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NATURE

Itsy Bitsy Spider = Planet’s Biggest Eater?!

March 23rd, 2017

Photo credit: HTE Kids News

If you had to guess, what would you say the top predator in the world is? Lions? Whales? People?

According to Dr. Martin Nyffeler from the University of Basel in Switzerland, it’s … the spider.

The itsy bitsy spider is the bigger eater on the planet??!! It seems that way!

Predators are creatures that kill and eat other animals for food.

If you took every spider in the world and measured how much they all ate, it turns out to be an astronomical 400-800 million tons of prey each year!

Spiders eat mostly insects. They’re natural enemies for the most part. Without spiders (and ants and birds that also eat insects) the insect population would be out of control. And since insects eat plants and trees (which humans rely on to survive) we have a lot to thank spiders for. “Spiders thus make an essential contribution to maintaining the ecological balance of nature,” said Dr. Nyffeler. He’s been studying spiders for 40 years! So, don’t be grossed out … they’re keeping the Earth healthy!

Amazingly, there are an estimated 1,000 spiders for every square meter (about the size of a double mattress).  There are approximately 25 million tons of spiders in the world and 45,000 different species of them. So they’re the top predator because that’s a lot of spiders eating a lot of food!

Humans, by comparison, consume about 400 million tons of meat and fish, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Whales nosh on about 280-500 million tons of seafood in the same time span.

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