Itsy Bitsy Enigmas: 5 New Facts About Spiders

Spiders, like snakes, wolves and sharks, get a lot of bad press. Much of what we think we know about spiders comes from urban myths and legends. But researchers continue to study the spider, and have found 5 amazing new facts about them.

1) We humans are better at detecting snakes than spiders.

It might seem that humans would be more alert to the presence of spiders, since they are more numerous in homes than snakes.

But humans are actually more hard-wired to notice snakes.

Perhaps this is because spiders aren't really as toxic as we frighten ourselves into believing. Several kinds of spiders are bad news, but snakes are far more dangerous to humans, and our reflexes seem to remember this.

2) To boost your ability to detect spiders, look for fat crickets.

That's right. If you see a lot of crickets who look like they need to go on a diet, it may be a sign that there are a crowd of spiders nearby.

Researchers have discovered that there is something spiders secrete or somehow leave behind that alerts crickets to the spiders' presence.

In response, the crickets bulk up, and are better able to repel a spider attack.

3) Most infections aren't caused by spiders.

When lesions, rashes, cysts and other infections appear on the skin, and there seems no other cause, spiders often get blamed.

Researchers now believe that blaming spiders is not fair, because spiders probably aren't the vectors introducing the infection. More study is needed, but don't be quick to judge spiders if you find an unexplained skin eruption.

4) There's a spider spinning electrically-charged webs.

The uloborus spider spins webs using strands of silk that are only several nanometers in diameter.

The strands emerge in liquid form but are made solid by the fierce stretching and twisting done by the spider. This same arachnid engineering causes an electrostatic charge along the thread, increasing the tension of the strand and thus its ability to snag prey.

Scientists are studying the spiders to learn more about spinning nano-fibers into sturdy threads.

5) Yes, spider farms are a thing.

How does a farm growing 50,000 spiders sound to you? What if they also had 500 of one type of scorpion, and maggots by the millions?

One man has just such a farm in Arizona, the largest of its type in the US.

He milks the venomous creatures he farms, selling the venom to researchers. If you're looking for some live spiders to start your own spider farm, it's the place to go.

If you're trying to get rid of spiders instead, contact a pest control company, such as Accurate Termite & Pest Control. They'll have safe ways to remove spiders from your home, and will share tips on how to successfully keep spiders away.