general designation for giant spiders of which there are two sorts, i.e.
ground spider, that live in burrows, and
arboreal spiders, that dwell in trees.
These large spiders,
of which the name
is usually translated as
are endemic to
Thailand, as well as to some other countries of Southeast Asia. There
are several different species, including the
Haplopelma minax (Thai
Black Tarantula); the
i.e. Melopoeus albostriatus or Haplopelma
albostriatum (Thai Zebra Tarantula); and the
beung nahm ngeun, i.e. Haplopelma
lividum (Cobalt Blue
The name beung is frequently used for a species which is referred
to by the common Thai name
beung dam, which could be translated as
yet confusingly refers to both the
Haplopelma minax (beung dam thai) and
the Haplopelma albostriatum (beung laai), although it has an even dark brown to black, hairy body and legs (fig.),
without the beige stripes that are visible on the legs of the Thai Zebra
Tarantula. In some parts of Thailand,
giant ground spiders are hunted
by the local population for food, using a long metal stick and a very
narrow spade to dig the spiders out of the burrows they live in (fig.). They are considered by some to be a delicacy
be health beneficial. They are washed in water to clean and
weaken them, after which they are fried in oil and eaten with
some fried garlic (fig.).
Besides this, these tarantulas are also immersed alive in rice whiskey (lao
khao) and left to soak for several days, after which
they drown and their poisonous venom is neutralized and dissolved in the liquor, believed by
some to give the drink special vigor. Beung dam are hence sometimes referred to
as edible spiders or fried spiders, and are said to have a salty sweet taste.
In popular speech, beung
are also called maengmoom yak (แมงมุมยักษ์), literally
Male beung tap the ground with their feet and abdomen to
announce their presence when looking for a mate, and —interestingly— in the Thai movie Nang Naak (นางนาก), it is shown
how just prior to dying, a beung taps its abdomen to the surface of
the wall it sits on, making a rhythmic sound with increasing
tempo, until it drops dead on the floor, as if it was
pronouncing its own looming death.
See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.