Spiders are easily one of the most hated subgroups of animals. However, there are a lot of myths out there that make them seem scarier than they really are. We’re going to take a look at some of those myths in this article to perhaps calm some nerves.
Spiders also happen to be one of the most diverse groups of animals out there, from the Daddy Long-legs to Orb weavers. Luckily, the large majority of spiders are completely harmless and don’t harm people.
We’ll take a look at spiders as a diverse group in this article. However, because spiders are so varied, not all of these myths may apply to every spider.
The Top 7 Spider Myths and Misconceptions
1. Spiders are Aggressive
Many people mistakenly think that spiders are aggressive. While spiders are obviously not eating people, it isn’t odd to find claims that spiders are territorial or otherwise more than willing to chase us down.
In reality, spiders are extremely shy. They prefer dark places where they can stay hidden. Even the most dangerous spiders aren’t all that aggressive. Brown recluse spiders are most commonly found in out-of-the-way places, such as an old, forgotten pair of shoes. (University of Kentucky)
In fact, most spiders don’t interact with people all that much. If a spider plays their cards right, they may even go their whole lifespan without interacting with a single person.
Most spider bites occur when the spider is threatened. For instance, if you pick a spider up, it will often bite. Many spider bites occur at night in our bed when we probably don’t even know there’s a spider there!
Jumping spiders are sometimes mistakenly thought of as aggressive. However, in reality, their eyesight is just extremely bad, and their first line of defense is their awesome jump. If they are frightened, they may end up jumping towards us. However, they’re likely just trying to get away, not acting aggressively.
2. Spiders are Dangerous
For one reason or another, many people believe that spiders are dangerous. However, this is not the case at all. While there are a few species that are venomous and potentially dangerous, most are absolutely harmless.
Even those that are venomous aren’t terribly dangerous.
Let’s take the Black Widow, for instance. Many people assume that a bite from this spider will absolutely kill you unless you rush to a hospital. However, this is not typically the case. Black widow bites are usually only dangerous for the very young and very old—or for those that are already sickly. (Live Science)
Therefore, you don’t really need to worry about most spiders unless you have a very small child. Even then, spider bites that turn deadly are quite rare.
3. Orb Weavers are Dangerous
We will admit, orb weavers can seem a bit dangerous and scary. However, that doesn’t mean that they actually are dangerous. The large majority of orb weavers are completely harmless, despite the fact that they are very large.
In fact, once you get a bit comfortable with these spiders, it is easy to consider just how beautiful they are. With their striking color patterns and unusual shapes, these spiders are easily some of the most interesting.
Plus, they are completely harmless. They are shy and timid like most spiders. Their large size makes it hard for them to hide, which may be why you see them more often than other spiders.
4. The Spider in Your House is Dangerous
The average person is quite bad at spider identification. While there are quite a few spiders that can be dangerous in some situations, these are quite rare in comparison to the huge number of spiders that aren’t dangerous at all. (Oklahoma State)
Plus, even for venomous spiders, their bites are usually less harmful than a bee sting.
Many people are quite bad at spider identification. It isn’t odd for normal house spiders to be mistakenly identified as some dangerous, venomous spider. Many spiders do look alike to the untrained eye, which is one reason their misidentification is common.
However, if you take your time to identify the traits that set safe spiders apart from unsafe spiders, you should be able to identify spiders pretty easily. (And you’ll probably learn a thing or two to help you stay safe—like how most black widows do not have a red hourglass on their stomach.)
Odds are, the next spider you find in your house is likely not dangerous at all.
5. Spiders Catch Their Prey in Webs
The stereotypical spider does catch their prey in webs. Usually, they build their web somewhere that bugs frequent. Then, the bugs will fly into their web at night and they’re getting a tasty snack. However, this is not the case for all (or even most) spiders.
Instead of using their web to catch prey, many spiders actively hunt for bugs. If you find a spider running around that is not by its web, then this is probably the case. Some other types of spiders make holes to hide in, and then jump out and catch their prey as they are walking by.
In fact, spiders have a wide range of talents when it comes to catching their prey. You’d be surprised by the number of tactics spiders will use to get a meal.
6. You Swallow Spiders When You Sleep
Over the last few years, one of the most popular statistics about spiders has been based around the number that you supposedly swallow in your sleep. While the exact number does differ depending on who you ask, it is usually something quite shocking (which is the point).
However, this statistic is largely false. In most cases, you probably swallow no spiders at all. If a spider encounters you while you’re sleeping, it’s probably just going to turn around and walk the other way. While some spiders do burrow, they are not stupid enough to think that our mouths are burrows. They may not have a huge brain, but if they were that dull, they would have all died out by now!
Based on this information, you don’t have to worry about spiders accidentally crawling into your mouth. You can sleep peacefully!
7. You Should Kill Spiders You Find
Sadly, many people automatically kill any spiders that they find. However, most spiders are extremely essential for the ecosystem. They can dispatch many bugs every day, which is good for us and the environments we live in.
Without spiders, we would have many more bugs living around us. These bugs can destroy crops and damage trees. There is a reason that spiders are needed to keep them in check.
One spider may not seem like a lot, but you should consider the number of bugs it may eat in its lifespan, as well as the children that bugs might have produced. When you look at it this way, it’s easy to see that one spider actually means quite a lot to the ecosystem.
Spiders are sadly one of the species that are looked down on the most. However, this perspective is largely caused by the myths that surround spiders. By educating yourself, you can begin to see spiders for what they are, instead of seeing them as some scary thing that lurks in the dark!
The first step to getting over any fears is to educate yourself.
Featured Image Credit: Vinicius R. Souza, Shutterstock