Pesticides throwing creepy crawlies off balance
Spraying pest control treatment around the home may be killing unwanted spiders and insects, but biologists warn it will only increase other pest species and cause biodiversity to become imbalanced.PT2M27S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2uxsa 620 349 October 3, 2013
The increasing use of home pesticides is creating a biodiversity imbalance, biologists say.
As more people treat their homes with pest control, the spiders and cobwebs may disappear but other insects and pests will thrive.
''If we go out there and kill all the spiders, which are natural predators, then the number of cockroaches and mosquitoes are just going to increase,'' said University of Sydney biologist and PhD student Elizabeth Lowe.
''By removing the spiders from these systems, you're exacerbating the problem of having some of these herbivorous insects that are becoming pests as well.''
Ms Lowe is studying how the golden orb-weaving spider is affected by urban environments.
When faced with a giant huntsman in the corner, many people are not concerned with biodiversity balance.
Naomi and Daryl Dusheiko live in Randwick with their two young children and have regular ant infestations and rogue spiders.
''I've always been scared of spiders,'' Mr Dusheiko said.
Mrs Dusheiko said: ''I'd just prefer a bug-free house and that includes spiders.''
The family has just had its house treated with pest control after the creepy crawlies started emerging about a month ago.
After one of the warmest winters on record and an exceptionally hot start to spring, Sam Yehia, of Sydney Best Pest Control Services, said the bugs had started moving early.
''People have noticed things more and I guess when people notice things more then the calls jump up,'' Mr Yehia said. ''If the spiders start coming up, it means the season's coming up and people want to be ready for it.''
Ms Lowe suggests that instead of using pesticides, we should aim for a more ''biological control approach'' in an effort to balance urban systems and get more biodiversity.
''If you have one huntsman in the house, he's going to eat quite a lot of cockroaches,'' she said. ''If you have a couple of orb- weaving spiders in the garden, then you're not going to have so many mosquitoes and so you can naturally restore some of that balance instead of killing everything that's out there.''