MYTHBUSTER: FIVE POP­U­LAR BUT IN­COR­RECT ‘ FACTS’ ABOUT SPI­DERS

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - House Spiders -

SPI­DERS COME UP THROUGH THE PLUG­HOLE

We do of­ten find spi­ders in our baths, but they’re not ar­riv­ing through the plumb­ing. Most are males that have fallen in the bath dur­ing their ro­man­tic wan­der­ings and are un­able to get out. Some peo­ple like to put a towel or a rib­bon of toi­let pa­per over the edge to act as a ‘spi­der lad­der’ for those that be­come trapped.

SPI­DERS NEST IN OUR AT­TICS

A com­mon fear among arachno­phobes is that there are ‘colonies’ of spi­ders mak­ing nests in our at­tics. This sim­ply isn’t true. There are some so­cial spi­ders that live in large com­mu­nal webs, but th­ese species do not oc­cur in the UK.

FALSE WID­OWS ARE DAN­GER­OUS

The me­dia has fu­elled fear of the noble false widow spi­der, Steatoda no­bilis, through sen­sa­tion­al­ist (and mostly un­proven) sto­ries of spi­der bites. The false widow was first recorded in the UK in 1879, so has been around for quite a while with­out at­tract­ing un­due at­ten­tion. It’s one of the very few species in the UK that can give us a nip, but such bites are ex­cep­tion­ally rare. The fact is, the lurid pho­tos of swollen legs are usu­ally a con­se­quence of poor wound care and re­sult­ing bac­te­rial in­fec­tion.

WE SWAL­LOW SPI­DERS IN OUR SLEEP

Have you, or any­one you’ve ever known, wo­ken up with a spi­der in your mouth? This is a pop­u­lar ur­ban myth, ap­par­ently “sup­ported by ev­i­dence”, but spi­ders do not like to hang out in the mouths of preda­tors, and we huge hu­mans are most cer­tainly their idea of a preda­tor.

EIGHT LEGS MEANS ‘SPI­DER’

Spi­ders are only one of a num­ber of groups of eight-legged an­i­mals in the class Arach­nida. From scor­pi­ons to whip scor­pi­ons and ticks to har­vest­men, the arach­nids are a fas­ci­nat­ing and di­verse group found through­out the world, oc­cu­py­ing many eco­log­i­cal niches.

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