(You also do not swallow spiders while sleeping.)
These are two of the most pernicious urban myths I have tried to dispel over the years. I have met with a lot of reticence in the process.
The other day, I was telling a friend about Henry, the little brown house spider who has taken up residence on the right hand side of my bed, where it meets the wall. Henry built an elaborate little web between the wall and the mattress, and I am reluctant to destroy it by changing the fitted sheets.
My friend gasped in horror, “Aren’t you afraid he will bite you?”
“Who?” I asked in confusion, “Henry? Why would he want to bite me?”
“I get bitten all the time by spiders in my sleep.”
“No you don’t,” I said flatly, feeling as I said it that I could certainly have been more polite. “Why would a spider bite you in your sleep?”
She stared at me, flabbergasted, but did not have an answer. “Let’s review the facts,” I said, “Spiders hunt small insects, not humans. They don’t drink blood, they have no real desire to be anywhere near a human. If a spider somehow accidentally got into your bed, it would not aggressively seek you out, and if you accidentally rolled onto it, you’d probably smash it. We are many, many times the size of a spider.”
“Well, I wake up with red bumps,” she said defensively, “And what else could cause them?”
“There are a million things that could cause red bumps!” I exclaimed, “It could be bites from actual blood sucking insects and mites (of which there are plenty), but it could also be a bacterial infection, or a rash or an allergy or acne or an ingrown hair…”
My friend was not convinced. You might not be either, so you can visit some other resources, like this one, here, here, or here (that one has a nice list of things misdiagnosed as spider bites)…or here.
And while I’m on this topic, you also do not swallow spiders in your sleep. That was a myth generated to show how gullible people can be and a lot of people (ironically) believe it.
Just think about it…why would a spider crawl into your mouth? What kind of selective force would act to promote that behaviour? Spiders that crawl into animal mouths would be very quickly wiped from the gene pool, I think.
Still don’t believe me? Check out some other sources here, here, and here. Or do your own searches and convince yourself. If you can think of a good, convincing reason why spiders would bite you in your sleep or crawl into your mouth, please leave a comment below…because I have yet to hear one.