Maybe you’ve heard that every person swallows eight spiders a year while sleeping.
It’s a popular claim on the internet, but to BuzzFeed’s Shane Madej, the stat set off his “baloney” detector. So he decided to test it out on himself.
Madej roped in “spider woman” Diana Terranova, a professional spider handler, to see if any of her spiders would crawl into his mouth.
“For the purpose of this experiment I tried to keep my mouth open and inviting, like a cosy shelter of flesh,” Madej says in the video.
First, Terranova dangled an orb weaver spider — one that would typically make its way into a home when temperatures get colder — over his mouth.
In the video, Terranova says “What repels a spider? Vibrations, breath, heartbeat, talking. Anything that resonates … especially the lower hertz, sound very scary to the spider and make it think of a predator.”
Next they tried a cellar spider, often found in basements:
They tried putting bigger and bigger spiders on his face until they got to tarantulas. But none seem interested in going inside Madej’s mouth.
“Sometimes the spider woman told me to do things that I did not like,” Madej says. “But I did them. In the name of science.”
More than anything, spiders probably find sleeping humans terrifying. A slumbering person breathes, has a beating heart and perhaps snores — all of which create vibrations that warn spiders of danger.
“Vibrations are a big slice of spiders’ sensory universe,” Crawford explains, “A sleeping person is not something a spider would willingly approach.”
Terranova does a fantastic job explaining the intentions of spiders in the video, and seems like a really interesting person in her own right. As it turns out, she’s part of the Animal Handler’s union and wrangles spiders, insects, and other critters for TV and movie shoots.
I pretty much handle all the insects. I handle the occasional rat or reptile that might be part of a crazy, creepy laboratory scene or horror scene. But 99 per cent of the time, I’m working with tarantulas, butterflies and the ever popular maggot.
While many people are afraid of spiders, they are actually really helpful, Terranova says:
Spiders are our friends. Believe it or not, the average house spider eats about 2,000 insects every year — Mosquitoes, silver fish, flies and all the other things that are going to come crawling into your house.
If you haven’t seen the BuzzfeedIRL video yet, it’s too hilarious not to watch. That is, if you aren’t terribly arachnophobic:
And despite Madej’s profuse sweating and grimaces of terror, it looks like both he and Terranova both had fun during the video shoot:
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