It’s almost October, and it’s time to appreciate spiders again! As most people are aware, spiders are not insects, and at this time of year are more accurately members of the Piñata family. Your average female autumn spider can be recognized by her resemblance to an ottoman or small cargo plane. People seem to be quite upset at the size of spiders this time of year and yet those same people are not at all happy about encountering hundreds of tiny spiders in the springtime either. You really can’t please some people.

The reason spiders are so husky now is that they are completely packed with the bugs everyone was complaining about earlier, only in a permanently disabled condition. Generally speaking your tubbier arachnids stay outside but every so often they will enter the homes of very loud people.

The trouble with looking up information on things like spiders is that the first two pages of links are from pest-control companies. This is not the place to get reliable information, and even the reliable information on these sites will often concede there is no real problem with spiders, but offer you twelve noxious ways to send them to heaven anyway. “There are 35,000 species of spiders and only a few of them bite,” one will say, knowing that the casual reader has already blacked out at “35,000.”


I had no more confidence in the chatty report in the newspaper that began “If you feel like you’re running into spiders everywhere right now, you probably are.” This is sort of unhelpful unless it is important for the reader to immediately determine if they suffer from delusional parasitosis. Presumably such a person will be relieved to discover they’ve most likely had actual spiders crawling over them.

The sensation of imaginary bugs and spiders crawling on or under the skin is called formication, but it’s not as much fun as it sounds. Formica is from the Latin for cheap countertops, and among the many possible explanations for the feeling of formication is, it says here, menopause. Fuck of course, menopause. Why not? It’s just God’s way of distracting you from feeling fat, dried-up, and periodically on fire.

So it’s something like Morgellon’s disease, in which patients suffer from the conviction there are itchy fibers growing in their skin, even though there aren’t. But suffer they do; it resembles the civic psychosis derived from consuming too many conspiracy theories. The stuff you’re afraid of isn’t real, but by God you’re gonna strap on an AR-15 and go out and menace somebody anyway.

Back to our spider friends. Spiders may spin small webs early in the season but by fall they are really hitting their stride. The autumn spider has a remarkable way of getting a web started. She will shoot silk out her butt vicinity and let it spin out and ripple in the breeze until it catches onto something. Then she pulls it taut and anchors it and strengthens it and before long she’s in the web business. Those of us feeling paralyzed over the daily horrors in the news should take heart and adopt the simple faith of the autumn spider. When you don’t know where to turn, or what to do, shoot something out your butt and keep hope alive. It will land somewhere, and then you just strap in and hold on. Build your web. All your friends will be doing it too. And bit by bit we’ll have the whole place covered.

Then we can really start scaring some people.