Seeing a spider is probably enough to make you jump out of your seat. They are not something you want hanging around your house. Unlike other insects, spiders will not always run off at the first sight of humans, which might make you wonder whether spiders are scared of humans at all.
No, spiders are not initially scared of humans but they will be if a human tries to get rid of them. Spiders don’t see humans as natural predators and may not notice a human at all. Spiders typically camouflage themselves and hide when threatened to avoid further conflict.
Understanding how spiders experience fear is pretty complicated, but if you’re trying to keep them out of your house, this information can be useful. In this article, we will give you a list of the reasons spiders are not afraid of humans.
Why People Are Afraid of Spiders
It’s common for people to be afraid of spiders and insects. This is probably an instinctual fear back from the days when we did not have the same standards of cleanliness we do today.
Insects can carry diseases and attract other pests, meaning fear of insects is inherently a fear of the danger accompanying them. If you are interested in learning about why people fear spiders and the instincts surrounding fear, this academic article published in Society & Animals is a great place to start.
People are also afraid of spiders because some are poisonous. Poisonous spiders can be extremely dangerous, and if you have problems with them infesting your home, you should look into eliminating them.
However, the majority of house spiders, even spiders that bite, are harmless. Still, seeing a spider is enough to make most of us jumpy.
If you are afraid of spiders, then it is worth investing in ways to keep them out of your house. There are lots of tricks to keep them out, and it does not have to be expensive. However, if you have a problem with infestations or continue to have problems with spiders, consult an expert.
It helps to know where these pests are coming from as well. Check out our article, 9 Different Ways That Spiders Get Into Your Home to figure out how they are getting into your home.
An expert can tailor your spider repelling plan to your specific needs and will better be able to understand your situation. The first trick to keep spiders out of your house is keeping everything clean.
Not only does this make your house a nicer place to live, but it prevents spiders from being able to build webs. It also keeps other insects out of the house. If you do not have any bugs for spiders to eat, they will not stick around very long.
Another trick is to try some spray repellent. The Mighty Mint Spider Repellent is non-toxic and will keep spiders and insects out of your home. Since the ingredients are natural, you do not have to worry about having anything dangerous in your house, and it smells great, too!
I hope that’s some helpful information on why people are afraid of spiders. Let’s get back to that list and look at things from the spider’s perspective again!
Reason 1: Spiders Are Afraid Of Their Natural Predators
Technically, humans can be a predator of spiders since we will eliminate them if they come into our homes, but in the wild, we are not one of their natural predators.
Natural predators of spiders include birds, monkeys, lizards, and insects such as scorpions. Bigger spiders might even go after smaller spiders. Since spiders are much more likely to encounter these kinds of animals in the wild, they fear these animals more than humans.
When a spider encounters a human, it probably doesn’t understand who or what a human is. Since we are not part of the spider’s food chain, a spider is probably more confused by our presence than threatened.
Reason 2: Spiders Do not Always Notice Humans
If you try to stomp on a spider, it probably will notice you. Otherwise, a spider does not have the most advanced senses of sight and smell. So, the chances are it probably does not know you are there.
This goes back to the point mentioned earlier; we are not part of a spider’s natural food chain. While some cultures will eat spiders, most of us probably do not have spiders on the menu. Even if we did, we are still don’t have a spider encounter daily.
Reason 3: Some Spiders and People Get Along
Some people like to keep spiders as pets. Others are not bothered by spiders and let them mind their own business. If the spider has been around people who have not threatened it, it is more likely to feel comfortable around humans.
If spiders and people can get along, you may wonder why this is not always the case. Let’s take a quick break from the reasons spiders are not afraid for a minute and think about why people fear spiders. Don’t worry, we’ll come back to the list in a minute!
Reason 4: Spiders Feel Fear Differently
Fears are essentially driven by perceived threats. Fear is a very instinctual emotion, and it activates some of the most primitive parts of the brain. For instance, if you see a spider, you jump without even thinking because you feel like the spider could be dangerous.
Even though fear is still a fairly instinctual emotion for humans, human brains are much more developed than a spider’s brain. While we can distinguish between threats and judge their potential danger, a spider does not have a sophisticated thought process and may not be scared of humans.
A spider either instantly perceives something as a threat or does not.
As we mentioned earlier, spiders might not recognize humans as a threat immediately. Because their brain does not possess the capacity to think through the implications of encountering a human, it will devote its energy to other tasks like building a web.
Spiders are not very good at multitasking, and they cannot devote their energy to multiple purposes at once. Being afraid of something takes a lot of effort, so a spider will not waste its time worrying about and being afraid of humans.
While we can be afraid and still function reasonably well, spiders do not work the same way.
Additionally, spiders techincally can be afraid of some scents as it limits their ability to process information around them. You can learn more about repelling spiders with scents in our article: 8 Scents That Spiders Hate (and How to Use Them)
Reason 5: Some Spiders Are not Threatened Or Scared
Some spiders might overestimate their ability, and not all spiders are poisonous. Again however, most house spiders are relatively harmless. Please, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and if a spider bites you, seek help from a professional..
While we are on the subject, let’s distinguish between spider prevention and spider elimination. Since spiders are usually harmless, there is no need to eliminate them.
In actuality, harmless spiders are good to have around your home as they eat insects and bugs that could be living near your home. Plus, spiders usually stay relatively hidden!
However, many still do not want them around, which is why we like to practice spider prevention. This keeps spiders from coming into your home.
The methods we mentioned earlier, the spider spray focuses on spider prevention. While it is better to do so and keep spiders out of your house, no method is will be 100% effective. If you encounter a poisonous spider in your house or have an infestation, contact a professional.
If you do not want to stomp on a spider or cannot reach it, you can use a spider spray. The Terro Spider Killer Aerosol Spray works the same as any other type of insect spray and should eliminate the spider on contact.
However, there might be a situation in which you cannot capture the spider, or maybe you leave town for a while and want to catch some while you are gone. If this is the case, you can try setting Terro Spider And Insect Traps. These are also great for measuring how many spiders might be in your home.
If you are worried about other insects being in your house, setting a trap could trap them as well! You do not need to worry about the trap bothering bigger animals, so unless you have a pet spider, set a few around your home!
Reason 6: Spiders Might Not Experience Fear
Considering we just talked about how spiders experience fear and what they perceive as threats, you might read this title and think we are pulling your leg. After all, why else would we have told you spiders are afraid of their predators?
The reason is that there is not a full scientific consensus about exactly how animals, particularly insects, experience fear. When we talk about how spiders feel fear, we are using human language. This paper, published at the University of Wollongong in Australia, provides an excellent overview of the debate about describing fear and pain insects.
Unless you have some super powers, you probably cannot talk to spiders, so there’s no way of knowing how a spider feels.
Some scientists think all animals, even ones more closely related to humans such as mammals, do not experience fear at all. Other scientists believe animals experience emotions on a more heightened level than humans. Ultimately, we have insufficient information to describe how and what spiders feel.
If you want an expert opinion on spider emotions, ask a biologist. For our purposes, using human language to describe spider behavior can be helpful. While it may not be entirely accurate to describe a spider as feeling fear, it’s something we can all understand.
Overall, it’s getting less and less likely that spiders are scared of humans, but more likely that they’ll try to avoid human contact as much as possible.
After all, how else would explain a spider running off when it sees a human? Unless it’s your pet spider, it’s probably not trying to play a game with you.
Spiders may be more intelligent than we give them credit for. Our article Spiders: How Smart Are They (And Are They Self-Aware?) may give you a bit more insight on the critters crawling around you.
Reason 7: The Spider Might Just Be Pretending To Be Afraid
Let’s assume that spiders feel fear. If they see a human and decide to perceive it as a threat, then they are going to experience fear. However, they might be smart enough to avoid showing it.
Once again, it’s impossible to understand a spider’s thought process. However, spiders have very good survival instincts, and they know if they do not seem threatening, a predator will most likely leave it alone.
The spider might decide to be very still, so you will not see it, or camouflage itself. Keep in mind, we are not a spider’s natural predator. A spider does not know how our brain works or understand our eyes have a better chance of seeing it when it’s camouflaged than one of its natural predators, like an owl.
If the spider does not seem to react to your presence, the spider could be terrified but is trying its hardest not to show it. Of course, you might say this is not a reason a spider is not afraid of a human.
True, but it explains why a spider might not seem like it is afraid of a human, which is the important thing we need to understand if we are trying to keep spiders out of our house. Again, it’s not entirely certain that spiders experience fear, so if you want to learn more about this, talk to a biologist.
Spiders and Fear: In Conclusion
Though there are probably more reasons spiders may or may not be afraid of humans, we have just about exhausted our information on the subject! There’s always more to learn, so if you are curious about spiders or need more tips about keeping them out of the house, check out some of our other articles.
Just to sum things up, spiders and fear, let’s go over the basics. The most important thing is if spiders experience fear, they feel it when they perceive something as a threat. Humans are not natural predators for spiders, so they will not always run off when they see one.
However, if a spider does not take off running as soon as it sees you, it does not mean the spider is not afraid. The spider could just be pretending.
If you have consistent problems with spiders, check with a pest control expert. However, there are many ways to keep spiders from coming into your homes, and we’ve gone over some of the most effective.
In the meantime, thanks for reading! If you do not want to take our word on the subject, here are some sources for more reading!
Davey, Graham C. L. ” The “Disgusting” Spider: The Role of Disease and Illness in the Perpetuation of Fear of Spiders”. Society & Animals 2.1 (1994): 17-25. https://doi.org/10.1163/156853094X00045
Edgar, Walter D. “Prey and predators of the wolf spider Lycosa lugubris.” Journal of Zoology 159.4 (1969): 405-411.
Mike Rinck, Eni S. Becker. “Approach and avoidance in fear of spiders.” Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, Volume 38, Issue 2, 2007, pp 105-120.
Tiffin, Helen. “Do insects feel pain?.” Animal Studies Journal 5.1 (2016): 80-96.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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