Bats are a symbol of terror and disease to people the world over. At the very least, they give many people the heebie-jeebies. Nobody can argue with bat's success though--bats make up 1/5 of all mammalian species, and have few natural enemies. New evidence reveals the flying mammals have natural enemies even more loathed even than bats themselves: spiders.
It turns out that spiders prey on bats the world over. Biologists have known for a long time that the occasional bat will get caught in a spider web and die of exhaustion, dehydration, or starvation. However, recent studies have shown some spider species specifically preying on small bats, which led researchers to guess bat predation may be more common than previously believed.
The researchers analyzed 100 years worth of scientific reports and other resources to discover at least 52 cases of bat-catching spiders world-wide. Most bat predators live in the warmer regions of the Earth, around the equator. Most hunt with webs. Giant orb weavers with 4-6 inch leg spans might weave webs up to 5 feet in diameter to catch bats. A minority of bat hunting spiders did so without webs, preying on juvenile bats who fell to the forest floor.
The bulk of bats preyed upon were small insect-eating species, and they're usually the most common in their area.