Made from 100% non-dyed Golden Orb spiders from Madagascar, incredible!
After a friend sent this to me, I marveled at the beauty of the artwork and thought about the potential conservation value of this spider-human partnership. In ecology we often talk about the “aesthetics” value of nature- a sunset or a walk in the redwoods- but insects are often marveled at for their beauty (think butterflies and jewel beetles) and indeed used in artwork all the time. In this case, they “milked” the silk out of 1.2 million spiders (!) for 20 minutes and released them. The spiders’ work will go on display in a museum for millions of people to admire. These uses of insects as art or in art can be done in a way that actually promotes the conservation of their species and habitat.
One example is my friend and fellow Conservation Biologist Kevin Clarke’s business, Bug Under Glass. He hand-crafts extremely gorgeous and adorable displays of insects as well as butterfly/moth wing jewelry (of which I am the proud owner)- all done sustainably with insect conservation in mind. How does what work? He only uses sustainably farmed or sourced insects and never uses rare species (including tiger beetles!). Sustainably farmed insects can provide habitat conservation and poverty alleviation by providing income for local people who may otherwise use the forest or habitat for timber or agriculture. Read more about it at Bug Under Glass: Environment.
Whether it is handling Golden Orb spiders or admiring a blue weevil sitting on a park bench, the closer we get to insects (and spiders!) and what they can do, the more we can see how amazing and beautiful they are:
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” – Rachel Carson