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Insects of the Amazon and Andes
Photographs Adrian Hoskins
Orthoptera | Coleoptera | Odonata | Hemiptera | Homoptera | Mantodea | Arachnida
Arachnids - Spiders
Most non-naturalists think spiders are a type of insect, but they actually belong to a different class of animals - the Arachnida, which also includes scorpions, ticks, mites and harvestmen.
Micrathena sp, ref 846  Adrian Hoskins

People who have never visited rainforests often think of them as dangerous places, where deadly snakes dangle in your face, jaguars leap out to attack you, spiders and scorpions creep into your bed at night, and huge shoals of piranhas eat you alive if you paddle at the edge of a river.

In truth you are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a road accident at home. Snakes are extremely alert and generally timid, slithering off long before you have a chance to cross their path, while attacks by jaguars, caiman and piranhas are extremely rare.

Probably the greatest danger is from stinging caterpillars, and from ants and spiders, some of which can inflict an excruciatingly painful bite. A short stroll along a rainforest track often involves having to regularly disentangle yourself from spider webs, many of which are occupied by decidedly scary looking inhabitants such as the creature illustrated above. I don't know whether or not this particular spider is venomous, but I'm glad I didn't get bitten!

Tarantulas ( illustrated below ), are very common and often seen on the ground, on tree trunks, or on walls. They are relatively harmless and unlikely to bite. If threatened they rear up, raising their front legs high in the air, while making a hissing or stridulating sound. If this fails to deter, they may rush forward and bite. More often though they suddenly twirl around and flick urticating hairs into the face of the attacker. The hairs can cause a very painful rash, and if they get into your eyes or lungs the pain can be excruciating.

Tarantula Tapinauchenius sp; probably latipes, ( Theraphosidae ), Yarinacocha  Adrian Hoskins

Peruvian Pinktoe Tarantula Avicularia sp in attack mode, Yarinacocha, Peru  Adrian Hoskins

 

 

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