You’ve seen them around, and odds are they have probably freaked you out once or twice, but there’s a lot more to spider webs than most people think.
Spiders use silk glands and spinnerets (a special spider organ) to spin their webs; the glands produce the silk, while the spinnerets help the spider decide which type of thread is best. That’s right: Each species of spider can create a unique type of web using different types of silk, with their choice of textures, diameters, and stickiness factor.
Check out all the different types of webs, and what each is used for:
Probably the most common type, orb webs are what most people will think about when they think “spider web.” Usually they are large, circular, more dense in the center, and have basic criss-crosses throughout that are spaced further apart toward the edges. Darwin’s bark spider of Madagascar makes the largest, strongest orb web on the planet.
Here’s a spider making a classic orb web:
Unlike orb webs that encircle a center-point, these webs feature strands of silk that apparently lack any form or specific logic. However, they work pretty darn well for catching insects. They are often found in areas of low light so the spider’s prey doesn’t catch on until it’s too late. Once they’ve been around long enough to capture enough dirt and dust, they become the cobwebs with which we’re all plenty familiar.
These webs get their name from their distinct conical shape. They are most commonly found in grassy fields around summertime, but can be spotted pretty much anywhere there’s a nice crevice. Funnel-web spiders typically hide at the base of the funnel and wait for prey to get caught in their trap.
This style of webbing works much like a hammock. The spider will string strands of silk above its webbed sheet; when insects fly into them they fall right into the spider’s trap below. As soon as the prey hits the silky sheet, the spider will pull it through and make a meal out of it.
Some spiders are born with the ability to spin a parachute that allows them to float off to a relatively distant land. Have a look at our article on these cool spiders and check out some video footage of their amazing ability.Whizzco