Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

…is to take the Fear of Spiders Questionnaire, and report your score here (or if you’re shy, email it.) It’s not long, just one page with a bunch of true/false questions.

I’m just curious about the number and intensity of arachnophobes in the audience here.

I failed the exam with a score of 0.0. Can you do better?


  1. says

    4.0 for me, probably because I said FALSE to the one about having no fear whatever of a non-poisonous spider. I needed a fractional answer there.
    I’m the house go-to guy for spiders, and instead of killing them, I persuade them to crawl into a foot-long cardboard tube, which I then point outside and puff the spider out.
    (And I’d be interested to know if this is bad for the spiders, because I’m not in this to hurt them, just to put them where my wife and daughter won’t want to bludgeon them to death from their own fear.)

  2. says

    …oh, but I much prefer doing this as a True-False quiz than I would have assigning numbers to every emotion and reflex, so better not to change a thing than go that way.

  3. fredbrehm says

    Score is 1.0. Maybe I got the “pretty spider” question wrong (I said there is none). Is there a pretty spider?

  4. anxionnat says

    I failed the sucker too. 0.0. Oh, well. The weird thing is the survey didn’t ask if, when I have hallucinations, do spiders appear. I do have bad reactions to medications sometimes. I always know if I’m hallucinating when I see tarantulas climbing up and down my bookcase. That is not scary, precisely, but rather–umm, disconcerting. I told my neurologist this, and she said I should pick the spiders up and move them outside. Well, not .when I’m unable to stand up, I won’t. When the medication reaction stops, I won’t need to. (shrug.)

  5. waydude says

    Do I win? What do I win? IS it a spider? It’s a spider right? It’s… it’s right behind me isn’t it.

  6. anxionnat says

    Is there a pretty spider? Well South American tarantulas are quite beautiful, I think, with their orange knees.

  7. rpjohnston says

    I don’t kill spiders because the last thing I want is to have spider essence smeared all over me and everything that can’t be washed out and will take days to fade.

  8. jackal says

    4.0. I think spiders are cool and useful, but the thought of touching them gives me the heebie jeebies.

  9. John Small Berries says

    0.0? So you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable at the thought that, if the spider hadn’t been quick enough to vacate your shoe in time, you would have heedlessly crushed the poor thing with your foot?

    You monster.

  10. rpjohnston says

    Though I don’t know the scale here so the number doesn’t mean much.

    @4: Jumping spiders are pretty cute. Still would rather not touch one but they aren’t very creepy. Typical fat-legged pet tarantlas aren’t too creepy either – still don’t want contact, but I can appreciate them from behind a plate of glass.

  11. rpjohnston says

    Wait, I said i got 19, in my first post. why did it nuke the number I got? What the hell?

  12. Kevin Dugan says

    1.0. I feel like most of these questions needed a scaled answer. Like a good Baysian, I asked myself is it mostly true/false. I still fight the creepies when a spider crawls on me. Generally I’m slightly more anxious around centipedes/millipedes. And getting unexpectedly webbed in the face will definitely give me the heebie-jeebies. Other than that, I find them fascinating.

  13. Ulgaa says

    27.0 Which I know is bad, but thank you for the banana question. That one I didn’t know about, so another thing to my list. Education and exposure to spiders has not helped in any way.

  14. John Morales says

    I scored 5, which is rather silly.

    So, for example, to the proposition that “Spiders are sometimes useful.” I responded ‘False’, since the questionnaire asked me to “indicate whether it is true (yes) or false (no) for you.”
    (I’ve never found them useful for me, but how does that supposedly indicate fear?)

    Or, another: “I don’t mind being near a harmless spider if there is someone there in whom I have confidence.” I responded ‘True’, but that should not imply I would mind otherwise, either.

    Or another: “Spider webs are very artistic.” Sheesh. Obviously, they don’t do art, being spiders and all. But I reckon that answering ‘False’ to that got me another point.


  15. opposablethumbs says

    I got 3. I am the spider-remover-and-taker-outside in this household; they’re ok but I wouldn’t want one on my pillow.

  16. says

    1.0 Spiders are cool, but sometimes creepy. I prefer them to be outside my primary living space. I’ll happily watch them out in the yard, though!

  17. Saganite, a haunter of demons says

    5.0, but many of these questions are difficult to answer for me because I’m not afraid of spiders, I think – depending on the way they look – that they are icky. I don’t run from spiders, I catch-and-release or squash/flush them. I don’t like them, but I don’t fear them. The questionnaire is more about outright fear, it seems.

  18. Rob Grigjanis says

    I don’t get the “spiders are creepy” thing. To me, their motion is exquisitely graceful. And eight legs is just about not too many. All very personal, of course.

  19. says

    1.0, but I waffled on 2 questions (including the “artistic” webs one) and could easily have scored slightly higher.

    The other question I waffled on was “I have no fear of non-poisonous spiders”. The thing is I do have fear of them, because I’m too ignorant of spiders to know in advance which ones are the poisonous (to humans) ones. So on a practical level I fear the non-poisonous ones (a tiny amount, but it’s still fear on a true/false measure), but answered that I have no fear of them because it’s my ignorance about whether they might be venomous that is the source of the fear. I really wasn’t sure of the most appropriate answer there.

    Regardless, my fear of spiders is low, but not zero, so the test got that right. In particular, I can get freaked out when I feel something crawling on me and I don’t know what it is. Sometimes I react with a start if the first feeling of the crawly-thing is near my eye (b/c I couldn’t feel it crawling on my hair) or my neck. Otherwise, even a sudden crawly feeling is going to be merely uncomfortable enough to (mostly) calmly brush something away, not enough to make me react in any sudden/major way.

  20. says

    @4 fredbrehm

    Heck yes. Look at this peacock spider for example. Other peacock spiders have whole rainbows and other pretty features. Plus, they’re Salticidae, which family in general has the most adorable spiders, especially those tiny zebra-striped ones.

    I sometimes feel bad for those guys because most spiders don’t understand that large creatures are creatures, they sort of respond to us as really active landscape – but the zebra-backed spiders (and I think Salticidae in general) can see us and know we’re watching. You can make eye contact with them, which means they understand they are being watched by something THOUSANDS OF TIMES THEIR SIZE. Like Mt. Fuji stood up and gave you the hairy eyeball.

  21. opposablethumbs says

    They’re useful to me, I’m happy to have more spiders and fewer flies and mosquitoes :-)

    I think the artistic could be “they look good in my photographs glistening with dew at sunrise” etc. rather than “spider-as-artist”. But I do think several of the questions could do with re-phrasing.

  22. says

    it showed me 1.0.
    But I live in a country that has no dangerous spiders

    also I sometimes feel uncomfortable when I am surprised by spider crawling on me or just ina first moment when I spot some spiders.

  23. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Big fat goose egg (0). Both my wife and I think spiders are cool. I won’t kill one unless it is venomous–and then only if it poses a threat to my cats or dogs and I can’t get it outside.

  24. says

    I have arachnophobia, but it has been mitigated over time. I can appreciate spiders rationally and academically, but I still have an uncontrolled fear response to them. Usually it is ignorable, less so with size, proximity and unexpectedness. I did handle a tarantula in biology class, for about 3 seconds. I was shaking a little afterwards. Had I not had several minutes to mentally steel myself and simply found one being placed on me I would have reacted violently, as I have when I bumbled into a sizable orb weavers web I had not noticed and found the yellow, white and black spider crawling up my chest. I don’t follow through on the spider keeping posts here and often skip quickly past the spider pictures on affinity.

  25. stormcloak says


    My reaction to spiders depends on what they look like and where I meet them – I have no problems with very tiny spiders or with those longlegged small-bodied spiders that like to live in the corners of houses. They can live there happily as far as I am concerned. I also don’t have a problem with PZ’s spider blog posts. Those spiders are kinda cute.

    Bigger spiders (bigger bodies that is) I do have an issue with and I need them removed. I’m trying to take them outside because I don’t want to kill them, but I’m making slow progress. I have learned to touch them with a long stick or broom or something similar to get them out of a window. But I cannot carry them or get near them.
    If I meet those spiders outside however, I don’t mind that much. I used to live next to a wooden bridge over a small river, the bridge having lights under both handrails which made it a paradise for a certain kind of spider (no idea which ones, but they had pretty big bodies with relatively small legs) and I enjoyed standing there at night and just watching them. From a safe distance of course.

    Very big spiders like tarantulas – no thanks, I’m running.

  26. says

    Mine was 1.0. I think it was the question about a spider in my shoe. It would just be a surprise but I think my answer was counted as fear.

  27. says

    John Small Berries, you mean there’s another interpretation of that one?

    Huh. Well, that’s another point worth. No disambiguation between possible reasons for discomfort leads the results astray.

    Pretty much all I want from spiders most days is not to trick me into killing them accidentally, not to present themselves to the rest of the household (who will call for me), and not to touch me unexpectedly. Okay, no fatal bites either, but I consider that a given.

  28. neptis says

    but I guess that was to be expected. My living arrangement with spiders is “you can do whatever you want in ny place (but if you walk across my face at night, I will gently put you outside)”

    But I am still wondering how much of this stuff is taught. I was visiting my brother’s family recently, and his wife pretty much encouraged their girl to see spiders as yucky and scream and overreact and at the same time expected the boy to show no fear and “save” the womenfolk from the evil critters. Stupid gender role crap.

  29. says

    28 Abbeycadabra
    Oh, mannnnn! That’s the living end. I get the impression its mating cry is “Hey! Hey!! Over here!” and then it just makes beatbox noises. In fact, I now wonder if the sound track I was hearing before I turned it down was the actual spider.
    After filming the spider tells another spider “I swear, they are totally impervious to intelligent conversation! I was wig-wagging the times tables in semaphore for an hour, and they just kept saying ‘oh wow man.'”

  30. says

    I got a 12. I hate to get near spiders, but images don’t really bother me.

    Funny to see the item about caterpillars and millipedes. My mother would always laugh at our arachnophobia, but then she was scared of caterpillars.

  31. killyosaur says

    1.0, shoe thing. There were a few I would have been more towards indifference (which I chose the affirmatives for as I kinda could guess what that would do to my score). I agree with those who said some of the questions needed to be weighted. Some of the questions begged a bit too much as well…

  32. Dunc says

    0 here. I’ve had to knock some pretty large spiders out of my boots. I once had to use a pressure cooker to catch and relocate a huntsman because none of the other pots or pans were big enough… I did get pretty freaked out once when I found a large spider in one of my socks – by putting it on. Not as freaked out as the spider, mind you…

    Yes, I did spend time in Australia. How did you guess?

  33. says

    2.0. One point was definitively for not being totaly comfortable with handling spiders, even harmless ones. The other I do not remember. But the questions are framed dubiously and have more answers than true/false. for example I would not feel comfortable sleeping with a spider over my bed, but I would not need anyone to kill it – I would scoop it in a glass with a piece of paper and toss it out of the door or window.

  34. says

    1., which was probably a very badly worded question
    “I don’t mind being near a harmless spider if there is someone there in whom I have confidence.”
    I mean, that’s true, because the first part is true regardless of the second part.
    What I learned from this questionnaire is that the people who created it are not very good at making questionnaires.

  35. chrislawson says

    4 (not sure why there’s a “.0” on the end of every answer; too many significant figures!!!)

    As for beautiful spiders, I’ve always found the small green jumping spiders pretty to look at. I don’t even mind having them on my hands. (They’re tiny, around 1cm across, and have very watchable movements.)

    And then there is the well-known genus of peacock spiders, which I think anyone but the worst arachnophobe would find beautiful.

    Finally, although they’re kind of ugly-beautiful, I do like the golden orb spiders that live around my part of the world. Although they’re large spiders, they’re incredibly slow moving and non-aggressive (a webbed insect might disagree with me on that point). If you look closely at a golden orb web, you will sometimes find a few glancing shimmers that look like drops of molten silver moving around the web. Quite enchanting when the sunlight catches them. These are tiny silver teardrop spiders and they are “kleptoparasites”, that is, they take food trapped in the golden orb’s web (usually smaller insects the golden orb spider can’t be bothered with, but they have been observed to steal food from a golden orb’s mouth while it’s feeding!).

  36. Onamission5 says

    I got a 6.0. If I have visual conformation that spiders are in my vicinity I prefer to have a bit of distance and will keep an eye on them. No turning my back to the orb weaver in the corner if there’s a risk of it falling down the back of my shirt! The bigger and more mobile the spider, the more true this is and the more distance I prefer. Under no circumstances would I voluntarily touch a spider with my skin, but spiders are useful (that is, beneficial) and sometimes quite pretty to look at.

    I’m the resident critter remover in my home for everything but large roaming spiders which I can’t bring myself within two feet of. I’ve tried. I shook and cried. Can’t explain it. I have zero issues catching any kind of spider that’s an inch or less across but anything larger and I’m stuck outside the large spider anti-human force field. Coming across a big ole trapdoor wolf spider covered in babies in my kitchen at 2 in the morning was what first brought that on. Prior, I’d probably have said spiders were fine so long as they didn’t manifest in my clothing or bed. I can now appreciate the large ones at a distance of about 3 feet but closing the gap to 2 feet makes me anxious.

  37. nomdeplume says

    I got 1.0, because the question about whether I feared spiders more than the average person was so badly worded that after reading it several times I still had no idea how a spider-loving person could answer!

  38. m n says

    15.0… I had a wolf spider fall out of a doorframe down my bikini when I was 13 or so and tbh I just haven’t been fond of them since then ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    Like, objectively they’re cool but subjectively I do not want them near me.

  39. Onamission5 says

    Oh, and while I can admire a specific spider in my presence, I am discomforted by photos of spiders, particularly if they are macro. Not enough to avoid using the internet to identify unknown ones, but enough that I have to do it in fits and spurts and even so I still get the buggies.

    I feel similarly about snakes, fwiw.

  40. jazzlet says

    8.0 Generally ok if they keep their distance, stay in their web or walk round the edge of the ceiling, I’d rather not have a large one immeditely overhead. I have an instinctive shriek reaction if I come across one unexpectedly, and a full bodied scream reaction if I for example find one of those wolf spiders on my neck; it still gives me a shudder thinking about brushing away what I thought was an errant strand of hair and finding a large spider in my hand, which promptly got thrown across the room :-(

  41. jazzlet says

    Oh and I am interested in reading non-fiction about them, even seeing videos like yours PZ.

  42. charley says

    1 for me, but my wife posted a close-up of an interesting spider on Insta yesterday, and her followers had a fit. “I’d rather find a clown under my bed,” said one. There are definitely people who would appreciate a warning before viewing such an image.

  43. errg says

    I got 1.0, and I’m pretty sure my one transgression was that I said I wouldn’t like a spider crawling out of my shoe before I put it on…

  44. Elaine Watkins says

    10.0. I would never “embrace” spiders, but am far less fearful of them than during my teen years. I think spending one summer at camp in a very, ah, porous cabin cured me. A few years ago there was a spider in my bathtub, attempting to scale the side and escape. It kept going all night and I found it still trying the next morning. I named it “Mayo-naise” after the Navy plebe in “An Officer and a Gentleman” who was trying to “walk that wall.” I put him in a plastic cup and let him go outside. Hope he got where he wanted to go. And hope this doesn’t offend you, PZ, but I still find Richard Gere to be far better looking than a spider.

  45. says

    My first thought on seeing a spider come out of a shoe might be that it was a scorpion. Those I grew up being worried about when we visited grandparents in Texas. Gotta check the shoes before you put ’em on, every morning. Only found one once that way, but it’s enough.

  46. monad says

    I don’t like the idea of spiders in my shoes that might be squished if I put them on. I don’t really like poking dead things with sticks in general, it makes me feel weird. Unless I was in serious need, I’d rather not take a shortcut through an underpass if I thought it would be full of spiders, because that would get me messy and wreck their homes all at once. I guess mild arachnophobia includes fear of bothering harmless spiders?

  47. rpjohnston says

    @33 I’ve been fortunately enough to never stumble directly into an occupied spider web, but I’ll occasionally walk into one of those invisible random strands and spend several seconds checking myself to be sure, then spend several minutes trying to shake off the feeling of contamination. I can sit through the spider videos – they’re skeevy as hell, but the fact that it’s a video is enough to keep me calm, and the content is interesting.

    @34 – ugh, those house spiders are the Worst. I’ve made a tenuous peace with the wolf spider that inhabits my space (I stay several feet from it at all times), but damn anything that tries to spin a web.

    @41: Oh, caterpillars are cool. Over here we get the eastern tent caterpillars, aka “webworms”. In some places and tiems they can swarm like cicadas. I often try to pick them up – some are swole and firm and thrash about, and others feel like a tub of limp spaghetti and are almost catatonic. I sometimes find centipedes at work, and back when I used to dick around in the bish sometimes I’d find inch-long millipedes. None of those are uncool.

    @44: Well I’d be out for a few days if that ever happened.

  48. SchreiberBike says

    8.0 I can be rational about spiders, but I do have an irrational discomfort around them. I can’t deny it.

  49. DonDueed says

    My score was 3, but I felt the quiz needed a third option — perhaps Agree, Neutral, and Disagree. I’m not sure how much my score would have changed, though, since some of my anti-spider answers would have gone to neutral, and maybe a couple pro-spider answers would too.

  50. forgotmygingko says

    Utterly failed it with 0.0

    We have a strict no-kill policy at our house when it comes to spiders. Far more helpful than harmful.

  51. vucodlak says

    I can tolerate pictures, though I’d rather not encounter them without warning, and I can tolerate limited video exposure. It doesn’t bother me to read about them, so long as the text isn’t illustrated. I won’t willingly touch one, and I won’t touch anything that seems likely to contain spiders without thick leather gloves on. Gloves that I’ve gone over with a rolling pin, just in case. Every time I find one in my bed, I seriously contemplate burning it. The bed, I mean. I keep an eye on the ceilings, always, and I go through any seldom-trafficked areas hands first, so that I don’t run into a spider web.

    As for neptis’ pondering at #38, my fear certainly wasn’t taught. No one else in my family is particularly bothered by spiders. They’re almost all deathly afraid of snakes (my mom, paternal grandmother, and maternal grandfather), or else just plain hate them (my dad). I am not bothered by them, and I only kill venomous snakes if they pose a danger to my dog or children. I like the garter snakes that often tenant my garden, though I was once a little disconcerted to find one resting amid my pole beans at roughly chest-height. I stepped through the leaves, and there was a snake less than a foot away. I told him (I’m reasonably sure it was a he, based on coloring and size) that he was naughty snake, and put off harvesting beans ‘til the next day. The next day I was relieved to see him back on the ground. Good snake.

    The thing about my arachnophobia is that it’s not like the things I merely fear. It’s a sick, almost paralyzing fear that I feel whenever I might possibly be touched by a spider. It doesn’t matter if the spider can hurt me or not- I can’t bear to be touched by one, period, and I will react in absolute panic if I think a spider is touching, or about to touch, me.

    The only thing that’s worse for me is ticks. I once, at age 12, came very close to being hauled into the hospital for an involuntary psych hold after finding a tick crawling on me. This was after prolonged exposure to a variety of loud insects buzzing me and biting me- the loud buzzing upset me more than the bites; I have a little difficulty processing sounds. I ran back to the car, strapped myself into the passenger seat, and that’s when I felt it. A tick was crawling up my arm. I panicked of course, and knocked it off my arm into the car. I knew it wasn’t dead, and I had no idea where it was. So, naturally, I began screaming at the top of my lungs.

    My grandmother, who I’d been fishing at this little spot of crawling, buzzing hell with, was frantically asking me what was wrong. I tried to explain: “A tick was crawling on me, and I knocked it off, and now I don’t know where it is,” but I couldn’t stop screaming, or get my brain to work enough to form a proper sentence, so what came out was: “TTTTTTTIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKK TIIIIIIIICCCKKKKKKKK TTTIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICCCCKKKK! IIIITTT’SSSSSS AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH TIIIIIIIIICCCCCCCKKKK AAAAAAHHHH TIIIICCKK!” …at roughly 120 decibels. I was generally a quiet child, and not at all given to screaming fits, so she was understandably freaked out (and completely unable to parse my nonsensical screaming). I calmed down once I triggered my asthma and couldn’t move enough air to talk anymore, let alone scream.

    0-to-6 legs good, 7-or-more bad. I’m not afraid of insects unless they buzz. It doesn’t bother me to find something like an ant or a beetle crawling on me.

  52. ridana says

    Probably should’ve been a 6, but since I live alone, I can’t wait for someone to come kill a spider over my bed. My dislike of ceiling spiders is imagining them dropping down into my ear while I sleep. This is not an unfounded fear, as the lamp hanging over my bed seems to be a spider nursery, and I have spiderlings parachuting down about every other day.

    Now if this had been about house centipedes, I’d probably have gotten a 30 or whatever the high score is. Those are the spawn of Satan and the plague of my childhood. One of the most traumatizing events of my youth was seeing one on the wall of my room heading toward my favorite poster. I knew if it got behind it, it would use its satanic powers to teleport away and I’d never know when or where it would reappear (experience had taught me that merely glancing away was enough time for them to activate their portals to hell). In pure adrenaline fueled panic I smashed it with my hand, and had twitchy centipede legs and guts on my palm (and on the wall), and like Lady Macbeth could not wash away that damned spot for a long time.

    The fear has lessened a bit over the years, but fortunately they seem to be a rarity where I live now, so I can go years without seeing one, instead of it being a nearly daily occurrence. But I still get the willies even looking at pictures of them.

  53. vahnrpg says

    I got a 7.0. I have no idea if that’s good or bad, but the questionnaire was a bit heavy with its loaded questions.
    “If there is a spider on the ceiling over my bed, I cannot go to sleep unless someone kills it for me.” If I say true, then I’m confirming the statement, obviously. If I say false, does that mean I can’t go to sleep even if someone kills it for me?
    “I enjoy watching spiders build their webs.” Not really. I find it boring, not because I’m afraid of them…
    “I enjoy reading articles about spiders.” Again, not really, for the same reasons above
    “I don’t mind being near a harmless spider if there is someone there in whom I have confidence.” This one is the big one. It’s extremely “Have you stopped beating your wife?” If I say true, then I’m essentially saying that’s the only time I can be near a spider. If I say false, I can’t go near spiders even if I’m with someone else…
    “I am cautious when buying fruit because bananas may attract spiders.” Again if I say true I’m confirming, but if I say false then I’m not cautious regardless of bananas flirting with spiders???
    “Spider webs are very artistic.” Again, boring, but no ‘meh’ option.
    “Not only am I afraid of spiders but millipedes and caterpillars make me feel anxious.” Here’s another ‘beating your’ question. I’m not afraid of spiders, but if I answer false then i’m afraid of spiders but those 2 don’t bother me??

    On a side note, “I would prefer not to finish a story if something about spiders was introduced into the plot.” I genuinely feel sorry for someone who would answer ‘true’ to this one :'(

  54. Ewout says


    The spiders around here are perfectly harmless and they eat the more annoying insects. They provide a service as far as I’m concerned.

  55. kestrel says

    2.0. I think they are interesting creatures and like learning about them, but I disapprove of large ones moving into my house. I live right next to a national forest; not like there’s no spider habitat around here, the small ones are fine but the big ones can just stay outside, thank you very much. Therefore they are moved outside upon being seen inside. Not killed though; big spiders are cool.

  56. kb92 says

    I got 7! I leave small corner spiders alone, and I can catch (or squash) larger spiders that are in my house all by myself, but it takes me a few tries to psych myself up to it. I can enter my apartment at a normal pace even though there’s a big spider living over the doorway, but I can’t stand right underneath it.

  57. hootsmctaverna says

    3.0 here. If a spider falls out of my shoe I am absolutely proceeding with some caution. If I was somewhere without poisonous spiders then I might have answered differently.

    And I don’t think I see spiderwebs as ‘artistic’ in the sense that they mean. Sometimes beautiful, elaborate and well constructed in a functional way perhaps?

  58. rpjohnston says

    @76, in the last sentence: That one made me think of kekkaishi, and one of my favorite villains in that anime is spider-themed. She’s humanoid, with a web-patterned kimono, she controls spiders, she is VERY spidery. It’s kind of a dual thing for me – I LOVE spider themed things, but actual spiders themselves, no way.

  59. Mark Johnston says

    7.0 But in my defense, I live in a rural area and we do have lots of Black Widows.

  60. says

    6.0 Spiders outside my bedroom are fine, if a little skin-crawling, but if one gets within ten feet of my bed it dies. I do my own spider killing though.

  61. says

    This question annoys me greatly: “I don’t mind being near a harmless spider if there is someone there in whom I have confidence.” [True / False]

    I don’t mind being near a harmless spider REGARDLESS of whether someone else is present. So how should I answer this?

  62. uusuzanne says

    1.0 for me. Although I do not especially like large spiders with hairy legs. I answered the questions assuming we were talking about smallish soiders.

  63. says

    16.0 for me. So I’m well below “spider phobics before treatment” (mean 23.2) but well above “non phobics” (mean 2.7) – right near “spider phobics after treatment” (mean 14.2). I’ve never been treated (it’s not bad enough to really interfere with my life) so if I did get treated, maybe it would be even lower.

  64. says

    @87 True. The person is an irrelevance, you’re fine regardless.

    The one I had problems with was the one about the spider on the ceiling. That spider will die before my head touches the pillow, but I do my own wet work.

  65. fozollie says

    0.0 – I live in the rainforest in Brazil and get tarantulas in the house fairly regularly – I just scoop them up in a mug and toss them out over the garden fence. However there is one spider I do kill if I find it around the house – the Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria nigriventer), but only because it is seriously deadly and I have a six and eight year old playing in the garden regularly.

  66. voyager says

    I scored a 2.0. One point for the shoe thing, although I don’t know why really and the millipede question got me. Caterpillars are OK, but millipedes are creepy.

  67. formerlyknownas says


    I’m not really any more repulsed by spiders than any other bug, and the especially large ones are actually better because they get out of the zone between small bug and small-ish lizard for me.

    I find videos of spiders and bugs fine, and recognize their importance, but the genuine article makes me act irrational.

    Also worth noting that we genuinely cleaned spiders out of anywhere visible in our house and I rarely ever had encounters with small bugs in the housr while growing up.

  68. opossumboy says

    0.0 for me. Frankly I have my spider preferences: not fond of black widows but absolutely in love with wolf spiders. They don’t spin any messy webs, stay out of sight until the sun sets, and are way fast when racing across my floor. Most importantly, they eat the Western Conenose, a vector for American Trypanosomiasis (aka Chagas Disease).

    I need to explain that I live in a rather porous shack on a 4-wheel drive jeep trail in the hills. The ding-dang conenose is everywhere up here. Having been bitten by a conenose, I’d rather not repeat the experience! I love it when I get up in the night and their eyes reflect the light of my flashlight as they scurry across the floor to avoid getting stepped on by the giant humanoid. It’s a beautiful, useful and way cool spider. Living here would be hell without them.

  69. d3zd3z says

    0.0 as well. It does explain why I’m the one that gets asked to transport spiders out of the house. I just watched the latest Dr Who, and enjoyed it.

  70. Knabb says

    1.0 for me, on the shoe question – it’s not fear in that case, but more that squishing bugs between foot and shoe is just unpleasant. I take some spiders seriously, having nearly been bitten by a black widow before, but it’s mostly harmless ones see and those I have no issue with. Plus they deal with the wasps, which are horrible creatures that would see a much higher number on a similar survey.

    Centipedes and millipedes got mentioned in passing though, and those I dislike.

  71. microraptor says

    0.0 I like spiders. Sometimes I’m cautious because I don’t want to get bitten, but I’m not afraid of them under normal circumstances (if a black widow suddenly landed on my face that would be different).

  72. says

    My score was 2.0..

    Also PZ.. Here’s a link to a picture of a spider (very pretty but weird) that looks a a dog’s head with spider legs attached..

    and a request… Could you do a blog post sometime explaining what “23% European” means in those stupid 23andMe gene tests? Are “markers” the same as alleles? Are certain alleles/markers more common in certain parts of the world? Do “we” actually have good data on the prevalence of all the alleles/markers in various parts of the world?

    I’ve trolled the 23 and Me web-site and couldn’t find anything on point. (It’s entirely possible that I simply missed the explanation).


    I’ve learned a lot from your blog, esp. on understanding gender issues.


  73. says

    I scored a zero, which I sort of expected. I was bothered by the wording on a couple of the questions, though, which I possibly misinterpreted?

    “I don’t mind being near a harmless spider if there were someone I trusted around.” – I took it as mostly being about being near a spider, and not “if and only if someone I trusted were around.” Both interpretations are reasonable, in my opinion, and my answer would be “false” in the second case, and “true” in the first.

    “Spider webs are artistic.” – They are certainly interesting, and and can be artistic in the right context. But they aren’t unconditionally artistic, in my opinion. I decided, though, that the questionnaire wasn’t interested in a debate about what is art, so I said “true.” Someone could easily have answer “false” while having the same impression about spider webs that I have.

  74. methuseus says

    14.0 It’s probably so low because I appreciate the utility of spiders and beauty of them, as well as being able to (somewhat) contain myself from killing them as long as I don’t find them on me. I think I should have scored higher, as some of the questions in the test had my heart rate climbing a bit, let alone if I had actually seen a spider.

  75. methuseus says

    P.S. I’m still looking all over the place for spiders that aren’t there after this questionnaire… I guess it is a bit messed up.

  76. tbtabby says

    0.0, as expected. I don’t have a problem with spiders unless they build a web in an inconvenient spot.

  77. bigwhale says

    16.0 So I guess there would be a little advantage to treatment, but not much. I know the fear is irrational, but it doesn’t interfere much in life, except I’ve been forced to avoid some of this blog lately. I answered Yes to millipedes, but I was thinking of centipedes. Centipedes, no. millipedes and caterpillars are more like worms to me, I guess.

    Interestingly, I used to look at books of big glossy pictures of spiders in elementary school. I remember thinking they have fascinating bodies and colors. May have been enjoying an adrenaline rush as well. But I don’t think the phobia really bloomed until later. Actually, the movie Arachnophobia did a number on me. The scenes of putting on a helmet with a spider or being ambushed in the shower triggered something, maybe. I’ve had many nightmares featuring spiders or insects; not regularly, but they are my most common nightmare.

    Something I don’t like about spiders is that other creatures tend to run or hide when I approach, but the decision making of spiders seems more alien to me.

  78. nomenexrecto says

    Spiders, insects… they can be annoying occasionally, but they don’t tick my fear boxes.
    I reserve my panic for snakes and worms and all those living spaghetti…

  79. Left Handed Atheist says

    14.0. Not as high as I expected, but I really do find most of them quite horrible. I have a very clear memory, from the age of about two or three I think (I am now almost 68), of having a bunch of itty bitty yellow ones crawling on me after brushing a cobweb outside. I can tolerate most if they keep their distance, but I could not make myself directly touch one on purpose, never, ever, ever. Even picking up a dead one in a Kleenex freaks me out, yikes!

  80. indianajones says

    4 But I once had a huntsman crawl out from behind my steering wheel while I was barreling down the freeway at 100 km/hr. I don’t mind admitting that I screamed like a 14 year old girl at a boy band concert. Fortunately there was no traffic around too close, because that swerve could easily have killed me or someone else. Oh, and it ABSOLUTELY was a smear under my boot in less than a second after I panickedly swiped it onto the floor.

  81. lucifersbike says

    Zero, but I live in Northern England where the spiders are too weedy to bite humans. Mrs Lucifersbike and I tolerate spiders in the house because they eat flies; but only the canniest spiders escape our cats. We leave a towel over the edge of the bathtub so any spider that falls in can escape, otherwise I’d use a glass and a sheet of paper to trap them before letting them go in our (tiny) back garden. Spider webs are amazing, and particularly attractive when early morning sunlight is caught in dewdrops. On the other hand, authoritarian populist politicians make me squirm and wish I had a giant-sized pesticide spray.

  82. angela78 says

    What a bad survey. You got a meaningless score, no ranges, no info on how you relate to other participants.
    And some questions are probably wrong. “I don’t mind being near a harmless spider if there is someone there in whom I have confidence”. I answered NO because I wouldn’t mind even if i were alone, but probably the survey takes this answer as “I need to have someone with me to not be scared of spiders”.

  83. Matrim says


    Though I don’t like the way some of the questions are worded. A lot of them are highly situational for me. Like, I wouldn’t be anxious or restless being near just any spider, but a particularly large or fast spider I would…or one that jumps. Plus it seems like the kind of fear they are looking for is somewhat different than the kind I express. I express it less with avoidance and more with “kill it now.” I used to be extremely afraid of spiders, and while I certainly would avoid an area with spiders (say, if I knew there were a bunch of spiders in a particular bush or something) I was equally likely to deliberately enter those areas (particularly if they were part of my home) for the express purpose of committing an arachnicidal rampage. I don’t do that any more, but I will still remove spiders in my home (or kill them if they refuse to be moved). I don’t like being around them in my spaces.

  84. cartomancer says


    For me the issue is the size of the spider. The tiny little ones are fine, but when they get larger than a 2p piece I get very anxious, and feel the need for a flamethrower. We don’t have any dangerous spiders in England (with the possible exception of Michael Gove) so it’s an irrational fear really. But I absolutely would not go to Australia for anything, because everything there is trying to kill you. Likewise the US right now, though I’m more afraid of the snakes and the Republicans than of the spiders in that case.

  85. Dauphni says

    5.0 for me

    I’m not really scared of spiders as such, but I am scared of other kinds of bugs, worms and caterpillars and the like, and some of that fear does transfer. And I don’t like handling any kind of animal, whether it’s spiders or common pets like cats and dogs.

  86. Wrath Panda says

    14.0, but only because I live on my own and am forced to deal with the multi-legged bastards myself. As a kid it was way worse, but even now as a fortysomething I am discomfited by the knowledge that there’s a spider in the same room as me. Unfortunately, my flat seems to attract a high quantity of them at certain times of the year. The first time I enter a room I check the corners and spaces between things to make sure that another one hasn’t moved in. They don’t even pay rent!

    A musical interlude

  87. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    The wife and I live on 3 acres. We’ve planted a lot of trees and restored some of the property to meadow habitat. We garden, so we see plenty of spiders–as well as centipedes and millipedes, and we occasionally get bitten by spiders while out in the garden, though more frequently by ants.

    We also try to cultivate mantids on our property–my wife collects the egg sacs in the fall and winter and distributes them around the meadow in the spring. Spiders are second only to mantids in terms of coolness.

    Ticks mosquitoes on the other hand, I’ll kill mercilessly. Hate those fuckers. I figure if they consider me prey, they’re fair game.

  88. zetopan says

    Some questions were very poorly phrased and/or ambiguous. For example:

    “I don’t mind being near a harmless spider if there is someone there in whom I have confidence.”
    Since I don’t have any fear of spiders I find the question essentially unanswerable since it includes the requirement that “someone there in whom I have confidence”. In other words, answering yes implies that I need someone there to have confidence, while answering no implies that even if someone else was there I would still be afraid. To me, this is a nonsensical question so I cannot answer it truthfully.

    “I think that I’m no more afraid of spiders than the average person.”
    Since I think that the “average person” is quite afraid of spiders (in my experience) answering yes implies that I am like the average person, which I would take to be false.

  89. says


    I wouldn’t be 100% comfortable if one walked out of my shoe, and I can’t quite say that I have abolutely no fear of non-dangerous spiders, but whatever instinctive fear is there is minimal, highly dependent on the situation, and only lasts for the first instant when the thing drops from the ceiling onto my neck in the garage (this happened last week). Once the initial shock is out of the way I will pick that critter up and go show my wife and kids.

  90. jojo says

    13 for me. I admit that just reading the questions in the survey made me a bit uncomfortable.

  91. eliza422 says

    I got a 1.0

    I might have gotten a bit higher but some of the questions were somewhat tricky in that, how do I answer the one about would I be OK with spiders if I had someone around I trust? I feel like I’m damned either way I answer.
    Oh well!

  92. says

    I don’t want to touch them, but otherwise, they’re fine. There’s a thriving spider community in my appartment and I only occasionally kill them, when they get too annoying – like the one that had apparently spent the night trying to build a web off of my tooth brush. Mostly I just brush them into a corner and forget about it.

  93. Curt Sampson says

    8.0. I’m generally not keen on bugs, and spiders look like bugs, even if they’re not. The fact that the catch and kill other bigs gives them a big boost in my book, however, and while I’ll immediately kill a cockroach, I’ll let a spider roam about my room if he’s small and stays out of my way, and isn’t too close to the futon.

    But I’ve only ever met small spiders. I’d probably freak out at a big one.

  94. eurosid says

    It would probably have 0.0 three years ago, before “the incident”. Arachnophobes do not want to read about it, and I just don’t trust them anymore.

  95. Oggie. says


    A couple of the questions made me wonder. Would I mind touching a dead spider with a stick? Maybe. Depends how the spider died. Depends what kind of spider. Depends on the circumstances. I certainly would not enjoy poking a dead spider with a stick but moving one out of a travel area onto grass where it can rejoin the ecosystem I would have no problem with it.

  96. Oggie. says

    Of course, I’m also the guy who used to catch tarantulas, put them on my shoulder (or on my head), walk into an NPS Visitor Center and wait for the visitors to start freaking.

  97. ridana says

    I don’t think, “I don’t mind being near a harmless spider if there is someone there in whom I have confidence,” was nearly as problematic as many have made it. If you don’t mind being near a harmless spider, then the answer is true, since having a trusted person there wouldn’t make you afraid of the spider. It says “if” not “as long as.”

    The problem isn’t that the question implies only being fearless in the presence of another person, but that it doesn’t differentiate between the groups of people unafraid of harmless spiders, and those unafraid only when they have backup, and I guess people are troubled that it doesn’t make that distinction. But maybe the poll makers just wanted to differentiate between people who can be around harmless spiders under certain or all circumstances, versus those who can’t under any circumstances. As written, the question accomplishes that, as long as people don’t overthink it and read it to make it ask the question they want to answer.

  98. Curious Digressions says

    1.0. Probably accurate. I don’t like being surprised by a spider skiddering across me and I’m annoyed when I wake up with spider bites, but otherwise, they’re fine.

  99. komarov says

    16.0, but some of the questions seemed mildly contradictory or just odd. The system has probably already categorised me as liar / hypocrite / spider-human hybrid pretending to be slightly phobic to pass as human.

    I don’t mind the spider videos though. Maybe that’s just because I can think of the camera and thousands of miles of cabling that seperate me from them. For the moment.

  100. FiveString says

    3.0 for me. I don’t have any particular fear of spiders and I try to avoid killing them whenever possible (I usually relocate them outdoors), but I still don’t particularly want one in my shoe or on my person.

  101. dianne says

    The thing about having a spider crawl out of your shoe is that it invites the question: What did it crawl in to get? Is that thing still in the shoe?

  102. auntbenjy says

    @ zetopan #123

    “I think that I’m no more afraid of spiders than the average person.”
    Since I think that the “average person” is quite afraid of spiders (in my experience) answering yes implies that I am like the average person, which I would take to be false.

    I think this is what got me my 4 score. Overthinking for the win. :)

  103. says

    Webs are beautiful, but touching them terrifies me. Have you ever seen a whole lot of Fla banana spiders hanging above you in their huge webs?!!???

  104. Niki G says

    I got a 5.0, but the way some of those questions were worded were terrible. . I wish indifferent was a choice on some of those questions.

  105. psanity says


    I am not so much afraid of spiders as easily alarmed by them. I can deal with them, but when I’m caught by surprise, they freak me out. I think I was traumatized when I was about 12 by a Minnesota summer spent in a walk-in basement bedroom during which I was beset by daddy-longlegses that were literally the size of dinner plates. Literally. Before that, I wasn’t much bothered by spiders generally, and I would handle daddy-longlegs with interest.

    I have been enjoying the spider chronicles very much, but of course, they don’t catch me by surprise.

  106. fledanow says

    I’m much better than I used to be. I can now share a room with a spider, as long as I know where it is. I can now look at pictures of them, and even touch the pictures, as long as the pictures don’t show the faces. I can even brush against a web without having to scrub myself raw afterwards.

    I would have gotten a higher score if I weren’t so literal when responding to the statement. For example, I could not sleep with a spider on the ceiling above my bed, but I don’t want it killed, just removed. So that was a “false” when it probably should have been a “true”. Same with the wording of the spider in the shoe statement – something in it elicited the wrong answer because the question stated i would have a specific reaction (which I would not) instead of simply saying I would be bothered. There were a few of those poorly worded statements that lowered my score.

    Now snakes – snakes are fine.

  107. says

    Damn I missed it! Can you add me after the fact?

    I got 24. Like I get how useful and important spiders are, but the level to which they freak me out… I just…

    Honestly, I know it’s not their fault I’m arachnophobic. It’s mine. I don’t go out of my way to kill spiders. They keep other pest-y bugs away, after all.

    But that doesn’t stop them from being absurdly terrifying to me. So much so that I didn’t make it through the most recent episode of Doctor Who, “Arachnids in the UK”… it was too much…

  108. jmosthaf says

    Well, a bit late. I am a 15.0 and a bit of an Arachnophobe but oddly fascinated by some spiders. I loved the book Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. :)

  109. Matrim says

    @Sandi, 141

    Unfortunately, most of my encounters with banana spiders have been at face level. I’ve never seen such a distinctively colored animal that still manages to go unnoticed until it’s about 15 inches from your face. And the ones I encountered had the most infuriating web design. They loved to build normal sized webs that were anchored by crazy long lines running between trees about 10’ apart. So even if you didn’t walk into their web proper it was easy to accidentally snag an anchor line and end up towing web, spider, and all around with you.

  110. says

    2.0. I think the way they move is a little unnerving — but that’s true of most solitary arthropod predators — and I’d be weirded out if one crawled out of my shoe — but I’d be weirded out if one of anything crawled out of my shoe, pets excepted.

    I waffled on “artistic” spider webs, then decided they probably meant “aesthetically pleasing” and answered in the affirmative.

    Jumping spiders are totally adorable, especially peacock spiders but even your garden-variety jumpers. They’re totally the photogenic kittens of Arachnida.

  111. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    “I don’t mind being near a harmless spider if there is someone there in whom I have confidence.”
    Bad question – True indicates I need the other person, False means I don’t want to be near a harmless spider.
    And the one about a long stick – stick or not, dead is dead.

    My score was 5