Fear of spiders is one of the most common phobias. But why, in countries with few or no indigenous spiders poisonous enough to do any harm, should this fear be present?
Usually this would be explained away by mere instinct. We are told that early humans had fear of predators from birth as a survival tactic, and this remains programmed into us to the present day.
But if this were true, why is fear of sharks, tigers and snakes not equally prevalent? In fact, fear of not just spiders but insects in general is one of the top phobias in the world.
Let’s break this down. What exactly is it about creepy-crawlies that people dislike? It’s not fear of being bitten. It’s the way they move; skittish, disjointed and clunky; the sheer look of the things. Too many parts that shouldn’t be there and not enough that should… Like knees. How many joints does a spider have? It’s unnatural. And unfair. I mean, think of the poor giraffes. Don’t they deserve some more knees?
People are not scared of spiders because of any real or imagined threat. We are bigger and scarier and more capable of squishing them with large objects. No, it is the very injustice of the thing. They are ridiculously over-equipped. Do spiders really need 27 eyes? Or multiple mandibles? Or all those knees?