The brilliance of spiders


Spiders are brilliant creatures. They create engineering marvels, known as spiderwebs. The spiderwebs perform as designed, with the goal being to snare food for the spider, which doesn’t have to chase and catch its future dinner, unlike most other species. So what makes a spiderweb so successful?

Well, for one thing, spiders can produce a silk that is stronger than steel. In fact, it is considered to be five times as strong as steel at an equivalent weight. Spiders use different thread, depending on the purpose of the thread. They create bridges, anchors, spiral thread, and more. In the center of the web, there is “capture thread.” That is the only thread in the entire web that is sticky. Its purpose is to snare any insect that may have accidentally gotten caught up in the web. Oh, and by the way, there are people who mistakenly think that spiders are insects. They aren’t. To be classified as an insect, the animal must have two main qualities: an exoskeleton and six legs at some point in its development. Spiders have exoskeletons but they always have eight legs and, therefore, are arachnids, not insects. 

For more information about the construction of spiderwebs, here is a link to a really cool article about the construction of spiderwebs.

Humans are so fascinated by the success of spider webs that they want to reproduce the technology. Engineers have been studying sticky thread because, no matter what lands in it, it is always taut. Engineers have studied the concept of “liquid wire” construction. It extends as if it were solid, and it compresses as if it were liquid. Hence, the sticky web, which can capture some fairly heavy insects, can revert to its original shape once the spider has eaten its prey. Here is a link to an article that gives more information about liquid wire.

The fascination with spiderwebs has led to engineers and designers making the attempt to replicate spiderwebs. One example of that is a bridge in Sheffield, England, called the Cobweb or Spider Bridge. It is a suspension bridge that was actually designed to resemble a spiderweb. And it does. There is even a metal spider attached to this bridge. How cool is that?

Well, anyway, according to the cliche, imitation is the highest form of flattery. And the fact that people are trying to replicate the work of spiders indicates that spiders are really very successful creatures.

7 thoughts on “The brilliance of spiders”

  1. Yes I guess they are quite successful! I don't think I knew any of those facts about spiders. That's cool about the bridge. And even the idea that engineers want to replicate what they do!

  2. Spiders are amazing! If I find them in the house, I put them out. If I find them outside I let them be, the only exception being black widows. They are such beauties.

  3. pamtheamericandogrunner

    A lot of people my Mom included don't like spiders BUT this article is a reason to like them….they are brilliant and for such a tiny creature they accomplish a lot. You mention their webs are to catch their food, ok I kinda knew this already BUT since so many times humans run into their webs and all- are they looking to have their biggest meal and have all their spider friends over for a human meal? LOL! I keep thinking of a similar-looking spider living right outside my back door that I can't bring myself (especially now- thank you, Alice! LOL!) to knock down and all, if anything I will move him/ her to the tree in the middle of the yard. Up high on a branch or such, to spin there web and catch their food. Spiders in catching their food- will help with the buggy backyards as the gnats fly around and caught in their webs. Just "food" for thought!?!?!?!

  4. Like all animals I am sure Spiders are good in there own way but I prefer not to be around them. Both my son and I are terrified of them. But I have seen some pretty neat look Spider webs they have made.

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