Meet Andrew Markey, an insect collector with hundreds of preserved bugs from all over the globe. Across the internet, he is known as the Bug Boy, a nickname that has stuck with him since his early childhood. In effort to spread awareness in a world afraid of bugs, Andrew began sharing photos of his creepy crawlies on his Instagram page in hopes to show others that bugs are not as bad as people make them out to be. Since then, he has gained quite the following and has become rather inspirational to many people, and there’s no wonder why, as many specimens in his collection are enormous, with some being near record size. The largest bug in the collection in terms of length is a female stick insect from the island of Borneo, measuring 22.5 inches with legs fully extended. His largest wasp is a tarantula hawk from Peru with an impressive 4 inch wingspan, and his biggest beetle is literally the size of an adult hand. One of his most recent acquires is a centipede from the tropical jungles of Indonesia, measuring a whopping 12 inches.

Andrew’s most recent Instagram post is a video of him handling a wild black widow, one of North America’s most venomous spiders. Black widows can bite, and they produce protein venom that affects the victim's nervous system, so Andrew strongly advises others from attempting to handle a black widow. He is a trained professional and understands the tolerance of the critters he handles, as well as being capable of recognizing their warning signs.

“It’s unfortunate that insects and arachnids have such a bad reputation. They are often misunderstood and I wanted to demonstrate that they're not out to get you,” says Andrew. “Spiders actually prefer to avoid humans, and a bite from them is in fact rare.” Andrew encourages that if you do see a spider, admire it from a distance and do not kill it, as many are beneficial and have an important role in the ecosystem, no matter how scary or gross they appear to be. Those giant spiders and their impressive orb webs in your garden are contributing to the control of pest populations, and if you are nervous about one in your home, simply relocate it as it most likely found its way inside by mistake. But if you are however, an unfortunate victim of a severe spider bite, it is important that you seek medical attention.

If you believe that a spider is a pest and you must exterminate it, consider using natural methods as an alternative. Andrew discourages the use of chemical control methods such as synthetic insecticides because they can be harmful to the environment, as well as other forms of life, including our beloved pets and ourselves. Children are particularly susceptible to the hazards associated with such repellants, as their brains are still developing and consequently more susceptible to neurological complexities caused by exposure. There are many organic, non-toxic, and safe solutions to get rid of pests, but the simplest way to repel them is to discourage them from coming in the first place by repairing torn window screens, sealing cracks and crevices, and keeping areas clean.

To see Andrew’s video of the black widow spider and his diverse collection of bugs, check out his Instagram @bugboy