Spider Myths: Factor or Scare Factor?
Updated: Aug 24
They creep and crawl around, hide in dark corners and invoke physical shudders from some. Their eight long legs and furry black bodies have long been used and identified in horror stories and nightmarish plot-lines, igniting a sense of fear in us whenever one silently stalks into the room. Fuelled by terrifying claims online, spiders have recently received a pretty bad rap. But how many of these claims are fact verses how many are designed to feed the scare factor of these creepy crawlies?
Time to set some stories straight! Ever heard the tale of how we swallow around eight spiders whilst we sleep? What about the one where squishing a spider means it’ll rain tomorrow? How many of you constantly worry over the fact that we are supposedly never more than just 3 feet away from one of these creepy crawlies? We’ve all heard the stories, but how much truth to them is there really…
Myth 1: We swallow on average eight spiders a year while we sleep.
Now this myth has to be one of the most disturbing… It’s a horrible thought to believe that in our most peaceful and vulnerable state, spiders are potentially moving to somewhere they are most certainly not wanted. But is it fact or fiction? Biology experts and arachnologists alike agree that this one belongs firmly in the fiction basket. Whilst horror films and fear factors depict spiders happily trailing over faces, limbs and nightstands, in reality spiders fear us far more than we fear them. While some experts believe that to spiders we are so big they simply regard us as part of the landscape, others acknowledge the fact that vibrations make up a huge part of a spiders sensory universe; and such vibrations are taken on-board to access and process danger responses. So when it comes down to it, a giant breathing creature with a heartbeat who is thumping out vibration after vibration (without even mentioning any snoring potential), is going to do far more to make a spider run for the hills then want to come closer and investigate – let alone crawl into that creature’s mouth.
So where did this myth come from? This tale is so now ingrained in popular culture that it has circulated the web and been regarded as fact for years. Ironically however, this story began as a way to demonstrate how people will so readily believe anything they now see and read online. The author of the article created what they thought to be an outlandish “fact” to use as a supporting point in their piece, only to have their creepy crawly fiction promoted to the world as the truth. So now, sleep peacefully with the knowledge that the likelihood of such an event occurring is in fact minimal to zilch – and if such a thing did happen, then it would be a very odd occurrence indeed, not a commonplace encounter.
Myth 2: If you kill a spider it will rain.
Superstition can be a powerful thing. Commonplace in society today, they tap into our desires and our fears, following us around as we throw pinches of salt over our shoulders, avoid crossing paths with black cats or freak out over umbrellas being opened indoors. One superstition with a twist: killing a spider will make it rain. Now the last thing many of us want is to release these creepy crawlies back out into the wild, but supposedly this superstition is built on the belief that spiders bring good luck, and as such squishing one will result in a negative, undesirable consequence. But, just like the myth above, this one doesn’t hold much truth either and remains firmly in the superstition basket. In an effort to make us confront our fears, superstitions encourage us to turn an unpleasant experience into one more positive. However, regardless of your reaction in eliminating or releasing, there is no real magic power in this superstition. Killing a spider or leaving it be will not affect the weather patterns today or tomorrow, and whether you find good or bad luck from this is entirely up to you.
Myth 3: You are never more than 3 feet from a spider.
This myth falls straight down the middle of the fact and fiction line. While many of us don’t necessarily like to think about the fact that there could be a spider lurking just around the corner, depending on the surrounding environment our reality could be really quite different. This myth is entirely situational. Depending on where you are can directly influence the life and creatures surrounding you. For instance, if you are standing in a lush green field the chances of a spider or two being within a foot of you is quite high. Compare this with a concrete parking lot, in which case it could be 20m, 50m or even 100m before a woven web is found. In most instances, we on average probably are never too far away from our creepy crawly friends, but keep in mind that this doesn’t mean they are hiding under your bed or at the back of your cupboard – they may be happily chowing down on other insects and bugs in your garden or out there doing their part for the ecosystem.
If the thought of spiders is still making your skin crawl, feel free to take our free online arachnophobia test to discover how severe your phobia is.