Alongside snakes, nothing strikes more fear into the heart of man besides the infamous spider (although we have more reason to fear bed bugs). As such, spiders have been the subject of many myths and urban legends. Here are some tall tales you may have, or may not have heard.
The Black Widow
The Wolf Spider in attack/defense mode!
Our first subject is the Huntsman spider, a large and fast creature often playing on the fears of many arachnophobic people. They have become the subject of many exaggerated myths and superstition. In an attempt to explain why monkeys open a banana at the wrong end the myth was created claiming that the Huntsman would lay it’s eggs in banana flower blossoms, resulting in the spiders hatching and waiting in the tip of the banana, waiting to terrorize an unsuspecting and most unfortunate victim consumer. Another example originated from an internet message board around 2002. Pictures of a Huntsman spider ominously hanging on a wall the size of a “clock” were posted, it became known as the clock spider. The discussion on the message board lasted several months.
One of the more popular modern myths about spiders would be one that I remember hearing about when I was a young boy. The myth entails that the daddy long leg is in fact very venomous and deadly, but cannot inject it’s venom into humans because of the short length of it’s fangs. Still another modern myth tells the tale of a most unfortunate woman who found out that her beehive hairdo was infested with black widow spiders.
The golden silk orb-weaver AKA banana spider is a common site in the summer of central Florida.
Another popular, more well known myth that I clearly remember hearing about several times growing up, and one that was retold with the details slightly varying, would be the legend that emerged from Europe in the 1970’s about a woman on vacation was sunbathing and was bitten on the cheek by a spider. After going to her doctor to seek medical treatment for the swelling the doctor opened the festering wound, and both to mush their horror found hundreds of baby spiders pouring out. Don’t believe this one and consider it to be debunked.
How many times have you received email hoaxes? Indeed the internet and social media have become a breeding grown for such stories and modern urban legends. A clever email hoax told about the attacks by the South American Blush spider in public restrooms. The alleged spider’s scientific name is Arachnius gluteus, where “gluteus” is supposed to mean “buttocks” (since there are muscles in the buttocks called gluteus maximus), and “arachnius” is a made-up word intended to mean “spider”. There is also an updated version of the hoax using the name for the spiders species, with the rest of the text left unaltered.
Unfortunately, Spider bites are no myth.
While being the subject of several myths and urban legends and playing on man’s fears, it is important to remember that they are indeed useful to man, and serve a vital role in our ecosystem. They feed on many of the insects that we consider pests, greatly reducing their numbers. However, if you suffer from arachnophobia you are not alone. While it wouldn’t be good for our ecosystem to completely wipe them off the face of the earth, there are steps you can take as a homeowner which can help reduce the frequency that you have to encounter them, such as reducing their food source in and around the house. Also, by trimming back tress and bushes and keeping them away from touching the structure, and off the roof. Sealing the cracks and crevices that serve as entry points can also be beneficial. As mentioned, while beneficial to the ecosystem, still, I don’t think we’ll every see eye to eye with these creature, especially when we have two eyes, and most spiders have eight.