So eating tarantulas and other spiders is the new ‘thing’ to do if you’re a tourist in Cambodia. Tourists are joining the locals, grabbing every tarantula they can find and eating them with soy sauce.
They go to the forests or cashew nut plantations on the outskirts of Sukon and poke sticks down the hundreds of spider holes, catching them as they rush out of the earth.
No doubt this is super fun but I wonder if the Cambodians have thought of the consequences of inviting foreigners in to help wipe out the spider population. Probably not.
I do understand that the Cambodians are very poor and that spiders have long formed part of their diet. But they might regret this new craze.
Now why might there be spiders in the fields? Oh, could it be to eat the insects that would otherwise consume their crops?
However they just might find what the Indians found out when they supplied the French with frogs’ legs. The Indians, in an attempt to blitz the French market with frogs’ legs, chopped the legs off every frog they could lay their hands on.
They forgot to think what the frogs were doing in their fields in the first place. Later they found out. When they had annihilated all the frogs, their crops were destroyed by insects. The end result was that to save their crops India wound up spending more on pesticides than the gross income received from the sale of the frogs’ legs.
Now this is a living lesson in biodiversity.
Biodiversity is the variety of all things living on earth from micro organisms to plants to animals. Biodiversity is used as a measure of the health of biological systems.
Every creature on earth is a result of millions of years of evolution. When chinks appear in the biological chain as species perish the results are devastating – sometimes even catastrophic. The best way to keep the biological chain intact and to save species is to save habitats and ecosystems. When forests and jungles are chopped down and marshes drained, habitats are destroyed and hence all the micro organisms, plants and animals that lived there will die because their food source is gone.
Unfortunately for the French, frogs’ legs are now in short supply due to the fact that the chytrid fungus has been killing amphibians world wide. Frogs could well be wiped out.
Once frogs have been wiped out we’d better be very kind to our spiders as they are the number one predator of insects. If all the spiders disappeared tomorrow we would quickly be overwhelmed by insects, some of which cause disease and famine.
We would wake up to find a heck of a lot of flies and other insects buzzing about. However, in the long term, it would have a negative effect on the food chain, with shrews, frogs and other spider eaters getting less food. If there were less shrews and frogs, owls and foxes and other large predators would have less to eat, and more would starve to death. To sum up, the sudden disapearence of spiders sets off a chain reaction of hunger.
And that is what biodiversity is all about!