Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Spider behavior

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Question
Hello, I have an odd question about spider behavior. I live in central Alberta Canada, as a young child We moved around alot. I can only recall one home where i was bit constantly by a spider that took up home in my room. Since then when we move to new homes I may get bit once but never more BUT no matter where I go I find spiders are constantly attracted to me but don't bite me. If there's a spider in my room it will often run up and down my legs at night. Usually it's while I'm resting or sleeping and they don't seem to bite me it will just run back and forth on my legs. The spiders in the houses are usually just common brown/black house spiders. Nasty things I don't like spiders at all. Is this normal for them to do? Why do they do it?

Answer
Kimberley:

None of the events you describe sound like "normal" spider behavior to me.  Forgive me, but I do wonder if your body was simply *perceiving* that these things were happening.  *That* is not a terribly unusual thing, but when entomologists suggest it as a possibility, we often get a response that suggests we think the person is "crazy."  Not so.  I know my own body perceives crawling sensations now and then, in the absence of any insect or other creature.

"Spider bites" are rather rare, and more often than not, unless you see the arachnid biting, are the manifestation of some other affliction.  I understand that ingrown hairs are one of the leading causes of "spider bites," for example.

Since spiders are predators of insects, and vulnerable to any organisms larger than they are, they are certainly not "attracted" to people.  Most don't see very well, though, and may interpret any large object as a place to explore for potential insect prey.

Thank you for this question, I hope my answers have helped a little.  Take care.

Eric  

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton

Expertise

I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.

Experience

Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Publications
Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Education/Credentials
Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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