Spiders eat up to 800 million tons of insects a year

16 March, 2017, 00:20 | Author: Lorena Waters
  • Science unravels spiders´ monstrous food web

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, worldwide human population consumes around 400 million tonnes of meat and fish every year.

Spiders are considered to be one of the world's most species-rich and widespread groups of predators.

For a little context, estimates put the global human consumption of meat and fish at about 400 million tonnes annually, and even prey kill by whales is thought to be between 280 to 500 million tonnes annually - so as far as overall consumption goes, spiders are up there.

Researchers Martin Nyffeler and Klaus Birkhofer compiled data from 65 previous studies to estimate the number of spiders in the world. Their conclusion: altogether there are about 25 million metric tons' worth of them around. Most of their victims are insects and springtails, small insect-like arthropods, but they occasionally make a meal of vertebrates such as frogs, lizards, fish and small mammals.

'Spiders thus make an essential contribution to maintaining the ecological balance of nature'. Spiders have been found in the northern most islands of the Arctic, the hottest deserts, at the highest altitudes of any living organisms, bogs, sand dunes and other types of habitats.

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The study team also revealed spiders kill a lot more insects in forests and savanna than in other environments.

The vast majority of this insect devouring occurs in forests and grasslands, which are thought to account for about 95 percent of the annual spider prey kill.

But if you're now worrying that the world might be inherited by spiders, remember that in turn, they are a source of prey as well. These eight-legged creeps have a population density of up to 1,000 individuals per square meter.

"

"We hope that these estimates and their magnitude will help alert public opinion and improve the overall appreciation of the role of spiders."
". Between 8,000 and 10,000 other predators, parasitoids and parasites feed exclusively on spiders, while spiders at the same time form an important part of the diet of an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 bird species, note the authors. The scientific journal The Science of Nature has published the results.

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