The Loneliness of the Spider

spiderSpring has finally arrived, and I’ve had the windows open to welcome the air into my winter-stuffy home. So I wasn’t surprised to see the tiny spider scrambling across my bathroom floor this morning. I reached out to squish it and was struck with sympathy. Yes, you read that right.

Sympathy.

One spider. A truly small one. Certainly not long hatched from its egg. All alone.

Ants are always leaving the safety of their anthills to search their environs for food. They help each other drag large morsels back to their hills. They work together to care for their young. They join together to battle other ant colonies and predators who would decimate their communal home. I wonder if they mourn the ants that don’t return from a day of foraging. The ants who were stepped on, eaten by a larger bug, drowned in a sprinkler’s spray.

Bees live in colonies, too. Do the homebodies miss the drones that are caught in spider webs or lost forever inside windows? Scientists tell us that swatted hornets send out help-me pheromones to their friends and family. Bluebottle flies buzz around together. Gnats and mosquitoes annoy us in swarms. Everyone knows that if you find one cockroach, there are at least a hundred more hiding close by.

But what about the lonely spider? She lives entirely alone. She is feared and loathed in equal measure. She is the monster of the bug world: hunting, luring, and gobbling those that cross her path. She doesn’t know her family, she has no BFF, and she lives to kill and kills to live. After her lifetime of murder, she eats her mate, lays her hundreds of eggs, and dies. Her babies hatch and begin their lonely lives. And everyone hates them. Is there any creature besides the bird that is happy to see a spider? And let’s face it, the bird would be just as happy to see a beetle or an earthworm.

Even gardeners like me who are glad to see the spider eating pests in the vegetable garden are disgusted by them when they appear inside the house.

I considered the lonely little spider racing frantically across my bathroom floor. She was searching desperately for a dark corner in which to hide. Nobody loved her. Her mother and father were already dead. She would live alone. My heart was moved with pity.

And then I squished her.