Urban Legend: The Spider Bite

An Urban Legend

Spider close-up
Laurie Noble/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

This urban legend from the 1960s reads like a nightmare-come-true for arachnophobics (people afflicted with an irrational fear of spiders), but fortunately for them it simply isn't true.

"Spiders, need I say," writes University of Washington arachnid expert Rod Crawford, "do not find the human body a suitable site for egg laying, and no actual case anything like this can be found anywhere in scientific or medical literature."

Bodily insect infestations are a recurring theme in folklore, however. Have you heard the one about the child who fell asleep while eating cookies in bed and woke up with an ant colony in his brain? Or the young lady so enamored of her own "beehive" hairdo in the 1960s that she refused to wash it and died of a spider infestation?

The Spider Bite Story

This woman went vacationing in some overseas country. While lying on the beach she fell asleep and a spider bit her (unknown by her). She woke up with the side of her face a little sore but attributed it to the fact that she had been tanning and maybe got slightly sunburned. Anyway, she finished her vacation, returned home, and her face began to swell, eventually forming a boil which really itched.  Upon visiting her doctor, he broke open the huge boil and hundreds of tiny spiders fell out.  The woman was so horrified that she went into shock and died of a heart attack right there.