January 18th 2020

Little Miss Muffet, Rest Easy: You Don’t Eat Spiders In Your Sleep


Somewhere along the way we learned stuff. Like chewing gum stays in your stomach for seven years (no it doesn’t, and you can guess where it ends up). Yawning is contagious (well, yes, kind of – but for chimpanzees too, apparently). And another one – we swallow eight spiders per year while we’re sleeping.

Hang on – gum is pretty resilient, so you could see how that got started. And the yawning – well, haven’t you already stifled one as you read this? But the spiders? Multiple spiders for every human, as a nocturnal snack?

No. Nope. Nay. Let us count the ways this isn’t true.

Spiders have little interest in sharing your bed; they have their own, and they like it there. They live, as you may have heard, on and near their webs, hoping to catch their own snacks in the process. They do not generally hang out on mattresses, pillows, sheets, duvets, or human faces.

They are scared of vibration. Spiders’ webs are delicate, and they navigate their world by being sensitive to vibration as a signal of danger. Imagine a person, roughly 10,000 times the size of the spider (or whatever, but a lot), who is snoring, tossing and turning, pulsating with the heartbeat of life, fluttering eyelashes and gritting their teeth. That’s a lot of vibration, my friend. Would you run toward an earthquake? No, you would not.

And give yourself some credit — you have defense mechanisms as well. Haven’t you ever woken yourself up to push a stray hair off your face? Or, a fly? You’re asleep, not dead. The sensation of a daddy longlegs dancing from jawline to molar would give you a fighting chance of saving you both.

The myth is a myth. And here’s the worst of all about this – some say this story comes from an article written in 1993 by Lisa Holst called “Reading is Believing” in PC Professional. Supposedly she wrote an article to prove how gullible people are, and this “fact”, which she knew to be wrong, was pulled from a 1954 book called Insect Fact & Folklore (note the word “folklore”). Problem is, it’s incredibly hard to find this Holst article. An article released on the World Wide Web in the 1990s that now has been permanently deleted from the Internet? But Facebook photos live forever? Please. That is what we call a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Actually, we call it not true stuff based on invisible articles purposely written to create urban legends.

If you would like to eat a spider, you’re going to have to take action and cook one up yourself. Some are fans of fried tarantulas, and for you, we humbly offer this recipe. But don’t you dare blame those poor things for coming to you.