The spookiest month is here: white sheets hang from trees, skeleton bones abound and fake spider webs with giant spiders are strewn across bushes, trees and doorways.
Spiders are copious year-round though, producing screams that Halloween capitalizes on.
If you read the Daily Beacon's lead story last Friday, you know that spiders are showing more prevalence in Knoxville this season due to the extra insect grub resulting from abundant rainfall.
I began noticing this increase when a spider made himself at home in a corner of my room. My instinct was to kill him, and I almost did. Almost.
But he was little and he didn't want to kill me in my sleep, or bite me, or have anything to do with me, really.
I decided he would be my inspiration to re-string my negative view on spiders.
Despite popular belief, spiders are not insects but arachnids with more than 40,000 different species, ranking them seventh in organism diversity according to Spiders of India.
Webs, the artistically-crafted death traps spiders create, provide an ingenious, energy-efficient home. Patterns of webs are believed to be innate in spiders, uniquely defining them into different species.
These masterpieces derive from spinneret glands in their abdomen, producing silk stronger than steel and more flexibility.
This silk catches prey, but can also be used to create underwater breathing bubbles, wrap eggs and hold sperm; younger spiders sometimes release a tiny thread and then ride the wind like dandelions.
Hunter Soltes, an undergraduate research assistant at UT, works with spiders in the lab. He thinks one of the coolest things about spiders is how unique all spiders are.
While testing their aggressiveness, Hunter said that some spiders would kill up to 30 crickets, but not eat one. Another spider, of the same species, would just kill one and eat it.
More diversity occurred when Hunter put male and female spiders together in attempts to watch procreation.
If things went well, the male spider would strike with a paralyzing potion, knocking the female out, before wrapping his sperm in his web and depositing it into her reproductive organ.
Things typically didn't go as well though, with most of the females finding their male suitor inept and murdering him, sometimes devouring him.
Female spiders are typically larger than male spiders and this type of spider abuse is normative. Females don't always kill or eat their children's fathers, except in the case of the black widow – hence the name.
It is no wonder then, the ways in which spiders have been used symbolically through out time and culture.
To read about a spider in literature, or see one in your dream, allegorically represents a remarkable feminine figure or energy. They also have been called weavers of their own destiny, and are represented in highly creative scenarios. They typically take the form of patient or malice characters.
Greek mythology explains the origin of spiders as deriving from Arachne challenging the Goddess Athena to a weaving contest, thinking she had become greater than the gods. Although her rug was immaculate, Arachne imbedded morally corrupt material within her stitches. The story ends with Athena making Arachne a spider forever.
In Buddhism, Indra, a Hindu deity, has a spider net, which is used as a metaphor for the Buddhist concept of interpenetration, which holds that all phenomena are intimately connected.
In the children's book "Charlotte's Web," Charlotte writes in her web to save Wilbur, the pig, from impending doom, exuding creativity and re-weaving the destiny of two characters.
As Halloween approaches and you begin to see more plastic spiders, as well as the real ones, attempt to find their lives commendable and impressive, acknowledging their long cultural history. Maybe even take the spotting of a spider as an omen to create your own destiny or harness creativity.
Julie Mrozinski is a junior in English. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.