Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bugs Pollyanna Style

I was one of those kids who ran screaming from whatever was buzzing around my head.  I passionately hated bugs with few exceptions. Spiders were (and are to some degree) my nemesis. 

I admit my fears of the insect world are a bit irrational.  But only a bit.  After all, I'm deathly allergic to bees and carry an Epipen where ever I go.  I grew up in an old house where wolf spiders commonly grow to the size of small mice.  I was once bit by a Brown Recluse and have photos of the necrotic wound to prove it.

But even with this reinforcement, I do not want to pass my fear on to my boys.  I want them to respect and revere nature, not scream and throw heavy objects at it.  Reverance to bugs has been a hard behavior to model, especially in regard to spiders. 

As you know (because I keep bringing it up), we saw a black widow last Saturday.  In the first few moments of that experience, my heart pounded and my hands shook (before you think I'm a total sissy, let me tell you, I'd actually brushed my leg against her web). I fought to keep my voice calm as I squatted down a few feet from her.

"Look how her web is close to the ground.  Why do you think that is?" I asked.  The boys squatted carefully beside me and the three of us spent several minutes watching the spider wrap up her lunch.  Sitting there, thinking as an observer, suppressing the "OH MY GOD, RUN!" instinct, I had to admit, the black widow was beautiful in her creepy way.  Her black body glistened and her red hourglass glowed like neon. I marveled how as my curiosity about her grew, my fear diminished. I felt like the Pollyanna of bugs, finding the good in a black widow.

Not that my fears are gone, mind you.  As I write this and think of that spider, I've goosebumps on my arms and the hair on the back of my neck is standing up.  And I can't promise you, if I ever see something like this again, I won't scream and run.

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In an earlier post, I mentioned how on our hikes we write nature questions on an index card to look up later.  Someone asked about our resources and here is my answer in regard to bugs.

Favorite sites for bug research:

Bug Guide

Animal Diversity Web
(much, much more than bugs)

What's that Bug?

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