Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Old Wives Tale: Eating Spiders Revisited

I have a friend at work who said he's gotten bitten up by a spider recently. For some reason, I keep trying to suggest alternative sources for these bites. Could they be fleas? Dust mites? Bed bugs? Spiders, for some reason hold this mythical place for me as non-biters. Maybe it's that I grew up with cellar spiders (aka Daddy Longlegs) and they are rumored to have mouths too small to bite humans.

How would I know if he had some sort of biting spider living at his house? Why couldn't a spider bite him?

I've had quite a complicated relationship with spiders, especially in the last few years. I fear them and respect them. If they come into my house, they are no longer sacred and I will kill them. If they are outside, I will not. If they scare the bejeezus out of me, any spider within a room's range will be sucked up, too. If they are found to be eating other insect pests, they will get an automatic stay of execution. At least a temporary one.

If there is a mosquito within a hundred miles, it will find its way to me and give me a bite. It has never occurred to me that some of my night-time mosquito bites may have actually been spiders. I've never thought of them as being guilty of biting humans. My fear of them has always seemed irrational, though clearly physiological. I never thought my fear was of being bitten, just fear for fear's sake.

It reminds me again of that Old Wives Tale about how many spiders you eat in your sleep. I heard someone retell it recently and I wanted to argue at its unlikely truth. This biting thing has me wondering though. Is my arachnophobia missing a few layers? Does getting bitten in my sleep and eating them belong beside just their multiple creepy legs and scary persona?


Anonymous said...

I call SHENANIGANS on eating spiders in your sleep. Yeah, I guess if a spider is on you at night and you roll over it may bite you as a defensive mechanism - but unlike mosquitos they don't go hunting for humans to prey upon.

Brown Recluse is the one spider bite you should be very afraid of. Black Widow (unless you're a real small child) not so much. I've found black widows to be pretty docile. Brown recluses are pretty much assholes.

Maybe he's got chiggers.

ckh said...

I don't think we have chiggers here. The point was that I somehow couldn't wrap my head around the fact that spiders bite, when clearly it's a possibility.