A spider web, often called cobweb, is a structure of thread-like silk created by spiders typically for catching their prey.
As mentioned before, the spider web is made of silk, which is a natural fiber covered with a sticky layer of protein, fatty acids, salts, and organic molecules. Most spider species possess three pairs of silk-spinning glands called spinnerets, which thrust out spider silk. Spiders are able to produce six types of silk, including the ‘fluffy’ capture silk and ‘sticky’ capture silk.
The term ‘spider web’ is generally used by biologists for referring to a structure that is clean and still in use, while the term ‘cobweb’ refers to an abandoned web that has become dusty. Cobweb also indicates the tangled three-dimensional spider webs of some species belonging to the Theridiidae family, which includes Redback spider, Common house spider, Brown widow, and Western black widow.
A spider species is usually categorized depending on the type of web it weaves. The following are the types of spider webs that are spotted in the wild.
1. Spiral Orb Web
The most common among all the spider webs, it is associated with spiders belonging to the family Araneidae, Tetragnathidae, and Uloboridae. Its design is similar to a spoked wheel. Some species that weave orb webs include
2. Cobweb or Tangle Web
This type of web lacks symmetry, with the threads being joined to support. It is associated with spiders of the Theridiidae family, which includes
3. Funnel Web
It is a flat, horizontal web that has openings at both ends, which provide the spider with an escape route. The following spiders belonging to the Agelenidae family weave funnel webs.
4. Sheet Web
It is a flat sheet of silk with crisscrossed thread, occurring between branches or blades of grass. This type of spider web is associated with the Linyphiidae family, which includes
5. Tubular Web
It is similar to a funnel web but found either on the ground or the base of trees. The following are the tube-dwelling spiders that belong to the Segestriidae family.
Q: How strong is a spider web?
Scientists have found out that spider silk of a certain weight is approximately five times stronger than steel of the same weight. Spider silk, being much less dense, has a tensile strength of about 1.3 GPa while that of steel is 1.65 GPa.
Q: Do male spiders spin webs?
Adult male spiders only construct webs needed for courtship and induction of sperms. However males of some species such as the Bowl and Doily Spider and Uloborid Spider build webs.
Q: Do all spiders make webs?
Although all spider species produce silk, only half of them make a web. Spider species, such as crab spider, trap door spider, wolf spider, and jumping spider, do not make webs for hunting prey.
Q: Do spiders eat their webs? Yes, spiders may eat their web regularly to regain some of the energy they had lost while building it. In this way, the protein in spider silk is recycled.
Image Credits: Nhm.ac.uk