We have noticed that there are a lot of news articles recently that are making people more scared of spiders. There seems to be an increase in sightings of false widow spiders in the UK. This may be true or it just might be that people are scared and watching out for them due to the media hype touting them as a severe threat. One such article in the Daily Mail by Steven Nolan and Martin Robson (warning contains some graphic images and pictures of spiders) gives readers an unbalanced view of the actual threat that spiders cause us humans.
Stuart Hine from the Natural History Museum, London has responded to the recent spate of reports on false on the naturenet blog, stating, 'Of course I also explain the great value of spiders and how rare the event of spider bite in the UK actually is. I also always explain that up to 12 people die from wasp/bee stings in the UK each year and we do not panic so much about wasps and bees – but this never makes it past editing.'
Steven Falk, an entomologist cautioned that without 'hard evidence', it is difficult to know how many of the bites reported in the media have been caused by false widow spiders. Greg Hitchock, who is a conservation officer at the Kent Wildlife Trust, has claimed a bite from a false widow is ‘no more dangerous than eating a peanut’. A new study published in the Journal of Accident Analysis and Prevention shows that injuries to pedestrians distracted by using mobile phones increased between 2004 and 2010. We searched the weeks newspaper headlines and couldn't find anything about mobile phones that kill.
Clearly, there are risks with most things in life. The important thing is for the media to present a balanced view of the actual risk (which is minimal) of injuries due to spiders and not publish articles that make the public view spiders as killers. At this rate the report is probably causing more harm than the spiders ever will.
So go ahead and confront your fear. If you need an incentive you could sign up for our joint campaign with Anxiety UK to help you confront you fear and raise money the charity needs to continue its excellent work. Follow this link to learn more.