No, Your Body Lotion Is Not Attracting Horny Spiders

While leaving product reviews is a pastime for some, one reviewer left a comment on a body lotion product that read more like a public service announcement. A warning to those not keen on spider-kind: the review suggested that the smell of the body lotion was attracting wolf spiders from far and wide. Let’s take a closer look.

The review, posted first on the Sephora website, and since deleted and then posted on Reddit, claims that the Delícia Drench™ Body Butter for Intense Moisture and Skin Barrier Repair by the brand Sol de Janeiro was making the user irresistible to wolf spiders. 

What a surprising side effect – but does it have a scientific basis?
Image credit: Screenshot via Reddit

Wolf spiders belong to the family Lycosidae. They have excellent eyesight and normally live alone, where they hunt crickets and other spiders. Some species also go for small reptiles and amphibians. There are over 2,400 wolf spiders that live all across the world. While they can bite people if threatened, they are not venomous and are considered mostly harmless, according to LiveScience

But are they attracted to body lotion? The review claimed, “When I put it on instantly one will come out. Normally, I’ll see one every like 3 years, used this and it was every day. I stopped using it and haven’t seen one since.” 

This led to something of an internet spiral when another Reddit user found a 2009 study that said three chemicals – diisobutyl phthalate, farnesyl acetate, and hexadecyl acetate – would attract male spiders, the latter two in a blend as they are produced as part of a sex pheromone in the females of the Pholcus beijingensis spider species. However, none of these chemicals are present in the body butter. Sol de Janeiro denied that the chemicals were in the body butter in an Instagram story, according to HuffPost

“All of our products, including our Delícia Drench Body Butter and upcoming Cheirosa 59 Perfume Mist are free from farnesyl acetate, diisobutyl phthalate, and hexadecyl acetate,” the statement said. “So while they may attract a lot of attention from people, they won’t from arachnids (even though we love all creatures at Sol de Janeiro).”

 

Floyd W. Shockley, who serves as the chair of the Entomology Collections Committee at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, told the New York Times, “Wolf spiders prefer to hunt and live outdoors, but when it gets cold they come indoors to overwinter, thus increasing the likelihood of a spider-human interaction.” It’s not the body butter drawing spiders indoors; it’s the natural change in the season, when the product happened to be released.

More product reviews have since reported no increase in spider sightings, much to one reviewer’s disappointment. 

No spiders after all!
Image credit: Screenshot via Sephora

So no worries folks: that particular product is not attracting wolf spiders. You might want to check the ingredients on other lotions before you apply though. And just in case you come across a camel spider running towards you, rest assured it’s your shade that they are after, not your perfectly moisturized skin.

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