8 Spider Myths You Probably Believe

Cracked has already talked about one myth about spiders and how many we eat during our lifetime. But there’s a lot more misinformation about these eight legged arachnids. If you hate spiders or are deathly afraid of them, wouldn’t you want the truth about them? Wouldn’t want to have the right facts, and hate them for what they actually do, and not what you THINK they do just because someone told you? Maybe not, but now you have to read it anyway.

[Parts of this article was used for an animal myth Cracked article over here, with over 1,150,000 views.]


1) Myth: When black widow spiders mate, the female always kills and eats the male.

211px-Black Widow 11-06This myth was started by observing black widows in captivity, where the poor males had nowhere to freekin’ go. But in the wild, the males can get away most of the time. And some species of black widow spiders NEVER kill their male baby daddy’s. So, although we all love to hate those lady killers, they’re not always just using the males for sex and then eating them, just sometimes.

2) Myth: Spiders can lay their eggs under human skin in wounds created by their bites, or in unwashed hair dos.

As for the numerous legends of hidden parasitic spider eggs, this is said to have begun around the time the beehive was a popular hairdo, and it later evolved into a myth that spiders lurk in dreadlocks. Let's make fun of the spider-haired freaks, everybody! They're filthy!

In reality, spider eggs are pretty delicate, take a long time to develop and need to be kept somewhere stable and safe. Some spiders carry their young on their backs, some carry them around in their mouths and others hang them in their webs in special little bags. They don't have any kind of appendage to insert eggs into hair, skin, other bugs, mouths, eyeballs or wherever the hell else you've been told by Internet horror stories. They leave all that shit to wasps.

3) Camel Spiders eat our soldiers in Afganistan, scream, and eat camel’s from the inside out.

camelspider smallIt’s bad enough that our soldiers are fighting a war in a dessert in hostile conditions. It’s another thing entirely if they are being freekin’ eaten by scary ass spiders!

The thing is, it’s all blown out of proportion. This is not to say that they aren’t creepy (just look at that thing!) or that they don’t bite (they have). But first of all, they’re not even spiders, and 2nd, the reason they’re called camel spiders is not that they live inside camel’s and lay their eggs in them or eat them from the inside out (gross!), but simply because they live in the desert. That’s it.

This all started with the photograph of one of our fine soldiers holding up a pair of camel “spiders”. (pictured right) Notice I said “pair”, there are actually two in the picture, not just one. Also, the perspective and juxtaposition to the soldier’s leg in the background creates the appearance that these things are huge. However, the soldier that is HOLDING them with his hand can be seen in the top right, so, one of them is smaller than his hand, two of them are a bit larger than one soldier’s hand.

Though, soldiers have been known to shoot them, we wouldn’t fault them on that, they are pretty creepy looking.

4) All Spiders are Venomous and harmful to humans.200px-Jumping Spider

Well, no. Um...that’s just not right. Although most spiders have venom sacks, the venom that spiders have is specific to their prey...you know, what they eat. So, their venom does not need to be all that potent, at least compared to what can harm humans. Most bites of most spiders don’t harm humans at all. Of the 50,000 spiders, only 1%, or 25 species can cause illness or harm to humans. Bees and Wasps, on the other hand, are MUCH more dangerous. In the United States, from 1999-2007, spiders caused 70 deaths, where bee or wasps caused 509 deaths in those years.

(Pictures right: a cute, harmless, tiny jumping )


5)  The Brown recluse, is everywhere and will kill you.

Brown recluse spiderThis one is a bit scary because we actually have brown recluse spiders in SOME areas of North America, and although a lot of people mistake other, more common spiders for them, they are not totally uncommon.

“Brown  recluse bites do cause skin necrosis, and if treated properly 90 percent heal without serious injury or skin damage.  Although deaths have occurred, they are extremely rare (1 every 5-10 years), and are typically children with prior kidney damage that are unable to fight off the toxin.  However, if the symptoms loxomapthumbof a recluse bite are diagnosed early, the kidney damage can be reversed with dialysis and hydration.“

Also...um...they’re NOT everywhere in the U.S. Check out this map of where they actually live:

6) Myth: Daddy Long Legs, the most poisonous spider, and you would die if they could bite you.

daddylonglegsThis one has been busted by Mythbusters in two different ways.
And I will be here, a full third way.

First, we need to nail down what the frick we’re talking about. The term “Daddy Long Legs” is used all over the country to refer to several different species. Where I’m from (Wisconsin and Minnesota), Daddy Long Legs refers to the species Opiliones, other wise known as Harvest Men. These are arachnids, but NOT spiders because their body and head are one oval shape, don’t weave webs, and don’t have venom sacs! BUSTED.

However, what about the other things called Daddy Long Legs? They’re probably evil killing machines if they could bite is right?

Mythbusters covered this as well, first measuring the toxicity of the true spiders with the nickname Daddy Long Legs and determined it wasn’t enough to kill a human. They went even further: “A microscopic measurement of the long-legged spider's fangs proved their miniscule quarter-millimeter length could puncture human skin, taking a double bite out of the daddy longlegs myth.”

But they didn’t stop there. If you’ve seen the episode, you may remember Adam sticking his arm in a box full of spiders that have had the nickname of Daddy Long Legs...and let them bite him. And either they replaced him with an exact, evil robot replica of Adam to continue the show, or he’s still filming the show and totally fine.

(though, I wouldn’t put it past Jamie to come up with an ingenious way to make a fake Adam)


7) You are never more than three feet from a spider.

200px-DirkvdM Nephila clavipesSpiders are so common that you're literally within three feet of one, right now. They're everywhere -- millions of them -- just waiting to jump out and horrify you with their too-many-eyes, or worse, lay their eggs inside your skin like some kind of goddamned alien. Or did you hear about the time where that one lady ordered a cactus and it exploded with baby tarantulas? Or maybe it was some bananas. Hell, maybe it was both. Spiders are fucking everywhere, that's the point.

The "never more than three feet away" thing seems to have originated in 1995 when arachnologist Norman Platnick began an article with "Wherever you sit as you read these lines, a spider is probably no more than a few yards away." Which is technically true, especially if you keep in mind the "probably" modifier. But, as the years went by, the line was repeatedly misquoted by other articles, evolving into "Scientists estimate you're never more than three feet from a spider." Even Platnick misquoted himself in a CNN interview, saying that "You're probably within seven or eight feet of a spider, no matter where you are."

If you're standing in a lush grass lawn, then yeah, there might be tiny, harmless spiders right under your feet or as close as a few centimeters. If you're in parking lot, on the other hand, the closest spider could be as far as 100 feet. If you're in a jet over the ocean, the closest spider might be a ballooner getting sucked into the engines. So you probably do pass by a lot of spiders without ever even knowing it, but there's no scientific claim or study that ever said you were always within a certain distance of one.


8) Myth: Tarantulas are dangerous in any way

240px-Brachypelma smithi 0001 L.D“The great thing about this question is that I am often asked this while I have a tarantula crawling on my hand. Now, I like some excitement in my life, but putting myself at risk is not my idea of fun. If tarantulas were dangerous, I would definitely not be impressing anyone by holding one.”

Tarantulas get a bad wrap ‘cus they’re big and hairy (we generally don’t like things that are big and harry anyway). Hollywood movies use tarantulas all the freekin’ time to scare people. Why? Because they show up good on film and...because they’re NOT dangerous. Think about it, you got your A list actor on screen with a big ass spider right next to them. Why would you put a spider that, if they did actually bite your actor, they could actually die? Fuck no.

Tarantulas are no more dangerous than any other spiders and when compared to Black Widows or the Brown recluse, its quite tame. In fact, they’re pretty docile and calm as pets. I’ve actually held one in my hand, petted it on its furry abdomen, and played with it. She (wasn’t ever really sure of its gender) was just fine letting me hold her in my hand and letting her walk between my two hands.

IF you do get bitten by one, which is rare, it’ll hurt, but mostly because of the size of their fangs, not because of the toxicity of their venom. So...get a pet tarantula and feed it some bugs!

There are, however, a few species that can be harmful to humans.

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