For most of us, spiders at any time of the year aren’t great. And as they multiply, it seems, so too do the myths about them.
But Craig Walker, an invertebrate keeper at London Zoo's Bugs Exhibit, is here to unravel the web of lies spun about our hairy friends.
Myth: There are more spiders in autumn
There aren't actually any more spiders around in the autumn, it's just that we're more likely to see them, either because a few of those who've been living outside might come inside as the temperature drops, or because it's the mating season and the males can be seen hurrying around trying to find a female.
Myth: Spiders like baths
They don’t particularly like baths – and definitely not the getting wet part – it’s just that they fall in and usually can't climb out. This is especially true of large spiders which, unlike some small species, can't walk up smooth surfaces.
Water will wash them away – but beware, warns Walker, they may climb up the overflow again. “Leave strips of toilet paper hanging into the bath to help spiders climb out,” he advises.
Myth: We're scared of spiders because they can hurt us
All British spiders are venomous, as it's the way they disable and digest their prey. However, hardly any of them are harmful to us – and the majority of British spiders couldn't bite you if they tried because their fangs are too small or weak to penetrate human skin.
The very few UK spiders that will bite humans cause only discomfort or an unpleasant sensation – definitely not death, yet there are more than a million arachnophobic people in the UK.
It thought to be spiders' angular shaped legs, dark colours, and unpredictable movements that bring about fear – fear which is passed down through the family. Children who've seen their parents or siblings recoil in horror at the sight of even a tiny spider are more likely to fear the creepy-crawlies themselves.
“Most people in the UK who are frightened of spiders know they can't hurt then and their fear is irrational,” Walker points out.
Myth: Spiders watch you
Spiders have very poor eyesight. “If you're anything more than a couple of inches away from them, you're a blur. They'll pick you up by vibration,” notes Walker.
Fact: You're always within three feet of a spider
According to a study of spiders in England and Holland, there are 131 spiders per square metre. Most of them are very small, which means there's almost definitely a spider within three feet of you, but you probably can't see it.
Walker says: “I doubt you're ever very far away from a spider. It depends how much vacuuming you do – there are spiders everywhere.”
Myth: Spiders like being inside
The truth is, very few spiders are able to comfortably live in modern centrally heated homes. The majority would prefer to be helped back outside where they live in garages, sheds or among general clutter.
Myth: It's best to get rid of a spider in the house
Yes, you now know spiders might not like being inside, but keeping them around is very useful for you because they eat other bugs that we also dislike. “Whenever you're being plagued by midges or mosquitoes, just remember it would be a lot worse if there weren't any spiders around,” Walker points out. “They're the ideal pest controllers.”