Spider Facts -Spiders Don’t Bite (As Much As You Think)
Just recently, news broke out about North Memphis, Tennessee residents discovering half mile-long “spider webs” outdoors. The long blanket of silk was actually the result of “ballooning”—a phenomenon wherein baby spiders climb to a high point, send out a thread of silk, and let the wind catch the silk and carry the spiders off to a different location. What appeared to be a giant spider web was actually millions of tiny spiders transported to the same area at the same time.
If you’re like most people, the sight of that massive “web” would have caused shivers to run down your spine. With that many spiders crawling around your neighborhood, are you bound to become a victim of swarming spiders and get bitten to death?
Busting the myth
According to pest control specialists, spiders are actually quite beneficial for the natural environment—they act as predators for specific insects and other arthropods, and this can help a garden thrive. But they can often find their way into people’s homes, causing homeowners to worry about getting bitten.
Here’s something that people should keep in mind: Spiders don’t bite humans just because they can, or just because they come across each other. Provided below are the reasons why:
Spiders don’t stand to benefit from biting people.
Mosquitoes, ticks, bed bugs and similar creatures bite humans because their blood and fluids serve as their food supply. Spiders, however, only feed on other arthropods and insects.
If a spider does bite a person, it’s for self-defense. Typically, if a person disturbs a spider’s hiding place, or is about to crush the spider, that’s the only time when the spider will bite.
The spiders that are most commonly thought to bite humans aren’t even naturally found in the locations where the spider bites reportedly occur.
The brown recluse spider is often blamed for cases of bites, but it is estimated that 60% of all those alleged cases take place in areas where the brown recluse spider doesn’t even live. If the spider does happen to be transported to a location (via vehicles, luggage or materials for landscaping), bites from this species happen so rarely since they are shy; there is very little chance of actually being bitten by them.
Most spiders don’t have the ability to demonstrate the kind of bite that would be dangerous to humans.
Only a small percentage of spiders found in the United States have fangs that would be able to penetrate human skin. And among those, only the black widow spiders can cause serious illness—they produce a neurotoxic venom. However, the spiders like the brown recluse spider are often wrongly blamed for bites that cause necrotic lesions, which are often caused by other creatures like bugs and ticks.
How to tell if it’s a spider bite
Spider bites, when they occur, are distinguishable by two small punctures that are set closely together (thanks to the spider’s fangs). It can be difficult to identify a spider bite once it has become swollen because the puncture marks disappear, but keep in mind that spiders only bite once. They are not the culprits if a person shows signs of multiple bites, or if there are multiple cases of bites in a single location.