I sort of believed her because this particular co-worker seems down-to-earth and practical...but it still sounded fishy so I researched it online. I found a spider-themed website written by the "Curator of Arachnids" at the Burke Museum. (Nice work if you can get it!) Naturally her story turned out to be wholly false.
Here's an excerpt. I especially love the foot-long "camel spider" in Iraq who runs at 25 miles an hour, screaming like a banshee. Ha ha! Yeah, you gotta watch out for those:
Myths, Misconceptions, and Superstitions About Spiders
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 I?
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.
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 bite wounds.
- Certain fruits or nuts can be used to repel spiders.
- Jumping tarantulas, ten-legged spiders, poisonous spider urine, and more!