Insect trade, booming market is worrying

The exotic pet trade has proliferated in recent years. If some prefer to collect it in aquariums rather than cross it in the wild, experts warn of this harmful trade.

If mass unconscious animal trafficking is often associated with rare species of birds, monkeys or even leopards, it also affects insects. In fact, cockroaches, beetles, butterflies and centipedes are also victims of illegal trade. However, theThe growing business of what some consider to be fearsome creatures that threaten many insect species and pose a threat to existing ecosystems.. Destruction of culture, eating meat of other species, transmitting diseases … Scientists warn of the dangers of these new businesses.

Insect trade harms wild populations

According to a report published in the magazine Communication biology, more than 1,200 species of spiders (a group that includes spiders and scorpions) are in circulation, including vulnerable species on the verge of extinction. “These are perfectly legal species to trade, but there is no data on their sustainability,” says Alice Hughes, study author and associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Hong Kong.

To gauge the volume of work, Hughes and his colleagues developed an algorithm to analyze websites that sell spiders and scorpions online, including those owned by traditional pet stores. They then compared it to existing commercial databases compiled by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). calendar : While the insect trade is perfectly legal, it turns out that two-thirds of the spiders and scorpions that are traded are taken from the wild rather than bred in captivity..

When people enter a pet store, they see an animal and assume it may have been bred in captivity. ‘ explains Alice Hughes. What we know now is that for small animals like spiders, more than 50% of the individuals you see in pet stores actually come from the wild. And that’s before we count the deaths properly, because of course if they were shipped from Africa or anywhere else, large numbers would likely die along the way.. »

If these wild specimens disturb ecosystems, spiders play a role in regulation over populations of harmful insects, Scientists regret that this trade harms the study of these populations and its benefits for humans. In fact, spider venoms that contain antimicrobial, analgesic and anticancer compounds make them serious candidates for new drug development.

Scientists are sounding the alarm

This new poaching is about tropical nations that attract unscrupulous collectors willing to do anything to enrich their collections. At the top of the most desirable country is Bolivia, whose biodiversity is full of rare insects.

Although it is difficult to assess the extent of this new trade, scientists are sounding the alarm. In fact, this phenomenon combined with deforestation and urbanization (responsible for the disappearance of more than 40% of insect species in recent decades) can cause Irreversible disturbances to ecosystems. Besides the disappearance of endangered species, researchers are concerned about the artificial and clandestine introduction of insects into an area other than their native lands.. In fact, its spread can be catastrophic, causing such inconvenience as the destruction of crops, plants, trees and other native animals, such as the Asian beetle.

Although its introduction to Europe began in good faith, making gardeners happy (as an adult, it can swallow between 90 to 270 insects a day, compared to about fifty for its cousins), the impact of the Asian beetle on native species is disastrous: ” It has been defined as an invasive species, INRA geneticist Arnaud Estoup . explains, because it has a negative effect on native species of beetles. She is the largest and most voracious of them. It eats large quantities of aphids. When it passes somewhere, the native beetles often have nothing left to eat.. Not only being voracious, it also turns out to be a cannibal, attacking the eggs of other insect species such as the domestic ladybird. but that is not all. And as Christophe Breaux, president of the Société alsacienne d’entomologie revealed, it also carries a deadly poison: ” Asian beetles carry pathogenic parasites in their eggs. Although it is harmless to them, it can be highly toxic to domestic beetles. When they eat them they die. »

Faced with the scale of the phenomenon, some countries began to respond, such as France, which, in relation to Guyana, established regulations aimed at banning any trade in arthropods.

Do you know ?

Animal trafficking has become the third traffic in the worldAfter smuggling weapons and drugs.

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