Does This Body Butter at Sephora Really Attract Spiders? - The World News

Does This Body Butter at Sephora Really Attract Spiders?

I was just thinking about what I wanted for my birthday, which is coming soon. And the one thing I’m missing in life is a lotion that makes my skin feel super moisturized and attracts Wolf spiders.

Lucky for me, my day might have come.

The beauty chain Sephora’s Reddit page was set ablaze this week by a one-star review of a new body butter sold on the site, claiming: “SCENT ATTRACTS WOLF SPIDERS.”

“If you’re scared of wolf spiders — watch out for these lotions lol. I wanted to love them soo bad, but one of the ingredients is like kryptonite to wolf spiders! When I put it on instantly one will come out,” the reviewer wrote, ending with, “sorry for a disappointing review.”

You should be sorry! Happy birthday to me!

The product, the Delícia Drench body butter made by the company Sol de Janeiro, debuted this month at Sephora and sells for $48 per 8.1-ounce container. The Brazil-inspired brand has sold other body butters for years without incident, with its Bom Dia Bright and Brazilian Bum Bum variations ranking among the chain’s best-sellers.

But not long after the new scent was released, multiple spider-related reviews popped up for it on Sephora’s website. Sleuths on Reddit and other social media began to try to suss out whether there could be merit to the claims.

One widely shared post confidently claimed that there was a scientific reason the body butter was drawing spiders. “Combine farnesyl acetate with hexadecyl acetate in right dosage and it might bring all the thirsty boy spiders to your yard,” it said, referring to apparently common ingredients in skin care products.

The post was shared more than 15,000 times, leading Sol de Janeiro to cheekily weigh in and debunk those claims.

“We didn’t think we would wrap 2023 becoming an urban legend,” the company wrote in an Instagram story post on Friday. “All of our products, including our new Delicia Drench Body Butter and upcoming Cheirosa 59 Perfume Mist are free from farnesyl acetate, diisobutyl phthalate, and hexadecyl acetate.”

The statement continued: “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).”

Sephora did not respond to a request for comment.

Though it’s not clear how many of the reviewers were taking the possibility seriously, the comments and quips haven’t stopped: One reviewer on Friday afternoon declared the lotion “Grade A — unless a Wolf spider starts stalking me.”

One Reddit user said they conducted a days-long experiment to see if the lotion really did attract spiders. After one day, they reported, “I think it actually brings spiders? I have seen 8 spiders, we rarely have spiders at work.”

Online, the jokes came fast: One commenter said they would immediately buy the cream for their in-laws, while another posted their husband’s parodied lyrics about the lotion to the tune of the original “Spider-Man” cartoon theme.

For those of us who are cool with spiders: Bad news, this is nothing more than a fun internet meme, according to scientists.

Wolf spiders, scientifically known as Lycosidae, are dark-colored arachnids with long, skinny legs. They typically range from one-quarter inch to 1 inch in size, and their bites are not a danger to most humans.

Floyd W. Shockley, the chair of the Entomology Collections Committee at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, said the memes showed a “glaring lack of understanding about the diversity of 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. Shockley said in an email.

As for the anecdotal tales of the spiders creeping toward the lotion?

“What is more likely, given the time of year that all of this is happening, is that people are simply noticing more Wolf spiders indoors than usual because outside temperatures have dropped below the level they are comfortable in,” he said. “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.”

Gustavo Hormiga, a professor of biology at the George Washington University agreed.

While sex pheromones have been documented for spiders, “as an attractant it works only for your own species,” he said in an email.

“To identify and chemically characterize a pheromone entails a lot of hard work, and every species has its own unique chemical cocktail (like spider venoms),” Dr. Hormiga said. “For the story to have an element of initial credibility, the chemicals in the cream (by chance alone) would be attracting only mature males of a single species.”

They would not attract Wolf spiders in general, because there are at least 2,500 such species.

“It seems extremely unlikely that a spider is interested in crawling over a human (or any mammal for that matter),” Dr. Hormiga said.

Well, not with that attitude. I’ll just have to settle for a Yankee Candle or something.

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