Spider_hanging_web

Spiders hanging by a thread

Spiders can be pretty intimidating individuals, especially when they make unexpected descents onto your face when you flip down the sun visor in your car. Yes, we revile spiders. Perhaps it is the macabre marionette dance of their legs when they move or maybe it is knowing they are contemplating us though eight eyes that makes humans uncomfortable about arachnid company. After all, if you are having a bad hair day you don’t need to be seen in multiples of eight! Consider though for a moment how spiders might feel about humans; if you are imagining a fair amount of dread, then you are close to the mark.

In a new piece of research 173 scientific papers on the impact of humans on spiders dating back to 1980 were analysed. The results make stark reading for spiders.

The studies reveal that farming is not fun for spiders. Fires (to clear land), sheep grazing, and conventional agricultural crops were all shown to negatively affect spiders because of the effect they have on vegetation.

The use of insecticides also negatively impacts spider diversity in agricultural and pastoral ecosystems. Organic farming is far more gentle on our eight legged, eyed friends but it still hits them to some degree.

The researchers suggest that if we are to preserve spider populations then humans need to reduce mechanical alterations to the land, reduce insecticide use, and follow more organic farming practices. If this can be done then the spider habitats can be less fragmented and spiders will stand a better chance.

”Fie on these octo-fiends!” I hear you cry. “Let them be fragmented and I will never walk into a web on a hot summer’s night again.” You may want to rethink such an attitude if it is you I heard. Spiders, although not enjoying huge public popularity, are very important predators in the ecosystem. They feast on many potentially pestilential insects so we had best think on how to nurture them for the future.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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