Spiders: Even ‘bug people’ don’t like them

Orb-Weaver

How afraid are folks of spiders? According to a survey done by a University of California at Riverside professor, even some people who study insects are petrified of the eight-legged arthropods.

Professor Richard Vetter recently looked into the prevalence of arachnophobia in entomologists – individuals who work with bugs regularly.

According to a report of Vetter’s study published in American Entomologist, Vetter surveyed 41 self-described arachnophobic entomologists and found that they react differently to spiders than to insects, with some stating that they react to spiders in an almost debilitating manner.

Some of the arachnophobic entomologists said their fear developed in childhood, well before making the choice to pursue a career in entomology, according to the website RedOrbit.

“The results of the study show that arachno-adverse entomologists share with arachnophobes in the general public both the development of response and the dislike of many of the behavioral, physical, and aesthetic aspects of spiders,” said Vetter, an entomologist himself.

“Paradoxically, I found that despite the great morphological diversity that insects exhibit and despite years of professional exposure to insects, these entomologists do not assimilate spiders into the broad arthropod morphological scheme,” he continued. “However, for the most part these entomologists realized that their feelings could not be rationally explained.”

The article also revealed several amusing arachnophobia-related anecdotes, including some from respondents that regularly work with maggots and other creatures that most people would consider extremely unappealing.

“I would rather pick up a handful of maggots than have to get close enough to a spider to kill it,” one respondent told Vetter.

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New species of huge spider found in Asia

Poecilotheria rajaei

Arachnophobes beware: an enormous, previously unknown species of spider as big as a human’s face and described as “fast and venomous” has been discovered in Asia.

Giant tarantulas with legs that span eight inches have been found in a remote village in Sri Lanka.

The spiders, which also have unusual yellow markings on their legs and a pink band around their bodies, were found living in the old doctor’s quarters of a hospital in the war-torn northern Sri Lankan province of Mankulam by scientists from Sri Lanka’s Biodiversity Education and Research organization.

The spiders belong to the genus Poecilotheria, an arboreal group indigenous to India and Sri Lanka that are known for being colorful, fast and venomous, according to the website wired.co.uk.

“As a group, the spiders are related to a class of South American tarantula that includes the Goliath bird-eater, the world’s largest,” it added.

The giant arachnids have been named Poecilotheria rajaei, in honor of Michael Rajakumar Purajah, a senior police official who led the research team through a hazardous stretch of jungle ravaged by civil unrest, according to The Telegraph.

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