Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

October 12, 2012

It takes all kinds

By Rebecca Todd

— Do you like spiders? Would you sacrifice $15 million just to save one?

I don't know about you, but my natural instinct upon spotting any member of the arachnid family is "kill." A kind of disquieting mania comes over me. The adrenaline starts to rush through my body and I begin grabbing every thing I can find and flinging it at the beast while uttering a kind of guttural growl of disgust and detestation as I track it and beat it to a pulp.

It doesn't matter if I'm decked out and late for a meeting. I will crawl through any grime, including the mystery muck that makes up my garage floor, and spend as much time as it takes to make sure the spider is destroyed.

So I'm going to have to go with "no," I would not sacrifice $15 million.

But believe it or not, some people would. It takes all kinds. Some kinds of spiders apparently are worth more than others.

Workers in Texas recently found a Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver spider in the middle of a $15 million highway construction project in northwestern San Antonio. Pretty impressive, isn't it? Just imagine how excited the construction workers were. "Hey, ya'll! Looka he-ah," they shouted in fine, Texas accents. "This he-ah is one of them there Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver spiders!"

No, that's not how it happened. Actually, what happened was, there were biologists from the Texas Department of Transportation's environmental affairs division working along side the construction crews, because that particular area in San Antonio is "known for its abundance of natural resources, including songbirds and rare cave animals, like the spiders."

Seriously; I'm not making that up. That is an actual quote from an actual news story. Songbirds and spiders are natural resources. Who knew? So the project was halted despite the $15 million price tag.

The Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver spider, so it seems, is on the endangered species list and hasn't been spotted for nearly three decades. That means proceeding with the project is out of the question. Those construction workers must be really happy that, despite the fact that they are now out of work, that particular species of spider, one of the "special kinds," will continue.

So the spiders are safe - except for the one that they dissected to make sure it was indeed a Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver spider. That's right, they found what they thought was a rare spider that they wanted to save, so they killed it and dissected it.

Biologists are a rare breed. In fact, I think there should be a biologist sanctuary where we study them, dissect them, and try to figure out why they do the things that they do. Like why is it so important to save a spider from extinction?

Sure, it's so sad that various species are becoming extinct, but frankly I'm just glad that these people were not around when the dinosaurs were alive because it would be a pain in the backside to have to dodge a pack of brontosauruses on the way to work. And really, who knows if these spiders might someday evolve into giant, man-eating freaks ala some John Carpenter horror film?

I'd rather not take any chances. Thus I will continue to kill every spider that crosses my path. I will not stop to interview the spider and see if he is on any kind of list. I will just beat him to a pulp per my natural instincts.

I'm just that kind.

- Rebecca Todd is a freelance writer and the author of the book "What's the Point?" available at booklocker.com. Contact her at btodd@tds.net.