been developed in the last 20 years as a type of suburb - and we are surrounded by farms/rural area and neighborhood livestock. Needless to say, I was unprepared for the size of the "average" spin (spider) in Tilburg nor the extent of the visible population.

While exploring the neighborhood one day, I saw a spin so big (about 5cm) that I would likely pass out if I saw it in the house. A few days later I found a much bigger spin (about 7cm) that would probably cause me to drop dead on sight if I found it inside. You cannot go anywhere outside without finding one in a very obvious spot, which only leads you to wonder how many more are hiding out of plain sight. When you do find a vacant spinneweb (spiderweb) and decide to clean it off, it is astounding to see how strong the silk actually is as it makes a gross little popping noise when you pull it off (using a stick or something else to give you a bit of distance, of course).

This spin was happily perched in our garden before a big storm blew it away. Little Man and I watched it eat a bumble bee three times it size. It was a little cool, a little gross, and a little terrifying all at the same time.

Clearly, I am not a good candidate for any kind of adventure to the Amazon or anything closer to the equator than Florida.

This has led to the interesting internal delima when considering how to react to spinnen in front of the Little Man. Not wanting to pass on a fear, especially when he is already at an age likely to develop fears on their own, I try not to react negatively. If he finds a spin on a hedge and smacks at it, I tell him "it's a good bug" and to "be nice" and "respect its home" while I keep a mental image of it leaping off the web and onto his body with angry, flaring pincers to myself. And I can do my best to direct our walks so we don't go past the hedgerow that I like to call "the colony."  We'll see how well this strategy holds together the day I find "the big one" in the house.


  1. I can SO relate. Just do your best to not contribute to his fears.

  2. Too funny. I saw the picks of Malachi too. Wow, he is getting big fast. We were just talking about Reilly feeling like she weighed a hundred pounds the other day. She needs to grow up faster so she's be able to carry her little sister though.

  3. Meant to take out the "be" da**it!


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