The Division of Arachnology was established in the year 1998 with the objective of conducting authentic studies on spiders of South India, especially in the state of Kerala. The division functions under the Department of Zoology of Sacred Heart College, Thevara, Cochin, Kerala, India. This is the only research centre in South India engaged in Arachnology research. Two scientists and 4 full-time research scholars are conducting the studies.
The following are the thrust areas of research:
• Diversity of spider fauna in Kerala State, India.
• Spiders as biocontrol agents
• Study of the feeding potential of spiders of paddy and vegetable agro-ecosystems and the effect of
insecticides on spiders as part of integrated pest management.
• Behavioural study of jumping spiders of Kerala
• Maintenance of reference collection of Kerala spiders.
The Division conducts routine faunal explorations in different parts of Kerala state namely Agasthyamala, Thenmala, Vagamon, Thattekkad, Parambikulam, Wynad, Kuttanad, Munnar,Mannavan Shola and the entire Ernakulam district. The division has so for identified more than 300 spiders from Kerala including 40 new species to science and 30 first reports. Araneus himalayensis, a rare spider reported only in the Himalayas has been collected from Mannavan Shola, near Marayur. A recent exploration to Vagamon grasslands and nearby shola forests yielded a collection of 44 species of spiders.
The division is also actively engaged in the research of Indian Tarantulas (Tiger Spiders). Out of the four species of tiger spiders reported from India (Poecilotheria striata, P. rufilata, P. regalis and P. kirki.), P. striata and P. regalis were collected from Parambikulam Wild Life Sanctuary and Ernakulam, respectively. This is the first documentation of these spiders from Kerala since they were first reported in 1870’s by the British biologists. Similarly Haploclastus kayi has been collected from Parambikulam and Thenmala forests.