I wandered far out of my comfort zone to find the best answer to this and other spider tales, so I do hope you appreciate it.
Don’t worry, there are no photographs, though there is an elegant graphic at the top that’s not too scary.
Actually, the list of fallacies provided by the museum, which is affiliated with the University of Washington, is detailed and fascinating. Many of these statements I had simply accepted as true, as I did not feel any great need to look further into the subject. Is there a public service corollary to draw between bathtub spiders, propaganda and politics? Oh, probably.
Here’s the answer to my why am I always finding spiders in the tub question, complete with illustration: They simply fall in from the walls or ceiling and can’t get out. They are not in fact lurking voyeuristically in the drain to catch you all soaped up and unaware. (That last one did speak to me, though, I mean it. I think it had a New Jersey accent.)
Some of the myths on the page are hilarious hoaxes. Remember the Iraqi camel spider? How about the one about swallowing spiders in your sleep because they drink from your lips? Glad to know that one is busted, as is the one about never being more than three feet away from one.
I got over the very worst of my arachnophobia when I lived in Australia for a year. You kind of have to get over them if you live there, or you will go a bit nuts. On top of that, my best friends were skydivers and pilots, and when you head out to the Aussie bush every weekend to camp in the Drop Zone, and your jumpmaster keeps a very large one as a pet, and it lives in your sleeping quarters … well … you just do.
I now see the grace and beauty in (some) spiders, and no longer need to sleep in the living room if there’s one in my bedroom. On the other hand, I heartily dislike being caught in the bathtub with a spider, and now that I’ve written this post I confess to feeling them crawling on me. I dare say I’ll take a shower now. Or not.
ADDENDUM Sept. 8, 2010: Read the Burke Museum’s post on house spiders and why we shouldn’t be scared of them, with more information from Mr. Crawford.
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