Achnology in your everyday
The easiest way to lose fear of something is to know more about that thing. One of the most common phobias in the world is arachnophobia; however, with my communication work on spiders of Guatemala, I have had the opportunity to see how people lose their fear of spiders after learning more about them.
For a long time, I was afraid of spiders. I wouldn’t consider it a phobia as they didn’t cause me panic, terrors, or something uncontrollable, but they did make me quite scared. In 2018 I went on a tour with some friends to a Natural Reserve in my country; we saw snakes, beetles, butterflies and all kinds of animals. However, at one point in the night I came across a rather large spider. When I approached it, the spider raised its two front legs and looked directly at me. I got really scared and left there. At that moment I began to think about it. I had spent the whole day seeing and getting close to snakes and insects, even in the night of that day, I heard a cougar roar very close to me and I was not afraid. So why did a little spider make me feel like it did? I understood that it was because I knew very little about them and this little understanding increased my lack of understanding about them and my fear.
I decided to read more about them, their poisons, their ecological role, their abundance, etc. Every time I loved spiders more and I began to think that divulgating everything I have learned about them was something important to be able to help people understand their importance as well. It is essential to communicate more about them to promote a healthy coexistence between humans and spiders. So I took a camera and decided to use photography as my means of communication so that others would find out how beautiful and important they are.
The study of spiders has led me to understand that each thing is connected to another. Spiders keep populations of insects, and even amphibians, in check. At the same time, insects and amphibians keep spider populations in check. Spiders can be used as pest controllers in plantations and a relationship has even been found between different populations of spiders and greater fruit production in some plants. The effect that these little ones have on the ecosystem in general is incredible.
Thanks to these efforts to increase my knowledge about spiders, I have had the opportunity to speak publicly in interviews and more, about the importance of our eight-legged friends, as well as doing volunteer work where I have published about the diversity of spiders in Guatemala. I am currently working on the arachnid collections at my university, checking the collected individuals and classifying each spider into family, genus or even species, when possible. In the future, I would like to do more scientific communication about it and also have the opportunity to do research on their venom.
What about you? Are you afraid of spiders?
Spider’s investigation experience
2021 – Present | Curator of a collection of spiders (Araneae), University of the Valley of Guatemala
I look at the university’s collections to classify the individuals collected, by Family, Genus or even species, according to the quality of the specimen and the information available.
2021 | Diversity of spiders of Alta Verapaz, FLAAR Mesoamerica
First photographic report of the diversity of spiders in Alta Verapaz, with photographs of the FLAAR Mesoamerica team, Guatemala.
2021 | Southern House Spider (Kukulcania hibernalis), FLAAR Mesoamerica
The Southern House Spider is one of the most common spiders found near humans. Also, their appearance can seem intimidating to people and the male can look a lot like violin spiders. How to differentiate one from the other? Why are they important? Learn more here.
2019 – Present | Photography and communication about spiders from Guatemala
Macrophotography of spiders and communication about the diversity and importance of each one. Reading of scientific articles for their translation and easy communication of the different discoveries of the spiders found.