It is commonly heard that a spider can crawl into our mouth while we are sleeping, and that we can actually eat that spider without taking notice of it. Brenda Gilmore, expert in spider bites and arachnids in general, sheds some light on this subject during the interview published below - all for the sake of our sleep.
Interviewer: Tell us, Brenda, how many people have asked you about the chance of eating a spider while sleeping in your whole career?
B. Gilmore: A LOT. It is in fact a frequent subject, and people's minds are very eager to believe and fear such things.
Interviewer: But why? Does it happen frequently? Have people been intoxicated or something?
B. Gilmore: I will tell you this: every night, there are at least 5 billion people who rest in their beds in the whole world, and even a bigger number of spiders which "work" at the same time. My answer is really a question: how many people do you know to have suddenly woken up with a spider trying to get into their mouths?
Interviewer: (laughs) I don't know a single person, but still the subject worries everyone.
B. Gilmore: Yes. I think that the Internet has something to do with this myth, and the stories that are spread by word of mouth. Yet, no one ever gets to meet the actual people who suffered such an incident.
Interviewer: I understand. Still, the matter did not come out of nowhere...
B. Gilmore: Well... It is not impossible for such a thing to happen, but it is quite improbable. First of all, the mouth is very sensitive: the tongue, for example, is one of the most sensitive parts of our body. Imagine that something, not a spider but any insect, a cockroach, whatever you like...
Interviewer: Rather dislike...
B. Gilmore: (smiling) Yes, that is the exact point… something that is surely not a part of the bed or our body, something with razor parts, pin like legs, hair...
Interviewer: Oh God!
B. Gilmore: (smiling widely) Yes, but that is the point. When such a thing enters your mouth, it is automatically expelled by an unconscious defense mechanism. You would probably shut your mouth, turn your head away, move or use your hand to push that thing back, or even wake up at that very instant. But… chew it? Swallow it? Not a chance.
Interviewer: I see.
B. Gilmore: And I tell you this: spiders are not stupid. Ok, they are not clever, but they are clever enough to avoid a humid hole which is breathing. They do not enter the mouths of animals in the wilderness; neither do they enter the mouths of humans. They are trying to get their food, and so they tend to go to the light at night where insects gather, instead of going to dark, wet places such as mouths.
Interviewer: And that's fine for me.
B. Gilmore: If someone goes and puts food in your mouth while you are sleeping, do you think you will swallow it without waking up?
Interviewer: If it were chocolate, perhaps.
B. Gilmore: Oh, I didn't know you like it (laughing).
Interviewer: What can I say? I've got it under my skin.
B. Gilmore: Well, maybe I will try the experiment on you if I catch you sleeping.
Interviewer: is that a date? (laughs).