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Rare, endangered insects and spiders illegally for sale online


by Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell University

A survey has found that endangered and threatened insects and spiders, as well as common species that provide valuable ecological services, can be easily purchased– without adequate oversight—through basic internet searches, according to a new Cornell study.

For example, the Luzon peacock swallowtail, one of the rarest butterflies, which is listed as endangered both internationally and in the U.S., and is illegal to trade, was found for sale at pinned in a display box for around $110.

Many species of live tarantulas, which are not threatened with extinction but whose trade is strictly controlled, were also readily discovered for sale as pets without any oversight or enforcement.

These results are concerning given that insects are in steep decline globally due to habitat loss, pesticides, invasive species, urbanization, pollution, and climate change. Some entomologists have estimated that the Earth is losing about 10 to 20% of all insect species every decade, and researchers said an insect or spider species' survival can be greatly impacted when it is collected and sold.

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