If we were having coffee today I’d hope I didn’t gross you out but I want to talk about spiders. Well, to be honest, I just want to tell you about finding spiders. It’s really no big deal. One of the coolest things I learned in the Girl Scouts was finding spiders. (Yeah, that’s right, Girl Scouts, I was a Girl Scout, but that’s another story).
I was reminded of this recently when I found one of those clip-on-the-brim-of-your-hat flashlights. It’s great for taking out the dog at night. As she was sniffing around trying to find that one, special, ideal little spot for, well, you know … I was looking around. I saw these little lights shining back at me. Tiny little lights. One here, two there, another one over yonder. And I thought back to learning this trick in the Girl Scouts. [Okay, when my daughter was a Brownie I was a troop leader for camping trips and we had to attend troop leader camp training. If you are a troop leader, you are a Girl Scout, okay?]
Anyway, if you hold a bright flashlight right between your eyes and shine it out six to fifteen feet away, slowly sweeping the beam, you will soon be aware of these tiny little bright lights peering back at you. Sometimes you might hit a dewdrop reflection but the brighter more distinctive lights are spiders. Or to be more accurate spider eyes. These spiders are actually saying, “here’s looking at you, kid.”
Their retinas reflect light like a cat’s eye, but they’re a little different in that they direct it directly back at the source. During the Apollo missions, they deployed laser reflectors on the surface of the moon that do the same thing. If a laser is pointed at the right coordinates, the light will bounce back right to the source (moon landing hoaxers forget about this simple proof we were there).
Anyway, the hat brim light is in the perfect place to do this same trick. Actually, it’s ideal because it is stable and very bright. The little lights can quickly disappear if the spider turns away but the coolest thing is when they are on the move and you see that little light dancing over the uneven ground of the backyard as they make their way through the grass. It’s a fun trick to show kids (which is why they showed us this in Scout camp training). If for some reason you don’t believe me, you can hone in and get close and you’ll see it. Even a very tiny spider causes a profound reflection.
WARNING: If you are deathly afraid of spiders never do this! You will never go outside again! Ever!
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina. Find info about him and his books at http://thefensk.com