Spiders eat 800 million tons of prey a year
New research has revealed that spiders eat twice as much animal prey as humans do each year.
According to a study by Swiss and Swedish zoologists, the much maligned arachnids, which collectively weigh around 25 million tons, get through up to 800 million tons of insects a year.
Humans, by contrast, eat only 400 million tons of meat and fish in a twelve-month period.
The findings demonstrate that spiders are one of the world's most voracious predators with their annual intake even exceeding that of whales which eat up to 500 million tons of prey a year.
"Our calculations let us quantify for the first time on a global scale that spiders are major natural enemies of insects," said lead researcher Dr Martin Nyffeler.
"In concert with other insectivorous animals such as ants and birds, they help to reduce the population densities of insects significantly."
"Spiders thus make an essential contribution to maintaining the ecological balance of nature.