Fact CheckHealth

Cyclocosmia spider not poisonous to human as claimed by Facebook user

Claim: A Facebook user claims that a poisonous spider can kill a human being within five minutes of stinging an individual.

The original photographer had refuted the claim via a tweet in 2020 that the spider is not dangerous to humans. Our findings also showed that this particular spider is harmless to humans and are not most likely to be found in Nigeria.

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Nigeria and Africa have been home to venomous insects and animals alike. According to a Premium Times report in 2017, over 250 Nigerians died of snakebites in just three weeks.

In 2021, Premium Times reported that Nigeria recorded 2,000 deaths from snakebites every year, a statement made by the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora.

Malaria has also been an issue in Africa and 600,000 deaths were recorded in 2021 by the World Health Organization, according to The Cable. As a result of these lingering dangers, Nigerians pay a considerable level of attention to their environment. 

The screenshot of the claim on Facebook

Spiders are now the concern for this Facebook user, Lawrence Ukwu, who shared a post warning beachgoers to avoid a poisonous spider capable of killing an individual within five minutes. 

The post includes three pictures of the spider, accompanied with the warning statement.

“For those of you who are going to the beach. Please beware of this. Don’t try to pick it up thinking it’s a work of art.  It’s a very poisonous spider.  If it stings you will die within 5 minutes,” the user stated. 

One commenter, Komolafe Sunday thanked the poster for sharing the information while Capitan Johnerro, who seemed to doubt the information, asked, “How true is this?”

Such claims have the potential to scare people off the acclaimed environments these spiders are said to be found. A viable reason DUBAWA opts to fact-check this claim.

Verification

DUBAWA carried out a Google Reverse Image Search on the image of the alleged picture of the spider. Results uncovered on Insect Identification reveals the spider is called the cork-lid trapdoor spider. Insect Identification notes that the spider can be found in the United States of America, Mexico and Canada. This implies its rarity in Nigeria, a contrast to the claimant’s earlier warning to Nigerian beachgoers. 

Additionally, a tweet made by the original photographer, Nicky Bay, (@singaporemacro) in 2020, admitting the virality of his piece of work. 

“This is a Cyclocosmia, a genus of cork-lid trapdoor spiders with a posteriorly truncated abdomen,” he tweeted.

The screenshot of the tweet in 2020

The photographer did not mention whether or not the  venom of the spider is poisonous to humans as alleged by the claimant. He also never mentions that it can kill anyone within five minutes. In Fact, he debunked the claim, stating clearly that the spider is NOT dangerous to humans.

The screenshot of his tweet debunking the information

“It is actually a very docile spider with medically insignificant venom,” he clarified.

DUBAWA also found that Check Your Fact interviewed an arachnologist,  Sebastian Echeverri to ascertain the claim of the photographer. 

The arachnologist confirmed that “its venom barely does anything to humans because no spiders can or need to eat humans.” We also carried out a keyword search to find if the spider has caused any death and found none on the internet.

Conclusion

Research has shown that the spider is harmless to humans. The photographer, expert and keyword search all showed that the spider cannot kill humans.

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