How dangerous are hunter spiders for humans

The big angle spider is in a tight spot. The man with the full beard moves energetically towards her. He took her hairy legs between thumb and forefinger. With the other hand he presses her poison apparatus to his fingertip. "Take a bite now!" He mumbles. Finally, the spider's equanimity comes to an end. She spreads her mouthparts and sinks her poisonous claws into the skin of her tormentor. "Finally!" He says.

Even if you look closely, you cannot discover where the spider has bitten. "A prick like a small needle, that's all I noticed," says Peter Jäger. He almost sounds disappointed. The spider researcher from the Frankfurt Senckenberg Research Institute actually likes the defensive predators. He would never tease her for fun. But this self-experiment is probably in their interest: Jäger has set out to restore the honor of the crawlers.

Large angle spiders are especially terrifying for people who feel chills at the sight of spiders. The animals from the genus Tegenaria, known as house spiders, are almost two centimeters long and up to ten centimeters leg span, and are among the largest German spiders - and they inhabit almost every cellar in the country.

Wild rumors circulate among the fear of spiders about biting accidents with the animals. House spiders crawling in beds and attacking the sleeping. Or devious attacks on housewives waving feather duster who got too close to the brood. Traces of this nimbus can also be found in the Toxinfo database of the Munich Clinic on the Right of the Isar: "Bites often," it says succinctly.

Fateful fear makers

"Total nonsense," says Jäger. "I had to defeat the last Tegenaria for 20 minutes before it decided to take a bite. Often it doesn't work at all. Aggressive spiders would behave differently!" Most spiders lack the instinct to attack larger attackers. They prefer to seek their salvation in flight or surrender to their fate. But precisely because the animals are so reluctant to spray poison outside of their food source, there is a lack of knowledge about which spiders could bite people and what the consequences would be.

However, a quick look at the more than 1000 German spider species makes it clear that most of them cannot be dangerous to humans. "They can't open their mouths wide enough to pinch a fold of human skin between them," says Jäger. "The biting apparatus with the jaw claws, the chelicerae, are simply not long or not strong enough." He estimates that spiders must be at least one centimeter long in order to bite into human skin - they are most likely to succeed in the thin-skinned areas between the fingers, less often in the cornea of ​​the fingertips. So far there are only a few families on Jäger's list of successfully provoked bites in domestic spiders: in addition to the angle spiders, the cross spiders, cunning spiders and thorn fingers.