FACT or FICTION? Misinformation about Spiders
Myths about spider traits persist and are repeated so often that they become undisputable facts about all spiders for many people (Crawford, 2013). Much of what people believe about spiders is inaccurate. These facts may be true for a particular species of spider, but not for every spider. For example, (1) not all spiders eat their mates, (2) not all spiders spin webs, (3) not all spiders leave their egg sacks and die after laying eggs, and (4) not all people die from the bite of a black widow (Crawford, 2013). Not all spiders make webs, have venom, or act aggressively (AMNH, 2014). There also have been cases of people intentionally spreading internet hoaxes about spiders that portray spiders as aggressive and extremely dangerous (Vetter & Visscher, 2000).
(photos: wikimedia commons)
There's some truth to the story
Most inaccuracies in information about spiders, however, occur because of the remarkable biodiversity species spiders. Attention-grabbing facts may be true of a particular species of spiders, but not true of all species of spiders. Learning about the differences and similarities of spiders helps people understand biodiversity and the variation of traits of organisms that are related to one another.
That's a Lie: Internet hoaxes
In 1999, a story about a deadly spider spread quickly on the internet and received much attention. According to this hoax, the venemous South American spider, (Arachnius gluteus), had been brought inadvertantly into the United States and had bitten women in the restroom of a restaurant at the Blare Airport in Chicago. This vicious hoax , which had more than 49,000 hits on the internet, led readers to believe several woman had died as a result of the spider bites.
For more information about spider myths visit the Burke Museum website