ARE SPIDERS MORE ABUNDANT AROUND HALLOWEEN?

       There are many superstitions surrounding Halloween.  Quite a few of these folktales deal with the mistaken belief that spiders consort with witches, ghosts, and goblins.  Let’s look at one of these tall tales.

       One of the stories I have heard is that spiders are more abundant around Halloween because they gather with witches and unsavory characters this bizarre holiday.  The truth of the matter is that chances are people are more likely to see more spiders around Halloween than they might during the spring, summer, and winter.  However, this has nothing to do with Halloween.  Instead, there is a scientific basis for spiders being more abundant in the fall of the year.  Halloween just happens to celebrated during this season.

       There are two reasons why we are more apt to see spiders in the fall.  First, this is the mating season for a vast number of spiders.  Consequently, spiders are more prone to be out and about then looking for mates.  This increases the likelihood we will encounter them.

      Another reason is when spiders emerge from eggs in spring they are extremely small; this makes them difficult to find.  Throughout the spring and summer, they continue to increase in size.  Once they reach maturity by fall, it is much easier for us to spot them.  This gives us the false impression that they are actually more abundant.

       I lament the fact that so many people cringe whenever they see a spider.  As a result, untold numbers of spiders are killed because we fear them.  Their perceived association with Halloween helps perpetuate our animosity toward these beneficial invertebrates.  In truth, the vast majority of the 35,000 species of spiders found around the world pose no threat to humans.  In contrast, they are important predators that help control insects and other invertebrates that humankind considers detrimental.

2 thoughts on “ARE SPIDERS MORE ABUNDANT AROUND HALLOWEEN?

  1. Mr. Johnson, could you do a column on the difference between the Joro spider as opposed to the native Garden, or Woods spider, and how to tell them apart? My fear is that people may be killing the native spider thinking it is the Joro spider.

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