How Not to Pick Up a Spider: Lessons From the Amazon

Louis Herman
October 10, 2018

1) Don’t go to the Amazon Rainforest. The easiest way to avoid even seeing spiders (let alone sloths, piranhas, poison dart frogs, rad birds that look like dinosaurs, and like ten different types of monkey) is to give one of the most biodiverse regions of the world a wide berth. If you don’t want to pick up a spider the wrong way, definitely make sure you don’t go to the Amazon! 

2) Don’t go on any of the trails. Let’s assume you somehow messed up step one and have now found yourself in the Amazon rainforest, surrounded by beautiful greenery and jungle sounds. That’s okay! We all make mistakes. What’s important at this point is to make sure you stay in your room with the door closed, protected from all the nasty creatures (which, in addition to everything listed above, include anywhere from five hundred to a thousand different species of butterfly). In this way, you’ll ensure that nothing can sneak up on you, and that you have a 0% chance of accidentally picking up a spider incorrectly and having it run up your forearm. That you also have a 0% chance of experiencing the beauty of a virtually untouched rainforest and seeing the complexity of its ecosystem at work is a small price to pay for not having to feel the creepy legs of a bug on you!

3) Don’t go on the night hikes. I get it! You screwed up again. Again, it’s totally fine: every now and then everyone messes up and (against their better judgment) experiences the majesty of nature. It’s all good, you can still salvage this trip; you just gotta stay in at night. It’s easy and convenient! Sure, you’ll miss out on holding a snake, seeing (non-poisonous) frogs, and even a super cool variety of crawfish, but it’s absolutely worth it; don’t mess with spiders if you have any choice in the matter.

4) Don’t pick up the spider when your cool guide says it’s safe. Most of this article has been satire, but there comes a point where I feel obliged to give legitimate advice. If you go on the night hike and your guide picks up a scorpion spider and you ask if it’s dangerous and he says no and extends his hand to pass it to you, don’t accept.

5) Don’t be the one to pull the spider off your friend Jordan’s face!!! I can’t stress this enough: after you accept the spider from your cool guide and pass it around to the other three or four people in your group, the spider will get sick of being on peoples’ hands and decide to start exploring. It will do this right around the time it gets to your friend Jordan, who will be mostly okay with the situation initially because he is low-key the most outdoorsy of the group, after your guide (who, again, is so cool). The spider will run up your friend Jordan’s forearm, up his back, and then onto his face. He (Jordan, not the spider) will say something along the lines of “This is so cool! Please remove this arachnid from my face!” with probably a few more expletives, which will be understandable because there will be an arachnid on his face. You will feel tempted to give in to his words and take the sizable eight legged beast off of what looks to be his eye. Don’t do this! It will only lead to trauma for you, the important one in this narrative!!

6) You know what? I get it. You’re bad at following directions. It’s fine; sometimes that’s how it goes. But please, I’m begging you, put the spider on the ground. Don’t hold in your hand staring down at it because it moves in a super cool way and you’re trying to figure out what the giant arm-like pincers in the front of its body are used for, because it will make a break for it and run up your forearm and up your back and make it all the way to your neck before someone pulls it off and has the decent sense to put it on the ground like a rational human being.

7) It’s too late; you’ve picked up the spider the wrong way: in a panic because your friend, Jordan, needed your help. It’s crawled up your back onto your neck and been brought to the ground. You have to mitigate the situation somehow, so you remember all the incredible things you did in the rainforest, from yoga in the canopy layer during a thunderstorm to floating for half an hour down a tributary to the Amazon River, to maybe glimpsing an anaconda swimming through the river on the canoe ride over. In light of such amazing things, a spider walking on you maybe doesn’t seem too bad—and after all, you were the one who invaded its habitat in the first place.

In the end, the right way to pick up a spider, for me, was to mess up horrifically but then realize afterwards that if I had the option to do the whole weekend over again, I wouldn’t do anything any different. The spider was just a small part of a beautiful experience that, days later, I still haven’t processed in full. If you get the chance to go to the Amazon, take it: you might never get to fall down in the tropical mud again in your life.

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Louis Herman

<p>Hi! I'm a current junior at the University of Rochester studying the history of early modern globalization, with a specific focus on links between Asia and Latin America. When I'm not busy writing papers, you can probably find me lying down on the beach, soaking in the sunlight, and reading sci-fi.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2018 Fall
Home university:
University of Rochester
Hometown:
Rocky Point, NY
Major:
History
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