Using spiders as environmentally-friendly pest control
Groups of spiders could be used as an environmentally-friendly way to protect crops against agricultural pests. According to new research, led by the University of Portsmouth, which suggests that web-building groups of spiders can eat a devastating pest moth of commercially important crops like tomato and potato worldwide. The tomato leafminer moth, Tuta absoluta, has developed resistance to chemical insecticides, which cause human and environmental damage, so different approaches, like using natural predators such as spiders, are needed to combat infestations. Climate change due to human overpopulation and fossil fuel dependence is facilitating the spread of invasive pest species of agricultural crops, such as the tomato leafminer, by expanding their habitable environment ranges. Tropical tent web spiders are found in colonies around the world and their global range overlaps with regions of moth infestations, including Mediterranean Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, whose environmental health and economic stability could greatly benefit from this sustainable agricultural approach. Also, as these spiders are already found in these regions, the introduction of pest control spiders will be unlikely to significantly damage native biodiversity.