What is it about Halloween that makes us think of spiders? Ever notice that they seem to be everywhere once October’s darks days descend on us? From the supermarket to schoolyard to the dinner party, you’ll see spider treats and spider decorations and spider costumes. You can’t escape from them!
Halloween and spiders
What else do you see a lot of around this time of year? Witches! Spiders and witches like to spend Halloween together. Indeed, in the past, spiders, black cats and rats were thought to be witches’ companions in their nefarious schemes. It was all happening in the witch’s house! And spiders could be found in the middle of the action.
Think of the places you usually associate with Halloween. You know, cheerful places such as caves, graveyards, haunted houses and dungeons. All these places are usually abundantly decked out with spiders’ dusty webs. People associate spiders with dark dirty places where many fear to tread. However, did you know that only certain species of spiders prefer the dark?
So spiders are often associated with creepy places and people. No wonder Halloween is their time to shine. Well, scurry in the darkness anyway. However, spiders are also associated with magic and myths. Many cultures treasure spiders because of their skills at weaving intricate webs. They are sometimes regarded as storytellers, spinning their tales. Indeed, some cultures regard them as oracles.
It’s not surprising then that many superstitions have evolved around spiders. Some people regard spiders as a sign of a happy home. Others are afraid to kill spiders, preferring instead to carry them across the threshold and releasing them outside. Many people of course would sooner carry a jellyfish than try to pick up a spider!
What colour is your spider?
Here’s something to consider the next time you spot a spider in your home. (Now don’t pretend that there are no spiders in your home!) What colour is the spider?
If you notice a white spider getting comfortable above your bed, don’t panic. It’s regarded as a sign of good luck.
But what if it’s a black spider? Well, that’s not so good. Black spiders are believed to bring bad luck with them into a home.
Remember what we said about spiders and witches? When you see one, the other is likely not too far away. In the past, when people used candles to light their homes, it was not uncommon to see spiders fall on to the candles and get burned in the flames. This was obviously bad news for the spider. However, it was also bad news for the people in the home. It meant that witches were in the vicinity…
If the spider chose Halloween night to embrace the flames, that was even worse. Soon after, a witch would come knocking on your door. And she wouldn’t be looking for chocolate treats!
It’s not all bad news though. Some people regard spiders as magical weavers of mystery. The arrival of a spider in your home was believed to be a portent of good fortune. Indeed, the spider might bring some money in its wake. If it was a big spider, you could expect a big windfall. Of course, if it was a big tarantula, you might have other concerns on your mind…
What do you do when you see a spider? Do you ignore it and let it get on with its business? Or do you run screaming from the room? Perhaps you grab the nearest newspaper and start squishing with abandon.
Some people believe that it is bad luck to harm a spider. (Spiders believe this too!) This is because of the spider’s magical associations. In fact, if you step on a spider, according to one superstition, this will lead to a downpour of rain. And a flat spider.
Although many people hate and fear spiders, some people welcome them. Why? Because spiders are thought to cure some illnesses.
It was once believed that putting a spider in syrup was a good way to cure a fever. Going to see a doctor is another good way to cure a fever. Just saying!
Do you know any more spider superstitions? Send us a tweet to @Rentokil_PestIE
Arachnophobia: Feel the fear
It’s probably true that most people don’t like spiders. After all, these little creatures are… well, creepy and downright unpleasant! You just can’t imagine cuddling up to a spider, can you?
However, some people have a more extreme reaction to spiders and are actually afraid, even terrified, of them. This fear is known as arachnophobia, or fear of arachnids. (Spiders, like scorpions and ticks, are arachnids.)
Fear is sometimes a good thing, of course. It stops us from doing stupid things (most of the time). Indeed, arachnophobia may be an evolutionary protection mechanism. Back in the good old days of caves and jungles, our ancestors would have frequently encountered venomous spiders. Being afraid of the sight of spiders was a good way to protect yourself from harm, even death.
The horror, the horror
Of course, where there is fear there is also entertainment. Who doesn’t love a good horror movie that plays on our most primal fears? Arachnophobia has been a theme in many horror films over the years. Spiders might be used to add atmosphere to haunted houses, vampires’ castles or damp dungeons. Or they might tap into our fear of atomic radiation, as they evolve into rampaging mutants on screen.
What’s your favourite spider horror film? Send us a tweet to @Rentokil_PestIE