My wife and I had a debate last night on the back of me having to catch and set free 4 massive house spiders over the course of two weeks. My twitter stream was also full of people mentioning the fact that they’d seen huge spiders and the debate we had was around whether or not we should go out and gather some conkers!
My opinion is that the ability of conkers to deter spiders is an old myth. But why would people think they had any effect in the first place?
Using what people search for on the internet provides compelling evidence…
So every year people search for spiders around the same time (May – June and then a big peak in September). This years peak is particularly high, reflecting the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had in the UK which is encouraging spiders to come out and find mates.
So far so good, but what about the conkers? Well…
The red line represents searches for ‘conkers’ and at first glance there is indeed a correlation between the two search terms but take a closer look….
And you can see that as searches for conkers are peaking, the spiders are declining i.e. By the time of year that conkers fall to the ground comes around, spiders naturally stop mating and so are seen less.
So it’s easy to see why people would have thought that the conkers they had brought into their houses were keeping the spiders away, confusing correlation with causation and hence the birth of an old wives tale.
Note: Despite the above evidence, we’re still going out to try and find some conkers tonight.
- Spiders invade – this means war! (alisonharmer.wordpress.com)