If you ask some people, spiders do not serve any purpose other than to scare or gross us out. To see one crawling across the floor will send some people running out of the room. However, spiders serve many purposes that can help us.
Spiders are essential for keeping pests under control. They are excellent at protecting crops from destruction and will eat mosquitoes, flies, and roaches. Spider venom has been shown to include anti-cancer properties, and research is looking into this. The silk spun from spiders is more robust than steel and may make up body armour shortly.
Most spiders are venomous, some of which can cause severe issues in humans. But most spiders tend to keep to themselves and want to be left alone.
Spiders only react and bite if they feel threatened. Their presence is very beneficial to us, so if we understand what purpose they serve, perhaps we can coexist peacefully.
Why Do We Need Spiders?
Spiders are essential to the ecosystem. They keep the pest population under control, keep crops from being destroyed and people from being bitten, and prevent diseases from spreading. Without spiders, there would be a domino effect on our food supply, and we would have more diseases from pests that would be uncontrolled.
Despite what our minds may tell us when we see a spider, its primary purpose is not to scare us. Spiders are essential as they eat other bugs and insects. Their diet consists of insects we find indoors that are often annoying to us, like moths, flies, roaches, mosquitoes, and earwigs.
In addition to keeping our food supply chain in check and controlling the spread of diseases caused by pests, spiders benefit us in many ways.
Benefits of Venom
Most spiders have venom, but not all of it is dangerous to humans. There were only one hundred alleged deaths from spider bites in the entire 20th century. Most dangerous spiders shy away from humans; their bites might be painful but not deadly.
There is probably more fear about the Black widow and its venom than any other spider. A black widow’s bite can affect your nervous system. If bitten, you may feel severe pain, burning, swelling, and redness at the site, and you may experience nausea and muscle aches.
However, as bad as that sounds, Black widows’ venom may also help fight against cancer. Studies have shown that extracts from a newborn black widow may have anti-cancer qualities. It is thought to alter the cell morphology and decrease cell viability.
The research concluded that mass protein contained within the black widow spiderling extract might be developed as a novel treatment for cervical cancer.
Spider venom is also being studied as a possible painkiller that can be used in cases of strokes, muscular dystrophy or antivenom for other spider bites. Chilean scientists are studying the effect spider venom may have on erectile dysfunction.
The Fraser Island funnel-web spider has venom that can delay the effects of strokes. Tarantula venom may be able to be modified to produce a pain-killing protein that can potentially be an alternative to opiate pain relief. While many people are scared of spiders, further research will offer more benefits.
Spider Silk Armour
Scientists are studying spider silk to see how it can be made stronger. The lab-made silk can be used in nets or parachutes.
Spider silk is also used to make bullet-proof clothing. There is the potential it could replace Kevlar if able to be produced on a large scale and seen in the U.S. army in about ten years.
Because spider silk is made of a liquid with lots of protein, it dried to a solid material that can be shaped. Silk is stronger than steel, but it has not been tested to see if it can stop bullets because of the problems in getting enough silk.
Crops are essential for the food supply, and spiders can protect crops against aphids and caterpillars, which destroy them. Spiders are also beneficial to organic gardeners, as spiders will eat moths, mites, aphids, and weevils, thereby enabling the gardener to fight pests without pesticides.
Spiders are essential to the ecosystem. Found everywhere except Antarctica, spiders are crucial in controlling insect populations.
Spiders also help control diseases these pests may spread. Mosquitoes can cause malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, or Japanese encephalitis. Ticks can cause Lyme disease and meningoencephalitis.
While they are good predators and keep our food supply in check, they are also prey. Spiders serve as a food source for other animals, including lizards, birds, and fish.
In some countries, spiders are a delicacy. The Thailand Zebra Leg tarantula is known as the edible spider. It is found in Myanmar, Thailand, and Cambodia. It became a food source in Cambodia during the 1970s out of necessity due to the effects of the Vietnam War.
It was an easy source for people to catch, and compared to other spiders, it was palatable. It is high in protein, folic acid, and zinc. It is deep-fried and rolled in sugar or garlic as a delicacy.
While many people are scared of spiders, their benefits cannot be overlooked.
The next time you see a spider and feel the overwhelming need to kill it, stop and remember all of the great purposes it serves. Instead of squishing it next time, just let it go about its business.