Spiders are everywhere.
This isn’t the beginning of a paranoid delusion, or the start of a horror film. They are literally almost everywhere.
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A recent survey from PubMed states that 100% of the North Carolina homes they visited had spiders in them, including 68 percent of bathrooms and more than 75 percent of bedrooms. The most common species found was the cellar spider and the cobweb spider, not black widows – thank god.
When outside, arthropodecology.com asserts that it’s reasonable to say you are always within 3 feet of a spider. Unless you’re swimming, or in some other similar circumstance.
Two European biologists Martin Nyffeler and Klaus Birkhofer pondered just how much prey spiders, combined altogether, eat in a year. They published their estimate in the Science of Nature journal and the results may terrify you. The paper states:
The methods suggest that the global annual prey kill is presumably in the range of 400–800 million tons year.
They also note that the 7 billion humans on Earth eat about 400 million tons a year. Comparatively, the biomass of all humans, adult and child, add up to about 357 million tons. So spiders could eat every human on Earth within a year’s period and still be hungry on New Years.
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The Washington Post weighs in with some interesting (if not horrifying) factoids:
If you gathered up all the spiders on the planet and placed them on a very large scale, together they’d weigh about 25 million tons, according to Nyffler and Birkhofer. For comparison, the Titanic weighed about 52,000 tons. The mass of every spider on Earth today, in other words, is equivalent to 478 Titanics.
Spider biologists have also generally found that spiders consume approximately 10 percent of their body weight in food per day. That’s equivalent to a 200-pound man eating 20 pounds of meat each day.
Conversely, it would take approximately 2,000 pounds of spiders to consume a 200-pound man in one day.
You might be thinking you want to put Elon Musk’s flamethrower on your Xmas list right about now, in case of a spider apocalypse.
But hold up. I don’t want to be a force in blackening the spider’s reputation further. They’re helpful in many ways, and if you can keep yourself from squishing them with that rolled up newspaper you would be doing your home and yard a favor.
The Conversation spoke with Matt Bertone, an entomologist, on why you shouldn’t kill spiders:
Although they are generalist predators, apt to eat anything they can catch, spiders regularly capture nuisance pests and even disease-carrying insects – for example, mosquitoes. There’s even a species of jumping spider that prefers to eat blood-filled mosquitoes in African homes. So killing a spider doesn’t just cost the arachnid its life, it may take an important predator out of your home.
It’s natural to fear spiders. They have lots of legs and almost all are venomous – though the majority of species have venom too weak to cause issues in humans, if their fangs can pierce our skin at all. Evenentomologists themselves can fall prey to arachnophobia. I know a few spider researchers who overcame their fear by observing and working with these fascinating creatures. If they can do it, so can you!
And we can’t forget Lucas, the cute animated spider curing arachnophobia all over the world:
Live and let live, as the saying goes. Or, just don’t think about it too much.
According to my 7yo nephew, Santa turns himself into a spider to get back up chimneys. He would turn into a mouse, but mice don’t climb so well.
— Mike Tryon (@themiketryon) December 18, 2018
— Honest Cards (@honest_cards) December 17, 2018
— Alwaght (@EnglishAlwaght) October 24, 2016
Cover image via Getty Images