A recent post from Sue Vincent reminded me of how much I like spiders’ webs: their patterns, their beauty when limned with frost or dew, the delicacy with which they are spun. So I decided to learn about where them come from; here is what I found:
Spider webs are made of proteinaceous silk extruded from the spider’s spinnerets. These glands are located on the tip of the spider’s abdomen. Many spiders have three pairs of spinnerets, each producing a silk thread with a different purpose: trailed safety lines, sticky silk for trapping and fine silk for wrapping their prey. Some spider can produce up to eight different kinds of silk threads.
Spider webs have been around for a long time – at least 100 million years age—because they discovered in early Cretaceous amber in France, Burma and England. When spiders moved from water to the land in the Early Devonian period, their silk evolved initially to protect their bodies and eggs, then for hunting purposes. The silk threads were used as guide lines, then in webs on the ground and eventually as aerial webs.
Spiders can be classified by the webs they weave:
Spiral orb webs
Tubular webs which run up the bases of trees or along the ground
People have found some uses for webs, too. Years ago, webs were packed into wounds to stop bleeding. They have been used as fishing line in Polynesia, were made into nets for transporting objects, and some tribes in New Guinea have used the webs as rain hats. During World War II, the threads of the black widow were used in their telescopic gun sights.
Isn’t life amazing!?
I have a healthy respect for spiders and generally leave them alone. If I find one inside, I trap it and dump it outside; if I encounter them in the pool, I scoop them out. I like what Pablo Picasso had to say about artists and spider webs.
“The artist is a receptacle for the emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from theearth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.”