Morning landscapes draped with condensation reveal the silken works of spiders all around. All spiders spin silk, even the name spider originated from the word “spinder”. Spider silk is a protein liquid that solidifies when pulled out from the spider’s spigot-like spinnerets (finger-like projections at the end of the spider’s abdomen).
Different spiders use silk for different purposes: continuous lines of silk (draglines) and egg sacs, parachutes to catch the wind (ballooning) and wrapping for their prey, resting retreats, and hunting webs. Of the spiders that do use webs to catch prey, there are four general categories of webs – head out on a misty morning and see how many you can find!
Orbwebs are made up of lines of silk radiating from a central point overlaid with a sticky silk spiral. Spiders hang in the non-sticky center or sides of the web, waiting to feel the vibrations of prey.
Cobwebs are an irregular jumble of silk threads, often tucked into nooks and crannies. Spiders usually sit in the center of the web waiting for their prey to trip their sticky silk snares.
Funnel webs are flat webs with a funnel-shaped opening at one end. The spider lurks in this funnel tunnel, waiting to dart and grab entangled prey.
Sheet webs can be a flat, convex, or concave. Spiders often perch inverted below the sheet. When insects become trapped in the irregular silk threads above the sheet, the spider shakes the web until they fall onto the sheet. The spider then bites through the sheet web and pulls through their meal.