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The Verge Review of Animals: spiders

The Verge Review of Animals: spiders

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Spider on web
Amith Nag / Shutterstock

This column is part of a series where Verge staffers post highly subjective reviews of animals. Up until now, we’ve written about animals without telling you whether they suck or rule. We are now rectifying this oversight.

Spiders are the earthly manifestation of true evil and should not be misjudged. They prey on fear and the dreams of innocents, and they want nothing more than to crawl on you and be ridiculously gross. They have eight legs, according to Wikipedia, and that's really disgusting.

I first discovered spiders as a child and, like most people, immediately understood how terrible these creatures can be. What has surprised me is that, with age, we are expected to face these monsters without fear and conquer them in battle. I understand the need for this — spiders thrive on fear, and we should avoid giving it to them — but there are alternatives, like throwing a shoe at them from across the room, where they cannot detect that you are afraid.

Some will argue that spiders are, in fact, awesome. These people are mad and cannot be trusted (my apologies to the entire Verge science team). I will repeat some of their arguments here so that you can understand the absurd lengths they go to defend these horrors:

  • Spiders eat other pests, like mosquitoes, flies, and cockroaches
  • Their silk is really strong
  • Their venom may have medical applications
  • They inspire great movies, like Spider-Man 3 and whatever it is Andrew Garfield did
  • That last one isn't a real argument, but I had to stop reading informational websites after seeing too many freaky pics

I'll admit that some of these arguments have legs. Spider-Man 1 and 2 are okay. And the fact that spiders kill other pests (including other spiders!) is a pretty big deal. For one, roaches are also really gross. And more importantly, killing other pests can make them helpful to some farmers and useful for fighting the spread of diseases.

These are hard facts to argue against, but I stand by my analysis. At their core, spiders are calculating and cruel. Their method of catching and eating prey is basically insect torture. Here's how the Burke Museum describes it:

You will see the spider bite the prey, wrap it in silk, wait for it to die, then begin to eat. As a first step in eating, the spider will literally vomit digestive fluid over the prey. Then the prey is chewed with the "jaws" (chelicerae), and the fluid is sucked back into the mouth together with some liquefied "meat" from the prey. The spider repeats this process as often as necessary to digest, and ingest, all but the inedible hard parts.

This is horrifying.

Spiders' evil is so well known that most people can rattle off a list of famously terrible varieties. There's the brown recluse, whose bite can destroy tissue and eat away at your body. There's the black widow, whose bite can kill. There's this disturbingly giant thing that EATS BIRDS. And there's of course Shelob, the giant spider living in the Ephel Dúath mountains who was essentially an alley of Sauron. I feel like my case is rested.

A lot of people tell me that I'm being arachnophobic, but that's not true. Arachnophobia is defined as having an irrational fear of spiders. But my fear is perfectly rational: they are super gross, and I don't want them anywhere near me.


Verge Score: 6.66


Verge Score

Good Stuff

  • Kill cockroaches

  • Kill other spiders

  • Tobey Maguire's career

Bad Stuff

  • Evil

  • Gross

  • Eight legs