"I honestly believe it is better to know nothing than to know what ain't so."
- Josh Billings, 1818-1885 (in "Solemn Thoughts")
that 'everybody knows' about spiders...is wrong!"
- Rod Crawford
Myths, Misconceptions, and Superstitions About Spiders
Crawford, Curator of Arachnids, Burke
As the only spider specialist in a large metropolitan area, I get many
spider inquiries from the general public. Since I'm mentioned
on the Internet as a spider specialist, some of the public inquiries
come from distant places. When I lecture on spiders, adult and
child audiences always have questions
and comments. So do casual acquaintances when they learn that
I work with spiders.
These people's concerns come from a widespread and surprisingly
uniform set of assumptions and "general knowledge" about spiders.
And almost all of this widespread information about
spiders is false!
I don't really expect that this document, by itself, will make much headway
against the flood of spider misinformation. However, I hope that those
curious about spiders who find their way here will absorb enough information to ask
me some new questions instead of the same old ones. I can hope, can't
To suggest improvements or additions to this document,
or learn about information sources, contact the author, .
But if you hope to show that any of the following myths is actually true,
please be prepared with verifiable evidence including actual specimens …
Opinions expressed here are not necessarily endorsed by the Burke Museum
or the University of Washington, but are entirely my own, founded on 39
years experience working with spiders and misinformed humans. Note also
that I use "myth" here as a convenient catchall term for any
kind of widely believed misinformation about spiders.
Notice to international readers:
The myths dealt with in this document are mainly North American. Some
of the spider myths of other continents may differ. Older myths and legends
not widely believed by present-day people are omitted: examples would be the
Greek myth of Arachne or the West African stories of Anansi.
Myths are listed below by category.
Every one of the statements below is false!
Click each one to find out why.
Myths about Identifying Spiders
House Spider Myths
Just Plain Weird Stories
- The daddy-longlegs has the world's
worst venom, but it can't bite you.
- Near East "camel spiders"
anaesthetize sleeping humans and eat their flesh.
- "Camel spiders" in Iraq
are a foot long, lay eggs under camels' skin, & run 25 miles/hour
screaming like a banshee.
- A potted cactus in someone's home exploded
and scattered baby tarantulas!
- A deadly, exotic spider lurks under
airport and airplane toilet seats.
- A gigantic, rare, endangered and (of
course) deadly spider lives in tunnels under Windsor Castle.
- Spiders can hold their breaths to avoid inhaling pesticides.
- You swallow an average of four
live spiders in your sleep each year.
- Spiders drink moisture from
the mouths or lips of sleeping humans.
- When black widow spiders mate, the
female always kills and eats the male.
- Spider eggs may turn up in
human hairstyles or in bubble gum.
- There could be spider eggs inside the tip of that banana.
- Baby spiders can hatch out of spider
- Certain fruits or nuts can
be used to repel spiders.
- Jumping tarantulas, ten-legged spiders,
poisonous spider urine, and more!
Myths about "Dangerous" Spiders
Let us repeat...
Every one of the above statements is false!
Click each one to find out why.