Is everything you know about spiders complete fiction, or is there some truth to the urban legends we’ve all heard growing up? Do we really swallow spiders in our sleep? Is spider silk truly as strong as steel? Let’s find out!
True or False: You swallow spiders while you sleep.
False. While we can’t say that it’s impossible for this to happen, it would be against a spider’s nature to crawl out from a secluded place onto a sleeping human many times its size, with no prospect of food, and choose to enter a breathing, snoring mouth.
True or False: Black widow venom is stronger than a rattlesnake’s.
True. In fact, black widow venom is at least 10 times more potent than a rattlesnake’s venom when comparing the two apples to apples. The reason why more people die per year of rattlesnake bites than black widow bites is that a snake injects much more venom in its bite than a spider.
True or False: All spiders spin webs.
False. Contrary to popular belief, not every spider variety spins webs! For instance, species in the wolf spider family sprint after their prey, similar to an actual wolf. Jumping spiders will stalk and pounce on their prey.
True or False: Spiders crawl up plumbing into bathrooms.
False. Your pipes’ anatomy would make it extremely unlikely for a spider to climb up all the way through your plumbing into your sink or shower. The spider would have to swim through a pocket of water contained in a curved section of pipe called the “P trap.” If you find a spider in your sink or bathtub, it was most likely attracted by the water droplets and climbed down into the plumbing fixture from above.
Keep in mind, it’s not impossible for anything to swim and climb up through your plumbing. Skilled swimmers, like rats, are a different story.
True or False: Spider silk is comparable to steel in strength.
True. Spider silk is incredibly strong and resilient, which makes it of great interest to scientists and manufacturers. The material can be stretched to several times its length before it breaks and can measure up to five times stronger than steel. However, its natural structure has proved extremely difficult to replicate, and spiders’ cannibalistic tendencies make spider silk difficult to mass-produce, unlike silk from silkworm farms.
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