Meet the SFU researcher hoping to put a friendly face on spiders

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They’re a spooky staple of Halloween, and one of the creepy critters often cited among the scariest, but that’s not stopping one SFU researcher from studying spiders.

Andreas Fischer has dedicated his career to learning about spiders, and runs a lab that houses more than 600 of them.

And if you’re an SFU student, you might want to close your eyes for this part: he collects them from the university’s hallways.

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Fisher’s research focuses on the pheromones spiders emit, the chemicals he says they use to communicate with one another.

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While 18 per cent of men and up to 50 per cent of women admit to arachnophobia, Fischer says the eight-legged critters are misunderstood, and are actually our friends — thanks to the work they do eating other insects.

In all his years studying spiders, Fischer says he’s never been bitten. What’s more, he says if he was, it wouldn’t matter much since there are just “a handful” of arachnids with venom that could harm a human.

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In B.C., just one of those spiders exists: the iconic black widow. But even then, Fischer says they get a bad rap.

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Despite its potentially deadly venom, he said the black widow is generally reluctant to bite, and will usually only do so if squeezed.

He says he’s hoping to use the Halloween season to spread a little information about spiders, and help the misunderstood bugs rehabilitate their reputations.

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