Fragments of Spider Lore

Spiders in history


Homeopathic treatment seems to have been much favored in cases of spider bites. Collections of dead spiders have been made because if a person bitten by a spider look at another specimen of the same species he will be cured. Dried spiders have been taken internally for the same purpose.

Spiders as Food

It seems that not every one is afraid of spiders. Lande, the French astronomer, proved by eating spiders as delicacies that he could raise himself above dislikes and prejudices. Spiders were eaten by the aborigines of America and Australia. A quotation from Molien’s Travels in Africa says that the people of Maniana “eat spiders, beetles and old men.”

Doubtless quite a list could be made of uncivilized tribes that eat spiders and there is a number of recorded instances of more advanced persons who, like Lande have acquired the habit. One is given in verse:

How early Genius shows itself at times,
Thus Pope, the prince of poets, lisped in rhymes,
And our Sir Joshua Banks, most strange to utter,
      To whom each cockroach-eater is a fool,
      Did, when a very little boy at school,
Eat Spiders, spread upon his bread and butter.

Economic Value of Spiders

It is undoubtedly true that spiders catch and kill many injurious insects. In the fields good insects suffer with the bad, but as few good insects find their way into our houses the house spiders are almost entirely beneficial. However, since spiders are not encouraged to live in our houses it is doubtful whether the group as a whole helps us greatly in our fight against injurious insects.

The strong supporting threads of cobwebs have been much used in telescopes for the purpose of making fine lines appear in the field of vision.

Silk spun by spiders to cover their eggs has been woven into cloth. It is said that the fabric is so transparent that a young lady was once reproved by her father for the immodesty of her costume although she wore seven thicknesses of it. Since it requires more than half a million egg-masses to yield a pound of silk the industry does not promise to become commercially profitable.

Related link:

Rare Spider Silk Textile Now on View at the American Museum of Natural History

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