A new study by biologists has calculated that the world’s population of spiders eats up to 800 million tonnes of insects and other prey every year; that’s approximately the same amount as the weight of meat and fish eaten by humans.
The findings, published in the journal the Science of Nature, come from a study led by Dr Martin Nyffeler from the University of Basel.
The study’s numbers are enough bring arachnophobes out in a cold sweat but these numbers are not meant to frighten anyone. Dr Nyffeler’s team hopes that their study will raise awareness of the importance of spiders in the global food web.
“Spiders kill large numbers of herbivorous insects – and by doing so they help to protect the plants from herbivore damage,” said Dr Nyffeler.
“They serve as food for thousands of arthropod-eating animals – an estimated 8,000-10,000 specialised insect species and many passerine birds (an estimated 3,000-5,000 species) feed on spiders.”