“No, I wasn’t doing the whip or the nae nae! I walked into another spider web!” I hate SPIDER-webs! I don’t have a thing against spiders, but those pesky webs can absolutely drive you insane while out roaming around the woods this time of year.
Actually, it seems like they are everywhere you go. I even run into them walking out of the house on the way to work in the mornings. Those sticky things get all over you and it takes forever to get all the pieces off.
What is it with all the spider webs everywhere you walk this time of year? You can’t seem to step ten feet in the woods without having one fully wrapped around your head and plastering your head to your hat.
If you already have a fear of spiders and you walk into one, that makes it even worse. Especially if while trying to detangle yourself quickly to avoid being Charlotte’s next meal you see her dangling from the bill of your hat, or more terrifyingly scurrying across the bridge of your nose!
Like I said, I don’t have a problem with spiders whatsoever, but I have seen many a grown man do all sorts of crazy dance moves while trying to extricate themselves from a spider web in the middle of the forest. I admit it can be entertaining if it isn’t you caught in the web.
Some of those webs are tough to get out of, too. Scientists even say that some spider silk is stronger than steel of the same diameter. That explains a lot when you are trying like mad to get them off of you.
So why does it seem like they are everywhere? Well, there is actually a pretty common sense reason for that, and thanks to the internet, information such as this is always at our fingertips.
As summer gives way to fall, it isn’t that the spiders come out of the wood work. They were there all along. What happens is that they are maturing and getting bigger, and therefore, so do their webs.
Most of the spiders that like to web the entire forest into one big silk shirt are what is known as orb-weavers. These are the spiders whose webs we seem to run into most often, whether they are stretching from tree to tree or houses to fence posts everywhere.
Orb-weavers spiders include those gigantic black and yellow garden spiders that can just seemingly appear at the corner of the house, and the Cross or Spiny Back orb weavers that seem to think the entire forest is their personal buffet line. Now all of these guys have a good reason to build their webs, and it isn’t just to torture us unsuspecting outdoors folk.
They are just looking for their next meal. Spiders are actually more effective at controlling the bug population than other animals such as birds or even bats. I just don’t like running into their dinner plate when they leave it hanging out there.
Luckily for us, humans aren’t on the spider’s menu. Another little bit of comfort we can take when getting all caught up in spider webs is that almost all the spiders we have in Appalachia are harmless.
Spiders in general are not out looking to give humans a nasty bite. They are actually very docile and only bite when left no alternative. Even in the rare cases when someone does get bitten, those bites are often no worse than a bee sting.
Yes, the hills and hollows we call home do have a couple more lethal arachnids in the black widow and the brown recluse, but these spiders are much harder to find, and thankfully they prefer to remain on the ground and not building webs to ensnare us as we wander about.
Still, those little nuggets of comfort are hard to come by when your face is firmly implanted in a sticky cocoon with eight little legs scurrying past your ear. I will offer one bit of advice, if taking a stroll in the woods this time of year, take along a nice walking stick and wave it like a magic wand in front of you to clear out all of the cobwebs as you go.
And if you see a camo clad figure in the woods doing an impression of Harry Potter and his wand doing his best hip hop dance moves, it wasn’t me, and it most likely involved a big sticky web!
Roger Wolfe is an Outdoor Columnist for Civitas media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org