I feel I’m involuntarily picking up a lot of cobwebs when exploring the forest lately, just wondering if I’m the only one bothered by that? The spiders themselves aren’t so bad - I feel they usually try to jump off before I run into their web, and else just sit in my hair for a bit then rappel down in front of my face (I do have a fear of spiders, but it’s gotten a lot better since starting with inaturalist, incidentally).
But I’m so grossed out by having all the sticky balls of dead insects all over my hair and skin and clothes. And it’s slowing me down a lot, instead of moving I’m stopping all the time and frantically brushing off and spitting out cobwebs… so lately my solution is to walk with a hand stretched out in front of my face at all times, or even picking up a stick and waving it in front of my head for hours However I have not seen anyone else do that, is everyone just ignoring the cobwebs? Or am I just too focused on the ground looking for small plants to see them in time?
A small walking stick is really nice for clearing spiders. Mine has a fork at the top (people think it’s a dowsing rod) for holding brambles out of the way as I pass by.
I carry a stick and gently wave it in front of me. Then I apologize to the spiders for ruining their beautiful work.
A stick works well. Or go with a tall friend and walk behind them…
If there are a lot of webs in the area I’ll take a slender stick, about a meter or a meter and a half long and about as big as my index finger in diameter and use that to gently clear webs out of the way. It’s also useful for pushing brambles and wet branches aside.
I think the presence of numerous spider webs indicates that you’re going to cool places that no one else goes to.
I second everyone else’s responses, grabbing a long but lightweight stick and waving it up and down does the trick.
The only places I encounter cobwebs are when I am caving, or when I go looking for butterflies through a thick grassy meadow. Recently, I ended up with 15 ticks all over me. I don’t really get bothered by webs, I’m usually trying to photograph the owner of the web! But, yes, a stick helps tremendously.
I do most of my photo foraging along established trails that go through forests and includes a lot of signs about staying on the trail. And that’s mostly to protect the more fragile, smaller native plants.
Did I miss something or is what you are describing a real potential problem for the same reasons (never mind the spiders)?
Yeah grab a stick, and on very hot days you can brush the tree trunks and maybe flush a Catocala moth or 10!
I sometimes go on evening runs in my neighborhood which is also when spiders like to build their webs. My approach is to run into the webs and panic a bit thinking Shelob is on me. However, reminding myself that most spiders are harmless to humans and even the venemous ones would only attack if provoked, helps.
I push through bushes with one elbow out in front of my face - I don’t mind getting the cobwebs on me, really, but I had a dreadful experience with a trashline orbweaver once (sadly, it was even worse for the orbweaver).
CONTENT WARNING: Arachnophobes may wish to skip this post!
If you’re not familiar with the species, this is what their webs look like - they fill them with bits of garbage and leaves and bark, then hide in the middle:
I was breathing really hard because I’d just climbed a very steep slope, and I went to duck under a branch at the same time as I took a really big breath… and fully inhaled the web, trash and spider included. I had a massive coughing fit and managed to hack most of it back out, but it was an extremely painful experience.
About 3 hours later, I was sitting in a coffee shop drowning my sorrows in hot chocolate when I had another massive coughing spasm and spat something into my napkin:
MULTIPLE DISMEMBERED SPIDER LEGS.
I was coughing up little bits of leaves and bark intermittently for the next couple days, and I’m honestly not sure my lungs have ever been the same since.
So, enjoy that nightmare fuel - and maybe wear a bandana over your face if you’re going someplace extremely spidery.
That could be the case, yeah - I seem to usually be the only one walking the trails I do. Guess it means I don’t need to be too worried about people seeing me waving around a stick in the first place. And thanks to all the replies here I feel less weird about it now!
Haha, can’t decide if I should laugh or forever have nightmares about something like that happening to me now. Maybe the bandana idea isn’t all that bad…
Assuming you’re talking about orb webs rather than cobwebs? I don’t know that I’ve ever walked into a cobweb. Maybe I’m wrong.
Like others said, just use a stick. And hold it in front of you. Spiders usually have an escape plan should their web be destroyed. (Don’t wack the webs with a lot of force or you might kill them or increase the chances of them being flinged to the ground.)
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! I’m pretty good about spiders but this is a nightmare, I’m glad you were able to cough it back up!
I didn’t even know there’s a difference - and I usually only see what remains after it has been destroyed, so who knows? But yeah, mostly it’s the big flat webs strung between trees and branches, usually right in the center of the trail (or even road, there seems to be no limit to the distance they can span…). Or when off trail I feel they are always right where there’s an opening that seems you can walk through there…
That sounds like a terrible experience. I feel bad for all parties involved.
That story is more terrifying than every ghost story I’ve ever heard combined. And I’m not even afraid of spiders.
(Though I’ve never heard a lot of ghost stories—not that type of person!)
Also, I’d recommend posting a clear discretionary warning so that more sensitive people know what they’re getting into. I’m already pretty traumatized already
Good point, haha. I’ve added a content warning line!
Be thankful you are not in Australia