Do Spiders Bite You In Your Sleep
Myth: “A spider bit me while I was asleep. … If a spider does get on a bed, usually no bite will result. Spiders have no reason to bite humans; they are not bloodsuckers, and are not aware of our existence in any case.
Myth: “I’m allergic to spiders.”
Reality: No one really knows if you’re allergic to spiders. That’s because the only way to know for sure is with an allergy test. If you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse or black widow (which can be fatal), your doctor may want to run tests. But as far as just being generally sensitive to them goes, most experts say that it’s unlikely. After all, we spend more time around them than we do mosquitoes — and yet the likelihood of us developing allergies to mosquitoes is pretty high. So, even though there’s some evidence that people might have a sensitivity to certain species of spiders, it’s probably not worth worrying about unless you come down with a serious illness like necrotic arachnidism.
Myth: “Spiders make webs.”
Reality: True. Spiders build silk webs to catch their prey. They don’t use them to trap you when you’re sleeping! The webbing also has uses other than trapping insects. It helps keep moisture out of leaves during the rainy season and keeps bugs from invading plants. Most spiders won’t bother humans at all, but black widows, brown recluses, tarantulas and several other types are known to occasionally bite people who disturb their nests. And, yes, sometimes they succeed in killing their victims.
Myth: “If someone dies from a spider bite, then they were bitten by a poisonous spider.”
Reality: False. There are lots of different kinds of spiders, including harmless ones. Some have venom glands, but many don’t. Even those that do produce toxins need a lot of pressure before the toxin actually reaches your skin. As such, bites aren’t likely to cause death, especially since medical attention can help stop the spread of infection. For example, physicians often prescribe antibiotics after a spider bite.
Myth: “You should wash off a spider bite immediately.”
Reality: Probably not necessary. A study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine showed that washing a wound after getting hit with a cactus doesn’t lower the risk of infection. Researchers believe that removing dirt and bacteria from the wound may slow the healing process, so washing isn’t recommended. However, the researchers did recommend cleaning the area with soap and water to remove excess salt and sweat.
Myth: “To find a dead spider, look under the mattress.”
Reality: Not necessarily. When a spider senses danger, it hides away until the threat passes. This means that the best place to search for a lurking spider is where he or she spends most of its life: inside a dark corner of the house. That said, if you see a live spider outside, try to capture it using paper towels or cotton balls rather than trying to kill it yourself. Also, remember that spiders can sense movement too, which means that if you move around while looking for a spider, you could scare him or her into hiding.
Myth: “If you touch a spider, you’ll die.”
Reality: Again, false. While it’s true that touching a spider can be dangerous, it’s only slightly more deadly than handling a snake. Bites rarely occur when someone touches a spider. Most cases involve someone walking across a web and stepping on a spider accidentally.
Myth: “Spiderwebs can cause asthma attacks.”
Reality: Not true. Spiderwebs contain tiny particles called urushiol, which can cause severe itching and burning sensations on our skin. People with allergies tend to develop asthma attacks when exposed to large amounts of urushiol. However, studies show that exposure to small quantities of urushiol causes little harm. Although children seem to be more susceptible to urushiol poisoning, adults should avoid it altogether.
Myth: “The black widow looks like a violin-shaped piece of metal jewelry.”
Reality: Nope. Black widows’ fangs are located near the end of two thin legs. Their bodies are long and cylindrical, without much variation in color. Like most spiders, they spin short threads for catching food. Unlike most spiders, black widows secrete poison through special organs instead of fang tips. These poisons take anywhere from six hours to five days to reach the victim’s bloodstream. Once the venom enters the bloodstream, it travels quickly to the heart and lungs, causing severe pain and ultimately leading to respiratory problems, muscle paralysis and possibly death.
Myth: “People can become fatally poisoned by eating a few minutes old mouse droppings.”
Reality: Very possible, but very rare. Mice poop contains chemicals that can lead to toxic shock syndrome. Eating these substances can cause fever, diarrhea, vomiting and internal bleeding. To prevent this, mice must be kept away from garbage cans and rodent traps.
Myth: “Brown recluses never attack people.”
Reality: Maybe. Brown recluses are shy garden spiders found throughout North America. They prefer to hide away during daylight hours. At nightfall, however, they go hunting for insects. Since they don’t typically venture past their burrows, some people mistakenly think they’re safe from brown recluses. In reality, brown recluses are aggressive predators, preferring to eat caterpillars and beetles over smaller pests. Brown recluses can grow up to three inches long. If you feel threatened by a brown reclusive, leave the area immediately. Do not attempt to grab the spider, as doing so may further agitate the animal. Instead, simply tap lightly against a nearby surface to frighten the spider away.
Myth: “Black widows carry venom that can kill a person within 15 minutes.”
Reality: Not true. According to the National Institutes of Health, deaths caused by black widow bites account for less than 1 percent of reported cases annually. Why? Because black widows inject their venom through a set of hollow fangs rather than directly onto a victim’s skin. Also, most victims recover completely after treatment.
For more information on myths, truth behind rumors and interesting facts about common household spiders, please visit Snopes.com.
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