As children, we believed our friends and parents when they told us disturbing tales of watermelon seeds growing in our stomachs and changes in the wind freezing our pulled funny faces permanently.
But which of these childhood tales is true and what is a myth? We asked three experts whether there’s any truth (or lesson to be learned) to the tales that kept us up at night.
Do we really swallow spiders in our sleep?
Maggie Hardy, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The University of Queensland
I work with spiders for a living and, aside from what I’m sure would be the very rarest of occurrences, the idea that we eat them while we sleep is a myth.
Some spider species are known to “balloon” – a process where they release a thread of silk and float on the wind, ending up wherever it takes them. I suppose you could have one of these accidentally drift into your mouth while you’re asleep. But you’d have to be unlucky for that to happen.
But, generally, researchers think that while it’s possible we could swallow a spider while we sleep, it’s unlikely and would be a random event.
One American spider specialist, for instance, has outlined that five circumstances must collide for this unlikely event to happen:
1) You need to be asleep with your mouth open (not everyone sleeps like that)
2) A spider must be on your bed (spiders tend to stay away from humans)
3) It has to crawl across your body
4) It has to actually want to go into your mouth, and
5) You have to actually swallow it (we don’t automatically swallow everything that goes in our mouth).
Watch: Meteorologist Magdalena Roze busts some popular weather myths. (Post continues after video.)