Spiders or Snakes?

Invariably, conversations with my girlfriends always seem to come around to the same topic: “Which is worse, spiders or snakes?”

Okay, maybe not every conversation ends up here – but I have had this discussion many times. It’s like the girlie version of “Boxers or Briefs?”

From a moral standpoint, I would love to say that I am a friend to all creatures great and small, but both of these species creep me out completely, and when I say, “creep me out completely,” I am perhaps not properly conveying the kind of ridiculous shrieking and flailing about that is produced whenever I see either a spider or a snake. Just looking at pictures of them makes me nauseous. On a scientific level, of course, I love that there are researchers who devote their lives to studying these things.

But on a personal level, I want all snakes and spiders to die. Preferably, from at least two time zones away. And yesterday.

Some people just throw spiders and snakes into the same “yuck” boat; but those people are not bloggers with posts to fill. So just in time for Halloween, here is the Spiders or Snakes Smack-down, by category.

You’re welcome.

Invasion of Privacy

This one’s not even close. In 22 years of marriage, my husband has had to kill only 2 snakes on our property – and neither of them had ventured into the house. How many spiders have we killed? Their name is Legion, for they are many.

I would guess that we average 2-3 spiders per week in our house – and in the winter, that number goes up. If spiders would stay where they cotton-pickin’ belong (outside my home), we could establish some sort of understanding. But they insist on invading my space.

Years ago, a spider ran across my legs after I got into bed and now, nearly every night I do a “spider sweep,” lifting all the bedcovers up for a quick scan and eyeballing the ceiling and walls.

I’m not saying ease-of-spider-detection is the only reason I use only solid white sheets on our beds. But it’s one of the main ones.

Worst: Spiders

Inappropriate Behavior

This one’s a toughie. Some people would say that snakes just go around minding their own business – but those people would be wrong. What business could snakes possibly have? What do they produce? Do you ever see a snake slithering around with a box of Band-aids or a pair of jumper cables, trying to help people out? No, you do not. That’s because they are Up. To. No. Good.

At all times.

But spiders – spiders are like the ninjas of the animal kingdom. Why must they always dress only in dark colors? I’ll tell you why: Stealth. Why do they need 32 legs and the ability to dart in any direction at a second’s notice? Stealth. Why do they move at lightning speeds and swing on invisible ropes? Stealth.

What’s with all the stealthiness, spiders, hmmm? What are you hiding?

Worst: Eh – it’s a draw.


True story: the other day, I spotted a spider hanging off the tool shed. Thing was so enormous he could hardly even fit in his own web. As I stood there, heart thumping (not kidding), weighing my options, my fearless three-year-old started towards the spider to investigate, causing me to deliver the sort of scream that one normally reserves for those times when their child is toddling in front of a speeding train. (It worked: he stopped.)

The spider was dangling a good 18 inches away from the side of the shed, leaving no surface against which to squash him. He just hung there, taunting me, his gigantic lips curled into a sneer. If there’s anything worse than a huge spider dangling from your storage shed, it’s a huge spider who isn’t the slightest bit terrified of you, despite your significant size advantage. This spider was cocky, people.

Eventually I grabbed a shovel, whacked him to the ground, and then beat the crap out of the bark dust like a crazy person. I couldn’t even find the spider when I was done. I can only hope that I killed him, and that I won’t be hearing his cackle some night from a dark corner of my bedroom.

But at least I could dispatch him myself. Snakes? Not a chance in H-E-double-hockeysticks. The two times we’ve had snakes on our property, my husband had to fetch a shovel and chop their heads off, while I, after propelling myself into the house in a manner that defied physics, fell about and moaned and literally wrung my hands. As much as I loathe snakes, there is no way I could ever chop off an animal’s head.

Worst: Snakes

 General Creepiness

Snakes would seem to have the lower hand, here, what with the absence of legs, the beady eyes, the spastic tongues, and the laying of gigantic eggs as if they were chickens (which, where do the eggs come out? I don’t even wanna know.) Ever since that career-killing business in the book of Genesis, snakes have gotten worse press than Lindsay Lohan. And snakes slither, for crying out loud. What kind of thing does that?

Then again, spiders skitter. It doesn’t matter if you bash at them with a Size 14 shoe: chances are, as soon as you pounce, you’ll see the nasty thing darting off to the side, or worse – dropping down to God knows where (a pile of dirty clothing on the floor; under the bed, behind the dresser.)

Worst: Draw

Okay, now I’m just making myself sick and I haven’t even gotten to the fact that oh yeah, some of these things can even KILL you. I can’t go any farther. You can add anything to the conversation you’d like.

I’m gonna go think about something else for a while.


34 thoughts on “Spiders or Snakes?

  1. You’re right – it’s a tough one. But honestly? Two books in my formative years have made it difficult for me to flat out hate spiders.

    1) Charlotte’s Web. I mean, how can you hate a spider when Charlotte was so the shizznit? Especially if you’re a writer??? I just can’t do it.
    2) Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham. There’s no doubt that this was brought about by the spider lobby as a piece of pure pro-spider propaganda, but nevertheless, it totally worked on me.

    I can think of no books that make the snake out to be the bad guy. Therefore, they are significantly worse.

    • You make a valid argument. And I agree about Charlotte’s Web (have not read the other one.)

      Here’s my problem…the spiders I’ve met bear no resemblance to Charlotte, AT ALL. Not a single one ever wrote me a pleasing message with their web.

      I think I could get on board with spiders if they didn’t move so freaking fast. Things need to stay where I can keep my eyes on them.

    • If we’re using fictional literature as a guide, you have to look no further than Harry Potter to determine whether spiders or snakes are worse. The spiders are generally creepy, even though Aragog (?) was Hagrid’s friend — they scared the bejeezus out of poor Ron after all.

      BUT, the villain to end all villains is a snake: the “power of death” (Voldemort) becomes more snake-like as he becomes more consumed by evil; the house at Hogwarts that as full of evil, nefarious characters is Slytherin — symbol = snake.

      And if Harry isn’t bad enough, crack open the Bible and check out Genesis — the creature that is responsible for all evil ever done in this world? The snake.

      Case closed.


      • I cannot argue with you, Dan. Especially when you throw in the Holy Scriptures like that. Well-played, Sir.

        The only reason spiders still have a dog in this hunt is because of their freakin’ PREVALENCE. They are just everywhere!

    • Don’t mind spiders or snakes? What language are you speaking? Seriously. I’ve never heard anyone of either gender ever utter those words.

      Maybe you’re a cyborg. That would explain some of your general awesomeness.

  2. Haha, trying to figure out who writes this thang. LOVE it. Your writing style is sensational and your grasp of cuhreeeeepy is right on target!! 🙂

    Oh yeah… there’s the ABOUT tab… and so I will meet you soon… hi!

  3. My older brother has a spider phobia so I had to kill spiders for him when we both lived at home. They are gross but I’m ok with them.

    My mother has a snake phobia and I do believe I share this with her. As does my brother. However. Once there was a snake near the door that would not leave. My dad was away and my brother was a wimp. So. I had to chop its head off. Whoever said facing your fears will help you overcome them is a giant moron. I still hate snakes.

  4. As a fellow lover of science, you disappoint me. I love spiders and snakes, as does my daughter. Come on, Cathy. Snakes and spiders are awesome, and the vast majority are not dangerous. They’re VERY useful. They eat pests. I have yet to understand why people kill them on their property if they aren’t dangerous and/or too close (in bed sheets, for example). Do you enjoy mosquitos in your house and mice in your crawl space? If not, leave the snakes and spiders alone!

    • David…you are preaching to the choir here. I am BAFFLED by my non-scientific attitude towards these creatures.

      I. Can’t. Help. It.

      I have tried, I swear to you. I have reasoned with myself. I have becalmed myself. Nothing works. The minute I see one of these things, I fall to pieces. Maybe I was traumatized as a baby?

      As I get older, I get more averse to killing things. So my new rule is: if they will stay outside my home, they can live. Unless they are the size of that tool-shed spider. I couldn’t risk him getting inside the house.

      I’M SORRY. Truly.

  5. I’ve not problem with all things reptile. They usually run away or slither away. I’ve not been approached by one with fangs, though, so my perceptions might change if one kinda flattened out it’s head and showed me it’s teeth. : /

    Spiders, however… Seriously…what on earth is the point? They eat bugs? The mosquitos still eat me alive, so the spiders are fired. They’re just not doing an adequate job. I did a very horrible thing many years ago that I will regret for the rest of my life. I have no idea why I thought it might be a good idea…but I watched ‘Arachnophobia’. Traumatized for life. And the freaky factor with spiders for me is now immeasurable. The tricky part for me though is that I now have this little bitty girl living with me that I have to somehow maintain some form of self-control, whip out the best machismo I can muster, and casually put the creeper to death. I’ll never gently pick one up and put it outside. I get the biggest shoe or biggest book I can find and make the biggest noise possible because for one, I want to make sure it’s good and GONE, but I also don’t want to hear the crushing of its exoskeleton or the popping of its guts. I need to make sure that they will never procreate again.

    The next most repulsive, disgusting critter…roaches. But Praise the Lord, they don’t much live in the Pacific NW. I did once live, where they were almost the size of my shoe. GROSS!!!

    • You brought up another point…the crunching and popping that ensues when you crush a large spider. SO. GROSS.

      See, David (aka Screaming Kettle) is gonna totally disown both of us, but I am picking up what you’re laying down.

      Roaches *are* gross, but they’re not nearly as plentiful as spiders…and they don’t come after you JUST to bite you, per se.

  6. I’m laughing out loud here. SO FUNNY. Especially: what business could a snake have? HA! Love it.

    I don’t love spiders but I leave them alone and they leave me alone. I never kill them if I can help it because spider’s are nature’s way of doing away with insects that hang around the house looking for mischief. But I must say that I once almost had an apoplexy when I stumbled over a cache of harmless snakes in the back yard – thankfully, where I used to live. They were young snakes, recently hatched. You have no idea what horrible is until you’ve seen a whirlwind of snakes all coiled around themselves and sliding down a grassy hill. A while later I almost fainted in the same back yard when I saw a snake trying to swallow a toad. TALK ABOUT HORROR!!!

    Needless to say, I saved the toad. But he seemed to be in a state of utter shock. Can’t say I blame him.

    • I would like to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the nightmares that will now ensue every time I think of your little nest of spiders anecdote.

      That is seriously AWFUL. I honestly think I would faint dead away if I saw that. OR, possibly, set new human decibel records.

      Again, I try to “leave spiders alone” when they’re outside, but if they come in my house…they’re toast.

  7. It’s not even close – snakes are far worst than spiders. Snakes are mentioned 24 times in the Bible (Kings James) and serpents 36 times in the NIV, and never in a good light. Spiders well, I can’t find them mentioned at all in the bible.
    Over 100,000 people die each year world wide do to snake bites, yes 100.000 a year. Most of these are reported in Africa and India, where most of the deaths are not even recorded. The USA only averages 20 deaths per year due to snake bites, largely due to are ability to respond quickly with medical help.
    Spiders on the other hand have only been responsible for 8 deaths world wide since the year 2000.
    The bible has plenty to say about snakes. Genesis Ch. 3 “Now the serpent was more crafty (deadly) than any other beast—
    Jeremiah Ch 8 vs 17 “See, I will send venomous snakes among you,vipers that can’t be charmed and they will bite you—
    Jesus said ” I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy”
    SNAKES not spiders is what we should be concerned about, or should we?

  8. Funny thing: Scott likes to recount the number of spiders we eat in our…..oh. never mind. Let me just say that if we, together, ever encounter either of those two detestible creatures (and spiders are creepiest of creepy in my estimation), I guarantee I will mob crush you in my attempt to leave the vicinity. Sorry.

    • Remind me to tell you the story of the time I went to a storage shed facility with a co-worker, and we heard a noise in the boxes, and as I was lunging to escape, I actually PUSHED HER towards the boxes.

      I am still ashamed sometimes, in the middle of the night…

  9. This is pure awesomeness, Cathy. One of the worst parts of moving to TN from IL was realizing I’d now potentially be in contact with poisonous varieties of spiders and snakes. Illinois has Black Widows but they were very rare where I lived. Now that I’m in Nashville, I think that every spider is a Brown Recluse and I’m fairly certain I demolished a Black Widow in my best friend’s garage. I actually got pest control at my house because the spiders freaked me out- I don’t have any Brown Recluses here (yet) but I somehow believe that they’re casing the joint. I don’t mind killing spiders so long as I have the advantage of seeing them long before they see me. Your story about the spider in your bed? I’m going to definitely up my spider patrol before bedtime now. Thankfully, I have managed to avoid seeing any snakes here so far.

    • Okay, I am picking up what you’re laying down. Because we lived in Atlanta for 11 years, and we ended up getting a regular pest service there, too. I’ve never seen so many bugs in my life! We even had a few small scorpions.

      Today the hubs and I watched a PBS special on Burmese Pythons in Florida that are so big they EAT ALLIGATORS (I saw this with my own two eyes.) I kept hollering at my husband, “I AM NEVER GOING TO THE EVERGLADES.”

      Just to make sure he knew.

  10. I hate spiders! I accidentally killed a tarantula a few weeks ago…

    (and I thought I didn’t like snakes but handling the corn snake for outdoor ed has been pretty neat!)

    • Okay…whaaaa….?? I am all kinds of confused.


      I don’t even understand the words that are coming out of your mouth. And the thought of “handling” a corn snake (whatever that is) makes me shudder…

      You are far more amazing than I am, apparently.

  11. You put the spiders and snakes conversation in the same category as boxers or briefs. Here’s my problem with that: boxers and briefs both belong in…. intimate places. Spiders and snakes do not. If I EVER found I spider down my pants, I would willing die- right there on the spot. I’d give up the Ghost and ask Jesus to drive me home, because I just couldn’t have that.

    Now, in order to semi-redeem my man card, I do kill them myself and like you, I make sure they’re not recognizable when I’m done.

    I seriously enjoyed this!

    • “…ask Jesus to drive me home…” BRILLIANT.

      You’re right about the inappropriateness of spiders (or snakes) in clothing. I honestly didn’t think of that. Sometimes, if an article of clothing has been on the floor (I am not always the tidiest of housekeepers), I do a “spider shake” before I put it on.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s