More than 30,000 species of spiders are known to exist. Some spiders build webs to trap their prey while others lie in wait to capture their next meal. Of those that build webs, some are master architects and others simply construct webs that are not much more than a tangled mess. There’s more to a spider web than meets the eye. Here are some interesting facts about spiders and their webs.
Deconstructing the web
Female spiders are the main web builders. Many males only build webs when they are young. Spiders spin their webs from silk that is actually formed inside their body. Spiders use their hind legs to pull the silk out of two openings in their body called spinnerets. Web-building spiders have three claws on their feet, whereas spiders that do not build webs have only two. The extra claw is designed to help them pull out the silk and to provide a more firm grip as they travel over and around their web.
The spider web is constructed from two different types of silk – sticky and non-sticky. The sticky part of the web is used for trapping prey, while the non-sticky area gives the web its support and strength. To avoid being caught in their own web, spiders avoid walking on the sticky part of the web.
The versatile spider web
The web is primarily used to capture insects and other pests that make up their main food source, but it has other uses as well. Web-building spiders lay their eggs within their web. They completely enclose the eggs in an “egg sac” made of silk to protect the eggs from predators. Some species of spiders use their web to travel from one area to another. This is known as “ballooning.” Spiders that nest on or near ground level build a web to use as a protected entrance to their nesting site.
Spider-specific spider webs
Spiders such as the orb weaver have terrible eyesight and build their webs almost completely through feel and touch. They build the foundation of the web with the non-sticky silk first, then apply patches of the sticky silk over the top, in strategic locations throughout the web. Some spiders, such as the appropriately named funnel web spider, build their webs in the shape of a cone or funnel. Once an unsuspecting meal walks or flies into the funnel, they cover the prey with numerous strands of silk to prevent it from escaping. Your average house spider tends to build webs that are loosely organized and irregularly shaped.
The strength of the silk used to build a web is stronger than steel of the same weight. Because of the strength and elasticity of the spider’s silk, scientists are looking at the possibility of using this material to make artificial tendons and bulletproof vests. Spider webs are an amazing feat of nature, that is, until spiders decide to build them in or around your home. If they do, call your Terminix® pest management professional. Even the spider’s engineering expertise can’t withstand treatment from our service technicians.