Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spider Misinformation

One of my co-workers told me the other day that there are brown recluse spiders in Washington state and that they are extremely dangerous--that their bites "wither" your skin.

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

Rod Crawford, Curator of Arachnids, Burke Museum

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? green spider, Leucauge venusta

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

From: The Spider Myths Site at


  1. The itsy bitsy spider was last seen, holding his sides and laughing. Something about them drinking water from sleeping humans ... whoever thought of that did NOT consider morning breath ;-D

  2. Whoa ... ambiguity there? Last seen, the itsy bitsy spider held his sides and laughed hard.

    Better ;-D