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Halloween ‘goblins’

Garden spiders, with their large, striking yellow body and a web that may be two feet or more in diameter, frequently instill unwarranted fear in people. They are harmless outdoor spiders that are considered beneficial. Some females may be seen guarding eggs until the first frost.
TRR photos by Scott Rando

October 30, 2013

Halloween is associated with many things; today it’s mostly trick-or-treating or costume parties. If you go back in history, however, it can be observed that there was much more of a supernatural element in people’s beliefs. Many of these supernatural beliefs had to do with nature and natural events. A lot of superstition over various creatures got started in the Middle Ages, when we didn’t understand them or their interaction with the environment. In many cases when people didn’t understand animals or their adaptations back then, they were to be feared.

Bats, which became a permanent part of Halloween lore, are a good example of long-standing superstition. Bats were strange flying creatures that appeared only at night, and to people of the past, their random flight seemed somewhat aggressive. They had no idea of a bat’s echolocation use to forage for flying insects, and this beneficial adaptation helped fuel a lot of superstition, for example that bats were used by witches for magic brews, or they got tangled in people’s hair, etc.

Today, much observation and study have dispelled the myths of supernatural critters, but they still are traditionally celebrated as icons of Halloween. On the long list of unusual or “scary” critters many have strange or unusual adaptations that enable them to survive in the wild, and in some cases, to be beneficial as well.