Spiders around the world eat between 400 and 800 million tons of insects every year. In comparison, the world's human population consumes annually 400 million tons of meat and fish. The spiders help to regulate the amount of insect pests in forests, as well as other types of landscapes, and thus prevent disasters.
Behind the research is Klaus Birkhofer, a biologist at the University of Lund in Sweden. Together with researchers in Switzerland, he has analyzed how much spiders consume in a year.
- Many people are afraid of spiders and find them unpleasant. I hope that this study will lead to people better understand what benefit the spiders are, says Klaus Birkhofer in a press release.
Spiders keep the amount of insects down. The enormous quantities of insects that spiders eat, would otherwise cause great damage to agricultural crops and forests. But not only that.
- For example, they help by catching mosquitoes that can infect humans in malaria areas, said Klaus Birkhofer.
To estimate how much the spiders in the world consume, researchers have based the research on data collected in 65 previous studies. Then they have figured out how much insects spiders need per year to survive. The answer is between 400 million and 800 million tons. In comparison, the world's whales eat between 280 and 500 million tons of food per year.
More than 90 percent of spiders' prey are insects and springtails. Large spiders in the tropics can also catch and eat frogs, lizards, birds and bats.
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