Myths and Urban legends about Spiders...Fact or Fiction

Aug 20, 2009, 00:27 AM by User Not Found


Myths have been around since ancient Greece, with stories being told of Greek god and goddesses such as Achilles and Hercules just to name a few. Throughout time there has been many myths about spiders, and I can honestly say I believed in a few myself.

I wrote this article to clear the air, focusing on 4 well known myths that revolve around spiders.

The Tarantulas namesake:
As the myth implies, the Tarantula received its name in fifteenth century Italy in the town of Taranto, if bitten by these large spiders It could inflict a disease called Tarantism, In the 15 th to 17th centuries, the city of Taranto in southern Italy was the center of Tarantism which spread across most of southern Europe. The term "tarantism" (also called tarantismo or tarantolismo) comes from the town of Taranto. The large and very venomous tarantula is also named for the city of Taranto. The only cure was to engage in a dance called the Tarantella.

Myth: YES

Tarantulas did get their name from Taranto,Italy. The peasants of Taranto in the fifteenth century were suppressed of any fun activities such as dance, it is believed that the peasants used this as an excuse to dance.

Tarantism: A disease once thought to result from the bite of the tarantula spider. This extraordinary affliction was associated with melancholy, stupor, madness and an uncontrollable desire to dance. In fact, dancing off the tarantula venom was considered the only cure. The dancing was violent and energetic and went for 3 or4 days.


Only the Brown Recluse can shed its skin:

It is said the only spider in existence to be able to shed its skin is the Brown Recluse.

Myth: YES

All spiders shed their skin, but its not really skin it is their exoskeleton. Spiders do this when they grow,  like buying a toddler a coat, in a year they grow out of that coat and need a new one, so when the spiders "Coat" gets too tight they have to get another. This process is called Molting.

Black Widow lays eggs in a womans hairdo, she was bitten and dies.

This myth/Urban Legend stems from the Bouffant hairdo or also known as the "Beehive". This hairdo was all the rage in the 1950's, and it was said that a woman ratted up her hair very high and used a can of hair spray on it. The woman did not wash or comb her hair in fear of ruining her "Do". over time a Black Widow spider crawled into her hair and laid eggs. When the eggs hatched, she was bitten so many times he had died.

Myth: YES

This never happened, Spiders do not find the human hair or even the body a good place to lay their eggs, and the eggs of a spider is not easy harvest in any amount of hairspray.

Tarantulas Can Jump 3-4 feet.

So I have heard this one personally by a co-worker that said his sister was poking and pushing a tarantula when one of her friends said that she shouldn't do it because tarantulas can jump real high. I have also seen this on the web (no pun intended).

Myth: YES

As a tarantula keeper, I am in and out of their enclosures all the time, and can say from experience Tarantulas DO NOT JUMP!  What people do not realize is that... say a tarantula jumped 2 feet, from the fall alone the poor thing would die. Tarantulas are very fragile creatures, regardless if they are a U.S. native or not.

These are only a few that have been out in circulation for many years, from exploding cactus filled with tarantulas to black widows laying eggs in your hair they are all fiction. Hope you enjoyed this article!