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Top Ten Myths About Spiders

One of the most common fears among humans is the fear of spiders. The reasons behind the fear varies far and wide. Some people are afraid of them because they think they are dangerous, others don’t like them because they think they are gross, and some because of the way they look. Just like anything we fear in life, as a result, myths have been created about spiders and passed down over centuries. Here are the top ten most common myths and misconceptions about spiders:

10

Spiders are insects.

Although not everyone thinks this, and quite a few people know better thanks to better education and access to information these days, spiders are not insects. Although both very small, spiders are arachnids, not insects. The two groups are actually extremely different biologically.

9

Removing a spider from your house is better than killing it.

To be honest, most of the species of spiders you find in your house live in the house because they cannot survive outside. Gently relocating the spider outside does it no favors. Most typical spiders you find in the house are completely harmless and can’t do anything to hurt you. With that said, it is best for the spider just to leave it alone. If you absolutely cannot live with the fact of having a spider in your house, it is best to simply put it out of its misery and kill it rather than moving it outside and giving it a prolonged death.

8

Black widows females kill the males after mating.

This myth isn’t entirely untrue, but it is greatly exaggerated and taken without context. Black widow females will sometimes attempt to eat their mates if they are hungry, but this is not always the case. The male spiders of this species are less than one quarter of the size of the females so escape can be difficult when the female is set on consuming their partner. Additionally there are many different types of black widows and only a select few even perform this practice. This one is thanks to pop culture and the attribution of the term black widow to evil women.

7

All spiders make webs.

Webs are created by spiders to catch prey. Only about half of the species of spiders in the world catch their prey using webs. Many other species actively hunt their prey or sit around and wait for their prey to come to them. Other species can shoot their webs at prey to trap them.

6

Tarantulas are extremely dangerous or deadly to humans.

This myth has been propagated by Hollywood over the years. It probably has to due with the fact they are large, hairy, and frankly are somewhat scary looking. In reality, the venom of tarantulas is considered to have a very low toxicity to humans. They can certainly bite you, but in all honestly the pain from the bite has been compared to that of a bee sting.

5

You are never more than a yard from a spider.

This particular myth originates from a statement famous archaeologist Norman Patrick made in an article in 1995 where he said, “Where you sit as you read these lines, a spider is probably no more than a few yards away.” Various news stations and other media reported it as fact and  without context. Sure if you are laying in a grassy field, there may be hundreds of small harmless spiders around you, but in a cement parking lot or in your house, this is not true whatsoever.

4

A deadly spider has been found living under toilet seats in airports and airplanes.

This myth originated as an email hoax back in the mid 90′s, but has been found recirculating recently on Facebook. Nothing about the story is true. The species of spider referred to in the story doesn’t exist, there was never a confirmed case of a deadly spider bite from sitting on a toilet, and no investigation as a result of the non-existent event.

3

Spiders can lay their eggs under human skin.

Unfortunately for spiders, but fortunately for us, the human body does not make an ideal site for a spider to lay its eggs. There are no documented cases found in scientific or medical literature referring to a case where an individual had spider eggs under their skin. For the most part spiders chose to lay their eggs in quiet hidden areas to give their young the greatest chance of survival.

2

The daddy longlegs has the world’s most powerful venom, but its fangs are too small and can’t bite humans.

This is nothing more than an urban-legend. Several common species are often grouped together to be called daddy longlegs. These include harvestmen, which do not have any venom at all and technically are not spiders, crane flies, which also don’t have any venom, and pholcid spiders, which have extremely weak venom.

1

On average a person will swallow eight spiders per year while they are sleeping.

This myth has been traced back to an email from a woman who started sending out emails warning people that if they weren’t careful they would swallow spiders while they were sleeping. She claims she did so because people were too gullible and willing to believe anything they read online as fact. In reality, it would be extremely rare if you swallowed a spider. They wouldn’t particularly want to be in or around your mouth.

 

Featured Image: Flickr by cybershotking