Scientists have started using a new technique to study the insects that end up in a spider’s web. While in the past researchers would simply shake a tree canopy and wait for spiders to fall out so they could study them, among other crude methods, today researchers are able to simply scan the DNA in a spider web, a much less invasive technique. Using this DNA detection method, researchers are able to valuable information about the insects that get trapped in their webs. The DNA from the prey can be detected over 88 days after the insect is no longer trapped in the web. With spiders building webs in so many places, researchers can perform broad environmental monitoring using these DNA scans for research, as well as to be able to estimate which prey species of insects are present in a certain area. This could lead to better insect control overall, as well as help monitoring specific pest insects. The possibilities are endless with this new DNA scanning technology.
Can you see the benefit of being able to monitor the prey insects in an area through studying a spider’s web? What do you think of this new technology?