Arachnophobes often dread the autumn and winter because it means that the threat of more spiders appearing in their houses is looming.
Arachnophobes often dread the autumn and winter because it means that the threat of more spiders appearing in their houses is looming. Being so widely hated by people, spiders venturing indoors are most likely met with screams and a hard boot crashing down upon them.
More and more of our eight legged houseguests find their way into our homes in these months usually because the males are on the hunt for a female mate. While it may seem that spiders seek out your bed in particular, and while some are convinced that they follow them on purpose, spiders are just looking for love!
To help out people that freak out at the sight of amorous arachnids, the Society of Biology has created an app called Spider in Da House which features information about the 12 most common spiders you’re most likely to encounter at this time of year.
New research has suggested that cities have been breeding larger and larger spiders because of the high abundance of food that’s readily available, so it might be more important than ever for those afraid of the many legged-beings to learn more and try to conquer their fears.
Why are they scary?
Like most people, I can definitely admit to jumping a bit when a spider runs across the room out of apparently nowhere. I’m pretty comfortable with picking them up and throwing them out the window once I’ve seen and dealt with its existence, but the immediate irrational shock seems to be unavoidable.
What is it that makes spiders conjure so much horror in so many people? Where does it stem from? Some believe evolutionarily they are an accumulation of many different fear factors. They live in dark places, they’re angular and are often dark in colour.
Spiders in this country are mostly completely harmless (apart from the odd horror story you hear about black widows dwelling Tesco bananas), so it’s all a bit contradictory. Try telling that to an arachnophobe, though!
Unfortunately, the fear is very real and deeply set for some, which can make the sudden appearance of spiders pretty traumatic, for both the individual and those around to witness the incessant screaming. Spider in Da House aims to tackle this, by providing information and rationalising their existence to those living in fear.
Spider in Da House
It has pictures of all spiders most likely to be seen in our homes and short descriptions of their species and behaviours. For example, the Tegenaria spider, commonly known as “house spiders” frequent our bathtubs and the underneath of our sofas.
The app tells you that these guys only come inside in search of females, and also contains some information about telling apart the sexes from looking at their genitals under a microscope, if you’re into that.
Most importantly, I think Spider in Da House is a good way of convincing oneself that the spider in the corner isn’t going to eat you. It’s not poisonous, it doesn’t have fangs, and it doesn’t particularly want to be near you either.
The fear is irrational and uncontrollable, but a bit more information about the lives of spiders can only help matters when spiders are pretty much unavoidable in our lives. If your friend is completely inconsolable, your spider facts might not have very much effect, but it’s worth a try!
Why you shouldn’t scream
So, they may be creepy, have way too many legs and end up in your bed sometimes, but like it or not spiders are here to stay. They’re actually brilliant pest controllers, gobbling up flies which can be a downright nuisance in the house, especially when cooking.
By feeding on the most common species of flies and other insects, spiders actually keep down their numbers and stop certain species becoming dominant and messing up the ecosystem. As well as catching pests in them, spiders webs are also pretty awesome things that take a great photo.
Did you know that spiders spin webs purely by instinct? Impressive isn’t it.
We have a lot to thank and admire spiders for, believe it or not, so if you’re guilty of a scream-fest whenever you see one scuttling along, take a deep breath, have a look at the app and educate yourself about our helpful house guests. I’m not saying you have to love them, but give them a chance.
Finally, if you’re not convinced, as a last resort, remember that some jumping spiders actually wear water droplets as hats. You’ve got to admit that’s cool.
Image: [ Imgur / Uda Dennie ]
Image: [ Flickr / spilopterus ]