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Do Humans Eat Spiders In Their Sleep

by Annabel Caldwell
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Do Humans Eat Spiders In Their Sleep

Do Humans Eat Spiders In Their Sleep

Luckily for all of us, the “fact” that people swallow eight spiders in their sleep yearly isn’t true. … The myth flies in the face of both spider and human biology, which makes it highly unlikely that a spider would ever end up in your mouth.

It’s not uncommon to see an old wives’ tale or two floating around on the internet. One such example is that humans eat spiders in their sleep. While this may be technically true — they do happen to consume one every year — it’s also completely untrue. So what gives? Why does the myth persist when even the most basic facts about spiders are so thoroughly debunked?
The answer lies with how we think about spiders as well as our own self-perceptions. A lot of people who believe this myth don’t actually know much about them at all. They’ve never seen a live adult female spider (they’re only active during daylight hours), they have no idea how large some can get or how many species there are, and they likely haven’t had any experience interacting with them in real life either. It turns out the reason why people might feel like they’d want to “eat” a tarantula is because in general, they view spiders as being similar to snakes or rats. This misconception stems from the way we tend to categorize animals as either predators or prey. And while humans aren’t always considered prey, given the fact that we share the same planet with these creepy crawlers, our minds will often default to thinking we should be wary of them.
But here’s the thing: We’re not usually preyed upon by spiders. Even if you were somehow able to catch one without getting stung, you probably wouldn’t want to keep it as a pet anyway since they typically bite very little compared to other arthropods. Like cockroaches, stick worms and scorpions, spiders can inflict painful bites but rarely cause lasting harm. As for eating them in your sleep, that simply doesn’t make sense considering how they behave once they find themselves in your bed. Most spiders have a pretty good understanding of where to stay away from people (i.e., webs) and will avoid areas where light sources shine directly into dark places. If one ends up in your room, it’ll scurry quickly under something. In addition, spiders are perfectly capable of seeing you; they have compound eyes just like you do. You won’t confuse one for another person, but you could mistake it for a fly, moth or butterfly. But they’re quick and agile enough to dodge whatever you throw at them. Plus, spiders are generally harmless. Yes, they occasionally carry diseases and parasites, but that’s true of everyone else too.
So what happens when someone wakes up in the middle of the night and has the urge to grab a snack? According to MythBusters, they probably won’t resort to eating spiders. Instead, they’ll probably opt to go after something easier to obtain, like fruit. Or maybe they’ll reach over to their side table and pull out a bottle of sleeping pills.
While there are several popular tales associated with spiders, none are more notorious than the story of the Tarantula Man. This was a 19th century legend that claimed a man named John Bell had been bitten by a black widow while he slept and subsequently died. This supposedly happened in the town of Bexar in Texas in 1853. Whether this event occurred is debatable, but the story certainly took hold among residents in the area and spread across the country. Some believed that Bell was bitten by a brown recluse spider, others thought he was killed by a rattlesnake, and still others said his death resulted from drinking contaminated water. Regardless, the story continues today to serve as fodder for urban legends and horror movies.

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