Blazing Arachnids

By CodingStrategies on March 30th, 2018

Long ago in a village on the plain below Mount Olympus lived a beautiful Lydian maiden named Arachne. She devoted her days to weaving and embroidering, and such was her skill that even the nymphs from the woods crept out and gazed in wonder at the magnificent pictures she wove. Arachne was so sure of her skills that she boasted that not even Athena, the goddess of wisdom and patroness of arts could rival her work. Athena was so angry that she visited Arachne disguised as an old woman, and cautioned her against tempting the wrath of the gods. Arachne dismissed the warning and claimed if ever she met Athena she would challenge her to a weaving contest, whereupon Athena threw off her cloak and accepted the challenge.

Athena chose for her tapestry four separate contests between mortals and the gods in which these individuals were punished for considering themselves as equals to the gods. Arachne’s weaving depicted ways the gods had misled and abused mortals, in particular Zeus tricking and seducing women. As they finished their projects, one glance at Athena's work sufficed to show that Arachne was beaten. In despair, Arachne tried to hang herself with her own weaving. However, Athena was unwilling for her rival to escape and changed her suspended body into a spider, condemning her to continue spinning webs throughout the ages. The name science uses to classify spiders (arachnid) is derived from a version of this Greek myth.

Sure, spiders are fascinating and their webs can be mesmerizing. Even arachnophobes appreciate how they control the flying insect population without chemicals or toxic sprays. But no matter how many times we tell ourselves they are helpful creatures, deep down we all know that spiders are hideous monsters created in a secret place of permanent darkness. In Western society alone, 55 percent of women and 18 percent of men are terrified of spiders. With arachnophobia so widespread, it’s no surprise the world is full of scary spider stories, both fact and fiction.

There are many ways to get rid of spiders. Some folks employ the catch-and-release program where they capture spiders inside the home and gently relocate them to an appropriate venue at some distance from the residence. Others employ a healthy dose of insecticide, available in a number of formulas. There is also the option of using the vacuum cleaner as a form of mechanical destruction (although what’s to stop a spider from simply climbing back out?). Last, spiders can be eliminated with sticky tape traps or simply squashed by those warriors brave enough to get up close and personal with the terrifying beastie.

Just be careful of using more aggressive arachnid eradication techniques. According to local news, fire broke out at a mobile home in Tucson on October 17, 2017, apparently started when a man tried to kill a colony of spiders nesting beneath the dwelling. Firefighters believe that he was using a propane torch in an attempt to eliminate the spider infestation, and the resulting fire could not be controlled. The mobile home was completely consumed, but the elderly woman who owned it was carried out by her son and experienced only minor injuries. It took 23 firefighters 11 minutes to extinguish the conflagration (ICD-10-CM code X00.0XXA, Exposure to flames in uncontrolled fire in building or structure, initial encounter; and Y92.028, Other place in mobile home as the place of occurrence of the external cause).

Thus ends a brave attempt to eliminate Earth’s arachnid overlords, using a spider-killing flamethrower as the weapon of choice. Although the mission successfully resulted in the deaths of the offending eight-legged horrors, the gentleman in question also displaced two humans who must now seek new (hopefully) spider-free accommodations.



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