Another Halloween spider…
Even though spiders can bring on arachnophobia for many people, they are a beneficial and necessary part of the ecological system, keeping the insect population under control.
Scientists are researching if venom from spiders can be made into a natural pesticide. They are also looking into medical uses for spider venom, including treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease, heart arrhythmia, and strokes.
Fried tarantulas are considered a delicacy in Cambodia; some Native tribes in Venezuela also dine on these large arachnids. (I think I’ll pass on these dishes…)
Many myths and legends about spiders have been spun through the centuries. Some are creation stories, such as how Spider Woman created the world. According to the Greeks, spiders themselves were created through a weaving competition between the goddess Athena and the princess Arachne. Of course, gods and goddesses aren’t very good losers, so when Arachne won (and gloated about it), she and her loom became the first spider.
The Japanese told stories about Tsuchigumo (Earth spiders) who were a group of beings that lived under the mountains. The ancient Egyptians saw spiders as a legacy of Neith, the goddess of weaving, who was said to have woven the world into existence on her loom.
Some Native American myths tell of Grandmother Spider who created everything through shining threads that came from her body. Another story says the constellation Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) came about because of seven men who climbed a spider’s web into the heavens in search of paradise, and became stars in the process.
And later, we have “Little Miss Muffet,” the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “Spider’s Web” (another song), the giant spider Shelob from Tolkien’s "Lord of the Rings", “Charlotte’s Web,” Aragog (one of Hagrid’s pets in the Harry Potter series), and Spider Man.