Get access

Spiders (Araneae) in the pesticide world: an ecotoxicological review


  • Stano Pekár

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Sciences, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
    • Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Sciences, Masaryk University, Kotlářská 2, 611 37 Brno, Czech Republic.
    Search for more papers by this author


Being one of the most abundant and species-rich groups of natural enemies occurring in all agroecosystems, spiders are variably affected by pesticide applications. Here, a review is given of research on spider ecotoxicology. More than 40 species of spiders and almost 130 pesticides (acaricides, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides) have been tested so far in the field or under laboratory conditions. Field studies show that the degree of population reduction following pesticide application is a function of a number of factors inherent to pesticides, crops and spider species (guilds). These studies also revealed indirect effects via habitat and prey disruption. Among laboratory studies, a number of papers have investigated only the direct lethal effect. A meta-analysis of these data reveals that spiders are mainly affected by acaricides and insecticides, particularly neurotoxic substances. Currently, ecotoxicological research on spiders is focused more on direct sublethal effects on a variety of behavioural traits (locomotion, predation, web-building, reproduction, development) and physiology. Yet a standardised approach to the evaluation of sublethal effects is lacking. A few studies have provided some evidence for hormesis in spiders. Future research should be more concentrated on sublethal effects and the estimation of long-term changes in spider populations as a result of pesticide treatment. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry