I swear, sometimes I feel the “Spider Sunday” feature on my blog is a completely useless exercise. There are so many recurring hoaxes and urban legends about spiders that raise their ugly heads again and again and again,…now spread even faster through social media! Thank you so much, Facebook. Please feel free to share this post the next time you see an idiotic spider hoax surface. Here is my list of the worst of them, in no particular order.
Lethal spider species lurks under toilet seats. What anyone would have against the lovely and completely harmless Two-striped Jumping Spider Telamonia dimidiata is beyond me, but it is the chosen villain in a sinister campaign to scare everyone off of toilet seats in airports around the world. The original version blamed the non-existent Arachnius gluteus spider. The name alone should have tipped people off as to the authenticity of the reports (and made wise people smile and chuckle).
Daddy long-legs are the most venomous spiders, but they can’t bite people. First of all, “daddy long-legs” are not even spiders. They are arachnids, but in the order Opiliones and more properly called “harvestmen.” They are not venomous at all, and are mostly scavengers and opportunistic predators on weakened insects.
The average human swallows “x” number of spiders per year in their sleep. This is complete bunk (but I did once wake up with a dead German Cockroach in my mouth).
Somebody’s houseplant cactus explodes, liberating baby tarantulas. Really? Tarantula mothers don’t stick their eggs in cacti. They carefully wrap them up in a silken sac and guard them tenaciously at the bottom of their burrows. Once the eggs hatch, the female continues to guard them until their next molt, at which time they disperse.
The “Hobo Spider” is dangerously venomous. This is false, but also an enduring mystery. Tegenaria agrestis is native to Europe where it is most certainly harmless. Individual spiders from populations introduced in the U.S. have been implicated in necrotic wounds. One plausible theory is that victims of spider bites (or other puncture wounds wrongly attributed to spiders) have developed secondary bacterial infections. Stay tuned for further developments.
The above are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, of course. A more complete listing can be found on Rod Crawford’s Spider Myths Page. When in doubt yourself, you can also consult Snopes.com, or one of the other websites cited in this article from TechRepublic.com.
Thank you for your attention, we now end this rant and return you to your regularly-scheduled programming of truth, fascination, and beauty.