Is Spider Phobia Justified?


Arachnophobia, the fear of spiders, is the most common fears in humansanimal related phobias. Fortunately, I don't fall into that category and am blessed to be able appreciate their beauty. I guess the main reasons why my eight legged friends are so feared is because their agile and unpredictable movements, as well as other peoples reaction to the whichare both things we as humans are hard-wired to fear.

Spiders kill their food using web traps and venom; in most species this venom is only harmful to their prey such as insects, small mammals, birds and reptiles. However, despite the endless amount of spider species (circa 44 thousand in fact) there are only a dozen or so whose venom is harmful to humans and, contrary to popular belief, they are also usually quite small.

Let's have a look at three of the most feared members of the spider, but just how justified are our judgements bearing in mind that we don't have dargerous species in Britain

The Black Widow

The Black Widow is a very distinctive spider; easily identified by the hour-glass shape on their abdomen. The BW is one of the most feared spiders, with reports of its venom being 15 times stronger than that of a rattle snake! Ouch!

If you unfortunate enough to be bitten by a Black Widow, you may experience feelings of nausea, muscle ache or sustain difficulty breathing.

Whilst it is commonly believed that a BW bite is fatal, the truth is that most people who are bitten by a Black Widow Spider suffer no serious damage and are at no risk of death. Fatal bites are rare with only small children, the elderly and infirm at high risk.

The Black Widow Spider is a non-aggressive spider that only bites in defence, such as when someone accidentally sits on them – surely we would react if someone did the same to us!? I know I would, maybe not quite a bite but I definitely wouldn't be able to 'bite my tongue'!

The Funnel Web Spider

Funnel Web Spiders are named after the conical webs they use as burrows and prey traps. There are around 40 species of FW spiders – however only a couple are truly dangerous to humans - for example, the Sydney Funnel Web Spider.

The symptoms of being bitten by a Funnel Web Spider may include vomiting, uncontrollable shaking, sweating and cloudy vision.

What clouds people's judgement of the severity of a Funnel Web Spider is that the bite is very painful due to the large fangs. Pain aside, the acidic venom released during the bite can be quickly eased by applying a large amount of pressure to the wound. With pressure, the venom cannot spread and the nasties in it quickly die – a fast reaction is everything.

The Brazilian Wandering Spider

In Greek, the scientific name of the Brazilian Wandering Spider translates to "murderess" and this is perhaps one species of spider that can be rightfully called dangerous. Yes, even this makes me a little trembley – not quite running for the hills but wary none-the-less. A first for the animal man!

The symptoms of being bitten by a Brazilian Wandering Spider are extreme pain, skin cell destruction, paralysis, fatal breathing complications and heart attacks.

Victims can die in the hour as it is extremely rare to find effective anti-venom, particularly as you're likely to be in a location far from a medical centre.

Brazilian Wandering Spiders have a distinctive attacking stance which they adopt when they feel threatened - it involves them waving their front legs in the air whilst swaying side to side.

Personally, I strongly believe spiders are misunderstood. They are actually very well adapted, very agile creatures, able to adapt to and control their environments due to their quick, almost seamless movements. So next time you're reaching for that shoe or book, maybe take a glass and a piece of card instead and set the little mite free to find another home.