Spiders are some of the most common creatures that we encounter and are often the most feared. However, many of our negative associations with spiders come from simple misconceptions. By understanding spiders and dispelling the generally accepted myths, we can possibly change some minds—or at least soothe some fears about these amazing arachnids.
10 Their Venom Is Less Deadly Than You Think
Black widow and brown recluse bites are sometimes thought of as a death sentence. The generally accepted story is that unless someone bitten by a black widow or brown recluse gets treatment, they will die. However, not only are the effects of the venom usually exaggerated, but those who supposedly die of spider venom often have some other condition entirely.[amazon asin=B00IP8PUR2&template=*lrc ad (right)]
Spider bites are often misidentified, with up to 80 percent of alleged brown recluse bites actually being irrelevant, misdiagnosed illnesses. Brown recluse bites can cover for far deadlier conditions like methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Brown recluse bites are even diagnosed in states and countries where the spider doesn’t live just because it’s a famous cause of necrosis.
Black widows also cause panic, but their venom is only lethal in 5 percent of cases when the victim receives no antivenom. Many who die are naturally weak, such as children and the elderly. With the development of antivenom, black widows now kill virtually no one.
The best thing to do following a strange reaction or possible bite is seek medical treatment without jumping to conclusions.
9 Not All Spiders Build Webs
[amazon asin=B001EEYC8W&template=*lrc ad (left)]All spiders produce silk, but the material has uses besides building a web. The jumping spider, cutest of all spiders thanks to its giant puppy dog eyes, uses its silk as a drag line or parachute. That way, if it does fall, it can safely control its descent.
Since they are ambush predators, jumping spiders rely on speed and surprise to catch prey as opposed to passively waiting in a spiderweb. Some species of jumping spider can control the drag line midair, allowing them to adjust their trajectory mid-jump for a more precise attack.
Other spiders use their silk for shelter from the environment, layering the webbing to make a roof or enclosure. Spiders will often use [amazon asin=B003G4IM4S&template=*lrc ad (right)]the silk to create a protective casing for their eggs for security against predators. Wolf spiders, in particular, use silk to build retreats for when they are not hunting. However, instead of laying an egg sac in the retreat, or in another hidden spot, they attach the egg sack to their spinnerets. Once the eggs hatch, the spiderlings climb onto the mother’s back for a free ride and for safety until they are large enough to go out on their own.
8 Harvestmen And Camel Spiders Are Not Spiders
All spiders have venomous fangs, two body segments, and spinnerets on the abdomen to produce silk. Many people mistake the [amazon asin=B002A57UI8&template=*lrc ad (left)]harvestman (also known as the daddy longlegs) as a spider, even though it has only one body segment and no venom whatsoever. This is especially confusing because actual spiders—the varying species of cellar spiders—are nicknamed “daddy longlegs” as well.
Contrary to popular myth, daddy longlegs are not extremely venomous. Their fangs are too short to pierce skin. Cellar spiders possess relatively weak venom, and harvestmen produce none at all.
Camel spiders (Solifugae), made famous recently due to photos taken during the Iraq War, are not spiders either. Like the harvestman, they lack venomous fangs and spinnerets. Myths surrounding the aggression, speed, and lethality of camel spiders could fill their own urban legend list. However, though camel spiders can be very aggressive if cornered or handled, the worst they can do is a painful bite that may cause infection if left untreated.