Some people will say that ignorance is bliss. I do not. I say that ignorance breeds fear. Fear may be good, and natural, in some situations, but only if you don’t freeze. The only way to truly combat fear is to educate oneself about whatever it is you fear. While your fear may never truly go away, depending on what it is, you will at least have the knowledge about the subject, and, hopefully, you will be less fearful.

So, imagine my anger when the mother of one of Lily’s friends “educated” her about black and brown widows. Well, really, just told her how to identify them and they are extremely poisonous, so poisonous their bite will kill you.

Before you say another word about fear of black/brown widows is healthy, let me remind you that she is nine, and that, even if their venom is more toxic than a rattlesnake’s and could kill you, but rarely does, she is impressionable and easily scared. Several weeks following this “education,” Lily would wake in the middle of the night afraid a black/brown widow was going to come and get her because we have a few outside around our yard. Actually, at that point, I don’t think she was aware that we did. Regardless, she’s waking up at 2 and 3 am terrified, unable to go back to sleep because of this “education.”

Well, pardon me if I am less than thrilled about this. There is no purpose in this “education” other than to create fear. I’d rather she remained ignorant to some degree. Unlike the cute jumping spiders, I’d told her that these spiders were poisonous and to leave them alone as their bite is painful. So, holding was out of the question. Matter of fact, don’t even poke at them. Looking at them is fine, but, otherwise, leave them alone.

The mother had done such a good job of scaring her, though, that I needed to spend more time on this. Fortunately, we are signed up for Wildlife Explorer. Every month, we receive profile cards on different animals with facts on every aspect we know about their lives. We just so happen to have a black widow profile card.

In case you haven’t seen my Facebook postings, you may not know that Lily likes to capture jumping spiders and hold them. Mainly, she likes the little phidippus audax with the metallic green, or blue, fangs. (The color of the fangs denotes the gender.)

phidippus audax, the daring jumping spider

Phidippus Audax, the daring jumping spider

In an attempt to ease her fear, yesterday morning, we sat down and read the card. We learned a great many things about black widows. For instance, they are nocturnal. They eat beetles, including cockroaches. (Yay!) They are not remotely interested in people. In fact, they are likely to hide from you. They will bite if provoked or if you corner them say in a boot or something. (Well, duh, they don’t want to die.) The males are tiny compared to the females, brown, nonpoisonous, and are rarely eaten during the mating by the females. That’s just a myth. The females will eat the males if they mistake them for prey because, essentially, their eyesight sucks and, unless you know what you are doing, which the males do, anything disturbing their web is prey. Oh, and their bite, while potentially fatal, rarely is. One last thing: about half of all spider bites reported in the US every year are from black widows. Just imagine how many spider bites go unreported, a great many of those, I’m sure, are not from black widows.

As for the black widow who’d set up shop at our front door, this same mother killed it. Can we say, “pissed?” Yeah, that was me. I had gone inside to get something to catch it with so I could move her to a less trafficked area. She was a beauty. When Lily found out what the mom had done, she cried.

Just because something is poisonous doesn’t mean you have to kill it. Matter of fact, the vast majority of spiders is not harmful to humans, yet people still kill them. ☹ Yes, that makes me sad.

So, before you start killing things out of fear, educate yourself… unless it’s cockroaches. Go ahead and kills those. You know those suckers will outlive us all anyway. (grin)