A skin care company has responded to a web of rumors claiming that one of its products is a magnet for spiders.
It all started with a one-star review for Delícia Drench Body Butter, a moisturizing cream from Sol de Janeiro. The review, posted earlier this month on the website of beauty retailer Sephora, warned readers in all caps: “SCENT ATTRACTS WOLF SPIDERS.”
The reviewer implored people who are “scared of wolf spiders” to “watch out,” because supposedly, using the body butter would “instantly” attract one of the arachnids. (The reviewer also described the lotion as “kryptonite” to wolf spiders, although they probably meant something like “catnip.”)
“One time, the spider wanted to eat whatever ingredient it is so bad that it chased me,” the reviewer claimed. “I swear on everything. I’d run left, it ran left, I ran right, it ran right. Like it was legit following the scent.”
The testimonial went viral across social media, and picked up even more attention after a Reddit user cited a study suggesting that farnesyl acetate and hexadecyl acetate ― two chemical compounds sometimes used in skin care products ― can mimic pheromones from “sexually receptive” female spiders.
The Redditor hypothesised that the body butter might contain those ingredients, which in the “right dosage” could attract male spiders looking for mates. The Reddit user added that they didn’t actually know whether the Delícia body butter contains those compounds.
On Friday, Sol de Janeiro tried to put the arachnophobia to rest. In a statement posted on its Instagram Stories, the company said its products do not contain any of the ingredients that could purportedly attract spiders.
“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),” the statement said.
Spider experts also say that even if the product did have those ingredients, it probably wouldn’t become irresistible to wolf spiders.
“It is HIGHLY unlikely that the skin cream company through random chance combined enough things in just the right proportion to mimic a spider compound,” Dr. Floyd Shockley, chair of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s Entomology Committee, told The New York Times in an email.
And Dr. George Uetz, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati, noted to the New York Post that farnesyl acetate and hexadecyl acetate haven’t been shown to attract wolf spiders, but other species of spider.
North American wolf spiders eat insects, and are typically between a quarter of an inch and an inch long (not including their legs). While they may bite if “mishandled or trapped next to the skin,” their bites don’t pose any serious medical issues, according to information from Pennsylvania State University’s agricultural extension.