Are you afraid of spiders? Well, you are not alone. Spiders can seem scary. And 33% of all folks suffer from arachnophobia (a phobia of scary spiders). With almost 50,000 different spider species, there are a lot of different ones.
Your phobia might come from that awful movie we watched growing up of giant spiders crawling out of a subway tunnel and then… Well, you get the picture.
But why are spiders so scary? Let’s find out.
First, Is a Spider an Insect?
So what exactly is a spider and why are they so misunderstood? And is a spider an insect? Well, they are animals (but not insects) with eight legs. And most weave webs to catch their food.
Can spiders bite? Yes, but very rarely. On average, only 6 people die from a spider bite a year so your chances of dying from being bitten are slim to none. Just think over 30 people die from dog bites a year.
Ah, but what about black widows and brown recluse spiders? They have a nasty bite! Again, yes. But they like dark, damp corners. Always wear gloves when you are poking around in a dark garage or garden shed and you should be fine.
So Why are Spiders So Scary?
Lots of folks think spiders are scary. But why?
There is a great deal of research about childhood experiences and evolutionary reasons but I think it comes down to a couple of things.
Some spiders have very erratic movements which can be freaky to watch. Plus they have so many legs!
Also, if you have ever walked into a spider web, especially at night, there is a feeling of dread. Is a giant spider crawling around in my hair? Probably not.
Of course, I always feel sorry for the spider. They have just lost their beautiful web which took time to weave.
Spiders Are Good Neighbors
But spiders are actually good guys and gals to have in your garden and even your house. Yikes? My house? Yep. Spiders eat insects like roaches, aphids, wasps and mosquitos.
So if you see one in your house, you might want to treat it as an important guest. If you leave it alone or even put it on a houseplant as we do, it will happily munch away on your household insects.
And what about catching it and releasing it outside? Most spiders will perish quickly if moved outdoors so maybe you can learn to live with them inside.
Cool Spider Facts
And spiders have superpowers! When a spider weaves its web to catch prey, it uses a silk filament called gossamer. Spider silk is the strongest known natural fiber. Even stronger than steel but much lighter.
Not all spiders weave webs. But when they do, you will be treated to some of the most beautiful art in the world. And a fun fact. It takes a spider about an hour to weave its web.
Plus one spider species plucks its web just like a guitar to attract a mate. How romantic.
And the myth you swallow spiders while you are asleep is just not true. On the other hand, the fact some female spider species will eat their mate after sex is true. How unromantic!
How Can We Help?
So how can we help the misunderstood spider? First, learn all you can and share cool spider facts and photos on social media. Help dispel all the myths surrounding spiders so people won’t think of spiders as scary.
Second, please try and not to use pesticides in your house or garden. And please especially think twice about having your house sprayed for bugs. Even the “green” chemicals can be toxic to not only the spiders but your family. Think about it. If the chemicals can kill bugs, they likely can affect you and your pets.
Third, provide a habitat in your yard for spiders. When you see a spider web, admire it for its beauty instead of tearing it down. And provide dead leaf mulch among your plants for spiders to hide.