Sniffing Spiders

They say that in West Texas everything bites, scratches, stings or all three which seems to be true for m

"I'm bored!" How many times have you heard that from some kid slouching in front of you as though your only function in life is to entertain them. My reply is usually, Did you know that "I'm bored" is just another way to say, "I'm too stupid to figure out something to do." Unfortunately with many kids, making their own entertainment involves breaking things and the more expensive what they break, the more entertaining.

Fortunately there is a way to entertain kids, especially at night when camping, that involves only a flashlight. There are two kinds of spiders, those which spin webs to snare their food and ground spiders which live in holes and travel around on the ground in search of anything smaller than they are to eat.

The unusual thing about ground spiders is their eyes are highly reflective, like a cat but perhaps ten times brighter. The other thing is the area of reflection is very narrow, only 2 or two inches at about 60 inches or five feet. This means that the light source has to be about two inches from your eye to see the reflection at five feet. The reflection of a spider's eyes is brilliant blue-white, very much like a diamond. The other thing is when a light is shined on them, the immediately turn around and look at it.

I play a game called "Sniffing Spiders" in which I walk around with the kids while holding a flashlight against the side of my head so the light beam and my line of sight are only a couple inches apart. When I spot a spider on a sidewalk or on open ground where it can't hide, I tell them that I smell a spider. Then I go sniffing around as I keep getting closer to the spider until I'm finally close enough that they can see it. Then they will claim that they can smell it too (even though as far as I know, ground spiders have no odor, at least not one a human can smell.

After a couple times, I give them the flashlight and they will entertain themselves for hours trying to find spiders but they don't know the trick. When they tire of trying to find them by smell, I show them how to spot them and they will be off and going for another hour or so.


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Copyright 2008 by Jim Foreman