OTTAWA – Spiders have a voracious appetite. According to a study by Swiss and Swedish researchers published in the journal Science of Nature on Tuesday March 14th, these predators eat 400 to 800 million tons of food each year, 90% of which are insects and Of collemboles (of tiny animals detritivores). Large tropical spiders also occasionally eat small vertebrates, frogs, lizards, fish, birds or bats.
A gargantuan figure at least equivalent to the quantities of meat and fish consumed each year by humans (400 million tons), according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ( FAO ). Sharks are even lagging behind because they devour “only” 280 to 500 million tons of biomass per year.
An essential regulator role
By significantly reducing insect populations, these arachnids play an essential role in the regulation of crop destroyers and disease vectors. This is the first time that this regulating function is encrypted. Zoologists from the universities of Basel (Switzerland) and Lund (Sweden) explain:
“We hope that these estimates and their magnitude will help alert public opinion and improve the overall appreciation of the role of spiders.”
The researchers estimated, based on 65 existing studies, that the spider population would weigh the equivalent of 25 million tons. No less than 45,000 species make up this large family. Spiders are also an important source of food for 8,000 species of birds, parasites and other predators.