Next time you notice a spider crawling around your room, you might want to think twice about killing it.
In a new study released last week, researches found that spiders eat between 400 to 800 million tons of insects a year. To compare - the entire human population on earth eats about 400 million tons of meat and fish each year. When put in that context, one can't help but marvel at the sheer volume of insects spiders ingest each year!
The authors of the study wrote in "The Science of Nature," that "our estimates for spiders appear to be of the same order of magnitude as the prey kill by whales in the world's oceans which has been estimated to be in the range of 280-500 million tons annually."
This newly published information illustrates the important role spiders play in ridding the environment of unwanted pests and insects that carry disease and parasites.
Beyond serving a very useful function, Spiders are also incredibly adaptable - they can be found living in some of the most extreme environments on the planet ranging from the hottest deserts to the cold regions of the northern most islands in the arctic. They also have been discovered in some of the highest altitudes that living organisms can be found. Wherever they can find food - they can survive.
The researches of the recent study estimated that there is about 25 million tons of spiders on the planet, meaning that each individual spider eats a lot of insects.
"Our estimates of the global annual prey kill imply that spiders exert considerable predation pressure on insect populations, especially in forests and grasslands," wrote Nyffeler and Birkhofer.