Just like the British royals at Windsor Castle, it's said that common folk are nearly surrounded by spiders. It's been often repeated that spiders are always just 3 or 6 feet (1 or 2 meters) away, depending on your Internet source. But it really depends on where you are. If you're having a picnic in the park or hanging out in your back yard, then you're probably surrounded by tiny spiders. If you're in an airplane or at the top of a skyscraper the nearest arachnid may be miles away. Closer to Earth, golf courses and other turf settings are often spider-free because they're so heavily managed by groundskeepers. Many spiders tend to stay in their burrows come winter, especially in northern areas, meaning they are unlikely to swarm if you step outside for a snowball fight. There's certainly not any hard data out there to make this claim common knowledge [sources: Henriksen, Buddle].
What we do know is that most types of spiders are limited to different parts of the world. Brown recluse spiders, for example, can be found from one side of the U.S. to the other, but rarely move above the Mason-Dixon line. Hobospiders, on the other hand, seem to prefer more moderate climes and are commonly found in northern regions of North America [source: Brown Recluse Spider].
Author's Note: 10 Myths About Spiders
Thanks to this assignment, I now know that the tiny little creature that I caught scurrying across my kitchen floor this morning isn't a spider. I know that because this bug only had six legs. What I don't know is whether that makes the critter more or less likely to bite me or to crawl in my mouth while I'm snoring tonight.
More Great Links
- BrownRecluseSpider.com. "Where do Hobo and Recluse Spiders live?" (May 7, 2015) http://brownreclusespider.com/faq.htm
- Buddle, Chris. "You are always within three feet of a spider: Fact or Fiction?" Arthropod Ecology. June 5, 2012 (May 7, 2015) http://arthropodecology.com/2012/06/05/you-are-always-within-three-feet-of-a-spider-fact-or-fiction/
- Crawford, Rod. "General Fallacies." Burke Museum. (May 3, 2015) http://www.burkemuseum.org/spidermyth/myths/3feet.html
- Crawford, Rod. "House Spider Myths." Burke Museum. (May 3, 2015) http://www.burkemuseum.org/spidermyth/myths/comein.html
- Crawford, Rod. "Myth: Spiders come into houses in the fall to get out of the cold." Burke Museum. (May 3, 2015) http://www.burkemuseum.org/spidermyth/myths/comein.html#backout
- Crawford, Rod. "Just Plain Weird Stories." Burke Museum. (May 3, 2015) http://www.burkemuseum.org/spidermyth/myths/windsor.html
- DeNoon, Daniel. "Is It a Spider Bite? Probably Not." WebMD. (May 3, 2015) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/news/20110713/is-it-a-spider-bite-probably-not?page=1
- Explorit Science Center. "Spider Facts." (May 3, 2015) http://www.explorit.org/science/spider.html
- Henriksen, Missy. "Debunking Common Spider Myths." National Pest Management Association. Nov. 8, 2012 (May 7, 2015) http://www.pestworld.org/news-and-views/pest-articles/articles/debunking-common-spider-myths/
- Kaufman, Rachel. "Tarantulas Shoot Silk From Feet, Spider-Man Style." National Geographic. May 17, 2011 (May 3, 2015) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/05/110516-spiders-tarantulas-webs-spider-man-science-animals/
- Masta, Susan. "Spiders Commonly Found in Houses." Portland State University. (May 3, 2015) http://web.pdx.edu/~smasta/MastaSpidersHome.html
- National Geographic. "Tarantula." (May 3, 2015) http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/tarantula/
- National Institutes of Health. "Tarantula spider bite." April 24, 2015 (May 3, 2015) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002855.htm
- Ogg, Barb. "Wolf Spiders in Nebraska." University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (May 3, 2015) http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/wolfspider.shtml
- Scott, Catherine and Christopher Bundle. "The truth about spider bites: "Aggressive" spiders and the threat to public health." SciLogs. Sept. 4, 2014. (May 6, 2015) http://www.scilogs.com/expiscor/the-truth-about-spider-bites-aggressive-spiders-and-the-threat-to-public-health/
- Sneed, Annie. "Fact or Fiction? People Swallow 8 Spiders a Year While They Sleep." Scientific American. April 15, 2014 (May 3, 2015) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-people-swallow-8-spiders-a-year-while-they-sleep1/
- Spider Bite Treatment. "Hobo Spiders." (May 3, 2015) http://www.spiderbitetreatment.com/hobo-spiders
- University of Michigan. "Webs and Cocoons." (May 3, 2015) http://www.biokids.umich.edu/guides/tracks_and_sign/build/webs/
Several new species of tarantula have been discovered at high elevations in the Andes. HowStuffWorks looks at them and why they're migrating so high.