Arachnophobia - The Fear of Spiders

Research has shown that the fear of spiders is often taught to young children by means of their parents' behaviour towards these creatures, if a child sees its mother squeal and run from a spider, then the child will associate a spider with fear and adopt the same attitude.
In the UK, the majority of spiders are harmless and we do not have the dangerous, venomous species of other countries, but the media has, in recent times, created alarm with stories of the False Widow spiders, which are no more harmful to humans than a bee sting, but alarmist reporting has increased the fear of spiders in a lot of people.


Dealing with a phobia

People with a fear of spiders will probably go out of their way to ensure that they do not come in to contact with one. Spiders in the home can cause alarm and the person with the fear will be unable to trap and remove the spider and can sometimes rely upon a relative or friend to deal with it.
Extreme fear of spiders can cause panic attacks and hysteria and people who suffer from this extreme fear will even change their lifestyle and limit their activities to avoid the possibility of facing the object of their fears. This can involve, avoiding camping, visiting old buildings, zoos, fields, or any other numerous places where they anticipate these creatures may be.
Therapy to alleviate arachnophobia can involve cognitive-behavioural techniques, which works on helping the person to change the way they think and react to their fears. Also exposure therapy can be used which aims to help the person control their anxiety and cope when they are exposed to their fears.
Gently introducing spiders in a controlled environment to the person who has the phobia can help them to realise that their fear is irrational and with slow, gradual introduction to spiders, the person will eventually conquer their fear and be able to cope with the unexpected meeting of spiders.

Interesting Facts about Spiders

  • There are approximately 40000 different species of spider.
  • Spiders are found on each continent of the world apart from Antarctica.
  • Spiders are not insects, they are arachnids.
  • Generally spiders produce silk which they use to make spider webs and capture prey.
  • The majority spiders are harmless to humans but a small number of spider species, such as the black widow, can bite and inject venom. Deaths from spider bites are however quite rare.
  • Other species of the arachnid family include scorpions, mites, harvestmen and ticks.
  • Tarantulas are large and habitually hairy spiders, the biggest species have been known to kill mice, birds and lizards.
  • The largest species of tarantula is the Goliath Birdeater, however most tarantulas pose no threat to humans.