Many fear him, the spider is one of the most unpleasant species on the planet. There is even a phobia defined as the irrational fear of these arthropods. However, the global online trade in spiders, tarantulas and scorpions continues to grow. And it does so in an unsupervised manner, according to a study, which simultaneously highlights its illegal nature and the threats it poses to biodiversity.
The study asserts that the growing popularity of the exotic invertebrate trade has “nearly driven many species to extinction”. Searching the web creates a fuller picture of the spider trade Posted Thursday in Nature Communication Biology. Its authors, including researcher Benjamin Marshall from Britain’s University of Stirling, reveal how more than 1,200 species of spiders have been or are currently being marketed on more than 111 websites around the world. Worse, 80% of cases are not conducted under any supervision.
Spiders and scorpions, the most popular
According to the study, three-quarters of the spiders sold online are arachnids, of which more than 400 are tarantulas, and the rest are butter scorpions, which are the most common. The researchers also found that nearly 200 species discovered since 2000 are already in commerce, and dozens of them are available a year or two after they were first recorded.
according to him New York times, It is also possible for collectors to purchase species that have not even been recorded by science. Hughes and his researchers have identified about 100 species of spiders routinely traded as variants of a known species, such as the “Vietnamese blue tarantula.” In many cases, these “variants” may actually be new species of spiders.
In contrast to physical sales, there is a kind of legal vacuum on the Internet that makes invertebrates “the greatest forgetting of policies and practices to protect endangered species”. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) only records, for example, one species of scorpion from more than 2,300 known. Of the more than 1 million species of invertebrates, less than 1% have been evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The study believes that the novelty and uniqueness of some species is what most encourages online spider buyers, especially tarantulas and jumping spiders. Some sites even suggest “mysterious boxes” of spiders, the content of which will be discovered by their future owner when they are opened. According to the study, these animals are always in fashion, and the small space they occupy makes them ideal pets for those who live in big cities and have limited space.
According to the study, based on Google search data, spider trade has seen an increase during confinement periods due to the coronavirus. An interest that has persisted over time thanks to the possibility of it being sent illegally by mail.
The study asserts that “its small dimensions facilitated the smuggling and washing of spiders. Before reaching the final buyer, if necessary, the package could pass through a third country with less stringent regulations.” Some species can spend several days inside a box, without water or food. Moreover, unlike vertebrates, it cannot be detected by customs controls.
Regarding seizures at customs, the study highlights that many species of spiders end up staying in the intercepted country, from which they did not originate. In Chile, for example, more than 50% of the supply of spiders are species that are not native to the South American country.
The environmental impacts of this type of trade are difficult to quantify, in part because so little is known about spiders. “Often we don’t fully understand the distribution of many of these species, let alone where they are found, and what they need to survive,” says Sarina Jepsen, who directs the Endangered Species Program at the Xerces Invertebrate Conservation Society. New York times.