The Four Month Hypothesis: An Overview on the Ecology and Behaviour of Chilobrachyssp Spiders (Araneae: Theraphosidae)

Authors : Rakhi Roy, Rounak Khare, Rudrajit Sarkar, Hena Sardar, Suparna Mukherjee.

Volume/Issue : Volume 3 - 2018, Issue 7 - July

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A number of reports on a large black spider being sighted which cause rashes and painful blisters due to piercing were being reported to local authorities. This scenario was for four months especially between early summer till monsoon. When the sightings continuously were going on significantly, media reported it as a “Panic about Tarantula in Rural Bengal”. Tarantula refers to not to any particular species of spider but refers to a defensive posture representing the galloping of a wild horse from which a group of spiders belonging to different families has derived the name. Cases of so called Tarantula outbreak reported on a continuous basis from 2016 to 2018 from the months of early March to late June, which was sporadic before in occurrence, is actually a spider infestation of the Family: Theraphosidaeunder the Genus Chilobrachysin different districts in West Bengal with red laterite soil areas. Extensive studies like habitat location, soil testing, analysis of environmental parameters and identification of proper niche in Block Debra under District Paschim Medinipur of State West Bengal, India has revealed an increase in spider infestation and human-animal conflict in the rural areas as by chance of these spiders are directly coming in close contact with the humans and indiscriminate spider killings are going on. Currently, there is a lack of awareness starting from the local authorities or the proper identification and treatment of the aforesaid problem which needs to be addressed immediately to protect both “The prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act”, ecological balance and human interest on social, biological and economical levels. Comparative studies through data collection from Debra Hospital has revealed the number of occurrence of people being admitted for venomous snake bites and tarantula piercing, shows that snake bite is being more fatal to human life, is being treated rather easily by hospitals whereas spider piercing and bristles shooting that causes allergic reaction is causing panic due to lack of awareness resulting in indiscriminate killing of spiders disturbing the ecological balance, biodiversity and disrupting food chain. The study was conducted to figure out the reason behind the panic, finding out which species of spider is responsible for the panic and the role of the species in the ecosystem. Surveys, micro and macro awareness programme and one to one interaction with the affected people were undertaken to find out the reason behind arachnophobia as observed among these people.

Keywords : Spider, Importance of Spiders, Chilobrachys, Theraphosidae, Tarantula, Behavioural study, Arachnophobia, Red Laterite Soil, West Bengal, Infestation, Human-Animal Conflict, Animal Rights, Ecology, Niche, Comparative Studies, Micro and Macro Awareness.


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