Spider webs

spider-web-1030877_1280A 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    Orb webSpiral or orb web








Funnel web

Funnel web



Tubular webs which run up the bases of trees or along the ground hole web




Flat webs


Sheet web


Sheet webs







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.”




25 thoughts on “Spider webs”

  1. Spiders are such useful creatures, although those that are rather big do make me a little uneasy. I would never harm one, though. They eat all the creatures that I really don’t want in my house!

    1. Exactly! We spotted three little egg cases hanging in a partially destroyed web in the window the other day – Mama is gone but hopefully the babies will hatch in the spring!

      1. We don’t have tarantulas in New Zealand, but when I was in the States a friend – when he had visitors from New Zealand used the open the cupboard next to the dining table and throw in the chicken bones to “feed the tarantula”. Of course, his guests would go quite white with fear. It was his party trick!

  2. Wonderful post, Noelle. I love spider webs too. They’re so graceful and beautiful…my house is full of them! 🙂 I didn’t know there were different types of silks, but it makes sense. Thanks for researching an sharing. Have a great day.

  3. I used to be terrified of spiders. I still don’t like them, but I don’t panic any more. I’d never hurt one. It’s considered bad luck in UK. I wonder where fear of spiders comes from? So many people have it.

    1. Probably from seeing tarantulas in movies! I have to admit, some of the wolf spiders I’ve encountered have elicited a healthy respect – – make that anxiety. I’ve had some fierce spider bites, but still admire them!

  4. I also have always been mesmerized by spiders; well, by their webs. Spiders do give me the shivers, but I NEVER kill one. Like you, I place it away from me. 🙂 But webs. They are a beautiful example of the wonder and mystery of life. I snapped a photo of a web outside our deck years ago in CA, in which the dew left lacy drops on each webbed line. That framed photo has moved with us from location to location and I look at it every day to remember the wonder of life. Last year when we stayed in Hawaii, I found a web that must have been four feet round. During a tropical wind and rain storm, it was fascinating watching how that web just flowed with the wind and stayed intact. We all can learn a lesson from that.

    1. Wonderful observations, Pam. I spend a lot of time in the autumn walking around spider webs because the mama spiders need to catch insects to put in their egg cases to overwinter. would have loved to see that 4 foot round web! Thanks for following my blog – much appreciated!

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