Main picture: Santa Rosa Press Democrat/ZUMA
With great passion comes great trouble: This could be the lesson learnt by a spider-and-bug-lover in northeastern France after he was suspected of trafficking the creepy crawlies.
Investigators were puzzled by how the fifty-something man could afford his many trips to Guyana, Brazil and Madagascar despite living off state benefits, so they searched his home and found some 140 live tarantulas and close to 3,000 dead ones. Not to mention the scores of scorpions and dozens of dead butterflies, as well as other insects, French newspaper Le Républicain Lorrain reported.
European Wolf Spider or False Tarantula — Photo: VW Pics/ZUMA
According to Le Figaro, the live tarantulas could fetch up to 2,000 euros ($2,800) apiece, while the dead arachnids are estimated at 1,000 euros each. The man, however, denies accusations of trafficking, saying that he only exchanged some of his insects with other collectors and sold others in order to pay for his travels. Investigators will now check if any of the specimens he kept are protected or endangered species. He could be fined up to 9,000 euros ($12,500).
Here's a glimpse of his collection, filmed by French public TV channel France 3.