Highly suggest reading these topics for context and inspiration:
I’ve shared a few times on this forum that I have an irrational (phobic) fear of spiders. Over the last year or so I’ve been so enthused by and indiscriminate in my use of iNat’s app that not only am I finding tons of spiders and documenting them but I’m doing something totally new…I’m seeking them out and enjoying some of them. This got me thinking, “If I am finding myself confronting life-long fears and cooing sweetly to tiny Salticidae then there’s hope for us all!”
In that vein, I thought I would share the spider that truly and finally won me over and inquire about your experiences: Talavera minuta (Mine!)
The combination of sheer tiny adorable fierceness, the tiny feather duster palps on the male, the tiny everything…it’s too much, even for me, to resist. I think for me (and many others) tiny things are always more dear and easier to not feel threatened by. I’ve collected miniatures and advocated for justice my entire life so I’m especially keen on the oft-overlooked tiny organisms among us. Because of my phobic reactions up until a few years ago, I would have recoiled and avoided even these guys.
Another reason tiny jumpy won me over was that my first observation led me to the taxon page once the wonderful and encouraging @bothrops07 made the ID and I realized there were only 7 previous sightings on iNat and none prior to my own in the state of NY or the northeast of the U.S. This did two things: ignite my competitive impulses and bring me a sense of privilege and responsibility. I really felt like my tendency to notice everything around me which is frequently exhausting around humans, had a real purpose in my nature observations. Not so much about ego here, more that I could really offer something if I just keep my eyes open and keep sharing what I see. To me, that is profound and practical and wonderful and so many other things. This week, I found a potential tiny jumpy lady-friend and I decided to bring this conversation going on in my head over here to you all today. Specifically, right after laughing upon seeing that I am now in the list of the top identifiers for this species because I correctly IDed my second observation and there are still only 7 other observations other than my own.
I’m still afraid and have an as of yet uncontrollable visceral reaction to many spiders and the house centipede. Things others are afraid of I would like to kiss on the nose (don’t worry, I will not) like snakes, mantids, bats, blackbirds, other stuff. Go figure.
Shoutouts to all the iNatters who (possibly unknowingly) were major contributors to my behavioral and emotional shifts with the spideys: @bothrops07, @JeremyHussell, bobbyfingers, @tigerbb, redpandakitty and I’m sure I’ve missed a few…Thank you all!
So without any more rambling topic context, I want to know about your experiences with your “gateway” species encounters, changes in your own behavior because of changes in your perception of organisms or the confrontation of a fear, aversion or phobia, and anything else on this topic that you think might be a good contribution.
Go look for tiny and/or scary things! You might come to love it :)