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Thanks to popular culture, there is a long-held belief that people swallow multiple spiders every year while they are sleeping. To many, this sounds absolutely horrifying, but there's no need to worry. It's essentially an urban legend. As Rod Crawford from the University of Washington’s Burke Museum states, “For a sleeping person to swallow even one live spider would involve so many highly unlikely circumstances that for practical purposes we can rule out the possibility. No such case is on formal record anywhere in scientific or medical literature.”
Not only would a spider find a big, slumbering human intimidating, but a person would more than likely jolt awake at the sensation of eight tiny legs crawling on their skin. Spiders generally go out of their way to avoid contact with humans. They seclude themselves in corners and like to inhabit areas where people don’t normally spend a lot of time, like basements and attics.
However, although we aren't swallowing spiders in our sleep, we do consume tiny bugs such as dust mites and insect parts in our food. Crops will always have insects on them, so the things we eat will always contain tiny amounts of insect parts. The FDA controls the quantity allowed in each food item, but it may surprise you to learn that we actually consume up to two pounds (0.9 kg) of bug parts annually.
My spider sense is tingling:
- Spiders play a significant role in our environment by keeping the population of many pests in check.
- Carmine, a red dye found in cochineal beetles, was once used by major companies like Starbucks
- Oregano contains the highest amount of bug parts allowed in foods by the FDA.