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No, Spiders Don’t Want to Mate With Your Viral Body Butter | TechCrunch

Skincare girls, fear not: Your moisturizer probably isn’t attracting spiders.

Sol de Janeiro’s Delícia Drench Body Butter, launched earlier this month, has quickly become a holy grail product among skincare enthusiasts. In addition to hyaluronic acid, the lotion is packed with flashy ingredients like copaiba resin, passionflower seed oil, and prebiotic hibiscus to lock in moisture and soothe parched, “dull” skin, according to the brand website. Scented with velvet plum, vanilla orchid, and sandalwood for a “mind-enhancing experience” and packaged in pretty purple jars, the $48 body butter is sure to be a staple among beauty products and GRWM videos.

Sol de Janeiro went viral on Although body butter may be irresistible to humans, it is unlikely to be sexually arousing to solitary arachnids.

Catherine Scott, a spider behavioral ecologist and postdoctoral fellow at McGill University’s Lyman Lab, told TechCrunch that wolf spider mating involves visual and vibrational signals, not just smells.

“They have excellent vision (for spiders) and they wouldn’t just run towards the source of an odor, even if it smelled like a potential mate, unless it also looked like a spider,” he said. Scott said.

The product began gaining popularity in beauty circles when early reviews praised it for its hydrating properties and irresistible scent, but went viral on mainstream social media this week after a Sephora reviewer known under the name chemkats claimed that the scent “attracts wolf spiders”.

“I wanted to like them so bad, but one of the ingredients is like kryptonite for wolf spiders!” When I put it on instantly one will come out,” the reviewer wrote.

They added that they normally see one “every 3 years or so,” but since using the lotion, they said they have started seeing wolf spiders “every day.”

“Oh and one time the spider wanted to eat any ingredient, it was so bad it chased me,” Chemkats continued. “As if it’s legitimate to follow the scent.”

One person claimed a wolf spider bit them after they used their wife’s lotion. Another Sephora reviewer wrote, “The spiders love it, and so do the people in the elevator.” » One Reddit user said he put another brand’s product – known as “Brazilian Bum Bum cream” – on one tissue, and another brand’s lotion on another tissue, and the spiders didn’t seemed interested only in the handkerchief with Sol de Janeiro. product.

Scott noted that the phrase “wolf spider” can apply to an “entire family of spiders” scientifically named Lycosidae. What many people might mistake for “wolf spiders” are likely house spiders in the family Agelenidae, which behave and interact chemically differently.

If users correctly identified their arachnid pursuers as wolf spiders, it is “technically possible” that the lotion contains compounds that the spiders could study because they believe they are tracking chemical signals associated with their prey.

“But the story of the spider chasing the person carrying it doesn’t hold up,” she continued. “This sound is typical when people move around a lot near a spider and it is frightened, so it tries to run for cover, often in the shadow of the person – making it seem like the person she is “attacking” when in fact she is trying to hide.”

Wolf spiders are “visual hunters” and would only try to prey on a target smaller than themselves, she said, and they don’t feed on human blood, they don’t have so generally no reason to approach humans.

The original reviewer’s story is particularly dubious because they left similar Sephora reviews of spider-attracting beauty products, including a nearly identical one on another Sol de Janeiro product in March of this year. In 2022 reviews of two different BondiBoost products, chemkats claimed that spiders kept landing on their heads because of the products’ scent.

“Whether they’re just trying to have fun, or whether they really have a grievance against Sol de Janeiro is uncertain,” one Reddit user wrote in a thread warning others against chemkats. “What is clear is that they are trying to spread misinformation…I know it was fun and games, but I just wanted to nip this in the bud before it took on even more magnitude.”

But the hysteria around body butter has already spread, and many online users – including media outlets – have cited a Reddit comment about the “pheromones” in the product. In response to a body butter thread, one Reddit user posited that the chemicals in the Sol de Janeiro product are also found in spider pheromones and that the right combination of these compounds “could cause all the thirsty spider boys in your garden.” .”

The commenter appeared to cite a 2009 paper that identified compounds in the webs of sexually receptive female spiders, indicating “possible pheromone components.” The researchers also found that a combination of two of the identified compounds, farnesyl acetate and hexadecyl acetate, attracted male spiders. Both compounds are used in cosmetic products for their scent and texture, but not in viral body butter.

“All of our products, including our new Delícia Drench body butter and our upcoming Cheirosa 59 fragrance mist, are free of farnesyl acetate, diisobutyl phthalate, and hexadecyl acetate,” Sol de Janeiro said in a story Instagram published Thursday. “So while they may get a lot of attention from people, they won’t from the arachnids (even though we love all the creatures in Sol de Janeiro. I hope this clears up any worries and happy new year 2024!”

Even if the products contained these compounds, as many cosmetic products do, the document only identified the sex pheromone components of the female products of a specific species of spider, Scott said. Pheromones are used by members of the same species to communicate with each other and provide species-specific information such as age, sex, and previous mating experience.

“Many spider pheromones used for sexual communication are short-range and require direct contact, with the spider essentially “tasting” the silk or body of another individual to determine if it is the right one. species and the right sex before approaching and attempting courting and mating. “Scott added.

In other words, compounds that would attract one species of spider would not attract another, such as wolf spiders or house spiders.

“What we’re more likely talking about here are kairomones, which are infochemicals produced by a species (like an insect pheromone, intended for communication between males and females of that species) used by a another species (a spider) which is not the same. intended recipient of the chemical message,” Scott said.

Some wolf spiders, for example, use kairomones to avoid larger spiders that might prey on them, or hunt in areas where there is more prey for them. Research into the specific compounds that make up wolf spider pheromones is limited, but common beauty products are very unlikely to trigger them into a hunting (or mating) frenzy.

That’s bad news for those who were planning to amass an army of spiders, like one Reddit user who asked others to send them unwanted body butter.

“I believe that pesticides can be harmful, even though they are necessary, and that spiders are a natural way to keep pests from overpopulating! » said the user. “By taking on the first part of this project in winter, I can release my army of spiders when the weather is best for them to survive and do their duty of killing those damn mosquitoes.”

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