The Intricate Design of Spiders and Their Webs: What Are Spider Webs Made of
Spiders are one of the world’s most interesting creatures, they are one of those that are small but mighty and have a reputation of leaving people scared and afraid due to their vast amount of power within the animal kingdom. But spiders go beyond what we see in TV shows and movies and are actually extremely intelligent creatures especially when it comes to the specific design of spider webbing and the reasons behind why they create webs in the first place. Spiders come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors and each species has its own unique way of creating different types of spider webs according to their habitat and adaptations. In this article, we are going to look deeper into the various spider web material, how they make them and why.
What Are Spider Webs Made Of?
One of the biggest questions when it comes to spider webs is the material or product they are actually made out of, most people really have no idea and commonly just swipe through it as though it were dust.
However, spiders actually make their webs from silk, or spider’s silk to be exact, which is a natural fiber made of a specific type of protein. The interesting thing about this is that silk is both the most delicate as well as one of the strongest materials seen today. It is full of useful properties such as elasticity and strength but is also beautiful in its own right. The spider web strength is what really makes it stand out, as although thin and intricately designed it can without even the very harsh weather conditions seen within nature and the wild.
What Is Spider Silk Made Of?
So we now know that spiders make their webs using silk, but what exactly is this specific type of silk made out of that gives it such a long-lasting and durable effect? Silk, just like any other protein found in nature, both on land and in water, is made out of a chain of amino acids. The two primary amino acids found in spiders silk are glycine and alanine.
This combination is what produces the unimaginable strength of a spider’s web, making it stronger than both steel and kevlar. But the most interesting thing is that spiders silk although strong and stable actually has an amazing elasticity quality, giving it the ability to stretch as far as 30 times its original length, without breaking.
How Do Spiders Make Webs?
So how does a spider make a web? Firstly, making a web for a spider is something natural and almost instinctive, and are naturally gifted with the ability to form precise and highly functional patterns that turn into self-protective webs. Spiders mainly design their webs as a system for both offense and defense, they use it to shelter themselves and hide from prey as well as a strategy to catch their prey ad various resources needed for survival. It’s hard to explain how they actually go about making these webs in the first place but a lot of it has to do with their exact body structure.
Their 8 legs and multiple spinnerets are what really makes spider webs a possibility. The exact way a spider web is designed is all according to the type of spider species they are, but the process of the web making is often left unseen and happens in the darkest hours of the morning, hence why they just “suddenly appear.” Spider silk uses for web making all starts when the spider begins to pull the silk out of its gland using its fourth leg. The opposite leg then pulls additional silk until a large amount is collected and a balloon-like structure is formed. This is repeated multiple times, until the spider is happy with several of its attachment points in which it can then begin to create the intricate design within the center of the web, enlarging as it goes outwards.
Different Types of Spider Webs
When it comes to spider webs there is a large variety of different kinds, materials, and structures, often used as a key to identify spiders by web. Some of the most common types of spider webs include:
Spiel Orb Webs
These are the most common type of spider web and the ones you are most likely to identify first. It is the Araneidae species of spiders that create these webs and most commonly have a wheel-like structure to them. These webs are typically found outdoors and are weaved by spiders including the orange golden orb, silk spiders, and bolas spiders.
Sheet webs are often found outdoors usually hidden in the grass or amongst the trees. They appear as almost flat like sheets of silk with a net-like crisscrossed structure. Sheet webs are created by the Linyphiidae species of spiders and are commonly used to catch prey such as small insects that bounce off the net and land of the street as the spider awaits its arrival.
Another one of the interesting spider webs facts has a lot to do with funnel webs, a large and flat web with openings on both ends, carefully designed by the Agelenidae species of spider and is an essential element of how they catch their prey.
Triangle webs as per their name are formed in triangle shapes with spirals stemming from three structural points. The Uloborid family of spiders is responsible for the design of this web that creates a fuzzy-like web structure to make up for their lack of venom
Are Cobwebs and Spider Webs the Same?
A common misconception when it comes to webs is the confusion that spiders webs and cobwebs are the same. While they may appear to look slightly similar they are vastly different in many aspects. So are cobwebs made by spiders? While cobwebs are not solely made by spiders themselves they are a product of a spider’s existence, however, the material is comprised of debris and dust and often form as a way of catching unwanted pests. Cobwebs are designed and appear with irregular patterns and a tangled design, whereas spider webs are more elegant and sophisticated, serving a very specific and particular purpose.
To further your knowledge about spiders and their webs even more, here are some of the most common questions and their answers.
How Much Silk Can a Spider Produce?
Spiders have different types of glands that produce different types of silk, some have up to eight within their lifetime. They can produce as much or as little as they want to depend on their needs and how much they have replenished their sources by feeding off of prey.
Do Spiders Run Out of Web?
Continuing on from the last question, spiders will only run out of the web if they do not have enough resources in their glands to produce more, so the answer is no they do not run out of the material to build their webs.
Do Spiders Take Down Their Own Webs?
The answer to this question really depends on the exact species of spiders. Some spiders such as the orb-weaver build new webs every day and remove them each night. However, sometimes webs are dismantled due to unforeseen circumstances such as harsh weather conditions, predators, or humans. As well as this there is evidence to suggest that some spiders will actually consume their own webs once the job is done.
Do Male Spiders Spin Webs?
So do only female spiders spin webs? While the webbing behaviors of female and male spiders differ, male spiders have all the properties and capabilities to create webs. Male spiders often create smaller webs as they are typically smaller in size than female spiders. Females on the other hand usually create much large and more impressive web structures and are largely responsible for catching the majority of the prey.
Why Are Spider Webs Sticky?
The silk that a spider produces often has a sticky-like glue feel to it, this has a lot to do with how do spiders catch their prey and is an exact and particular adaptation that they naturally possess. This sticky feature is necessary as it ensures that not only will their prey get entangled within their webs intricate design but also remain stuck while the spider makes a move to catch it. This stickiness, however of a spider’s web is largely due to its habitat and the weather conditions it resides in.
Do Jumping Spiders Make Webs?
Jumping spiders are a great example of spiders that don’t make webs, they don’t make webs for a number of reasons, but most importantly because they don’t need to. Jumping spiders have an amazing capability of hunting and catching their prey using their abilities to make spectacular leaps. They do however use their web-making abilities to create small silk shelter within trees, either under leaves or in between branches as a way to protect themselves when not hunting for prey.
What Have We Learned?
From this, you can see just how vastly specific and intelligent the spider species actually are. Not only have you learned about their unique abilities to create floating spider webs, triangle webs netted webs, and many many more but also about how they do it and why their design and structure are so impeccably accurate and successful. Spiders are much more than just creatures we need to be scared of, and although powerful and in some cases actually dangerous they are extremely elegant and almost regal in their natural behaviors within the world of nature and its various habitats and ecosystems.
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