The Stuff of Nightmares


I’m seriously thinking of widening this blog’s theme to include creatures of the abyss…mainly because I’m tempted to have a rant about my noisy new neighbours in particular and large sections of antisocial British society in general, but also because some creatures of the night are so scary that these critters can only be described as stuff of nightmares.

Take spiders for example. Known collectively as arachnids, there are some 80,000 different species in this class and some 450 families of various description. Most arachnids hunt for live prey, but mites and ticks, which also belong into the arachnid class, are blood-suckers of a parasitic nature.

Not all spiders and scorpions are deadly or harmful to humans and other mammals. The arachnids include also harvestmen, typically referred to as daddy-longlegs, which are quite harmless, if not particularly cuddly or pretty. As an individual who grew up in a cold climate, where spiders are totally harmless, I have no right to be scared of them, but in some countries with a hot climate, people can be seriously harmed or even killed by a spider’s bite.

Most spiders inject their victim with venom in order to paralyse it, so it can be eaten later or they kill their victim straight away to minimise risk to themselves and to have an imprompty snack. Since most arachnids cannot swallow solids, they are forced to squirt digestive enzymes into their victims’ bodies. Once the victim’s innards are liquefied, the arachnid can suck up the tasty morsel inside the body’s shell.

Who doesn’t remember the chilling scene in one of the Harry Potter books (by J K Rowling), where poor Ron Weasley has to face his ultimate nightmare, namely giant spiders ? Or one of my favourite films, The Thief of Bagdad (1940, directed by Michael Powell and Ludwig Berger), where child-actor Sabu had to battle it out with a gigantic guardian spider, while being caught in her net…not to mention little Frodo in The Lord of the Rings (by J R R Tolkien). The hapless hobbit gets himself cocooned, while a huge spider’s eyeing him up for lunch.

To many people spiders are so scary, they have developed phobias. My Willow the Vampire isn’t scared of animals like spiders, but she will have to battle it out with terrifying creatures of the abyss in the upcoming Willow the Vampire and the Würzburg Ghosts, where Ragnarök, or the end of the world as we know it, will throw some pretty horrible nightmare critters at her…literally.

This image shows a European garden spider (Ara...

Image via Wikipedia

Among some of the best known spiders are the Black widow, the tarantula, the jumping spider, the money spider with her hammock-web, the Spitting spider and the Bird-eating spider, a creature large enough to devour small birds, lizards and small snakes.

I’m not sure if it’s the eight hairy legs, the fat lumbering body or the fact they have several eyes with diurnal vision that scares me the most…spiders are neither cuddly nor pretty and as far as I can tell their only redeeming feature seems to be that they eat mosquitoes, flies, midgets and wasps…all the irritating buzzing things that tend to bite or sting me.

What’s your worst nightmare critter?

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9 thoughts on “The Stuff of Nightmares

  1. Worst nightmare creature… well, there are lots of movies right now about zombies, and FAST ones are pretty frightening. Things that “invade” the body are the worst, I think. If we were aware of the microscopic world we’d all likely be terrified of bacteria!

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  2. I have to say that just about any insect crawling or flying my way can give me the willies. But, this past week I saw a sea creature in a nature program that almost defies descripition: a lamprey whose mouth is ringed with teeth and whose tongue also has teeth on it. Ugh.

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    • Thank you. Yes, it’s all very well me rescuing a spider out of the bath and putting the little darling back into the garden…but a tarantula or black widow in my bath would have me reach for the next best masher, smasher weapon!

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  3. Hi,
    Whenever I see I spider I kill it one way or the other. We have a lot of very poisonous spiders here, so not a lot of people take any chances. Even some of our tiniest spiders can cause a lot of harm.

    A great post and very informative as well, and I love the picture that you did, very good indeed. 🙂

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    • thanks very much! Yes, it must be scary to live somewhere with such dangerous spiders. I’ve just uploaded Willow’s second adventure on the sample chapter page by the way, in case you feel like having a little Saturday read about other bitey creatures of the night. No spiders – I promise!

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