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Spider Webs

Spiders are classified according to their way of life.  Web-Spinning Spiders spin webs to trap insects because their vision is not very good.  They know when prey is trapped on their web by detecting and reacting to the vibrations the line makes from their prey moving and trying to get free.  Hunting Spiders run after insects or lie in wait for them.  Some hunting spiders spin simple webs that stretch out along the ground to catch  insects.  These spiders are grouped as hunters because they run after the insects that land in their webs.
This article will deal with silk of spider webs as well as different types of webs and how various spiders use these webs in their daily lives.  Did you know that each spider can produce several different types of silk?

Size and Purpose of Webs    Silk of Web    Silk Properties

If you need help with eliminating and preventing the formation of spider webs in and around the home, in boats or other vehicles, read about Cobweb Eliminator.
Other articles of interest, for both spider control needs and general spider information:

Spiders    Control of Nuisance Spiders   Black Widow Spider   Bites and Stings 
Brown Recluse Spiders    Brown Recluse Bite

Size, Shape and Purpose of Webs

Webs have different purposes, according to the individual species of spider, how it captures or stores its prey.  Spider's silk can be used to help small, young spiders transport to new areas (ballooning) or be so strong that it is used to make fish nets, as with the Nephila spider web.  Other types of spider webs and their silk discussed here:

A Spiders Web is made from silk.  Spiders are the only animals that use silk in their daily lives.  Spiders have seven pairs of silk spinning organs or glands called “spinnerets” located either in the middle or at the end of their abdomen.  Each spinneret on the spider is different from the other and used for making several 
kinds of silk: attachment disk silk (leaves a zigzag pattern and gives strength to the dragline), a strong dragline or safety line silk (gives the spider an anchor point), orb web spiral line (gives the web strength and stretchiness to catch flying prey), 
glue-like sticky catching silk (traps and keeps captured prey on the web), swathing silk (for wrapping and immobilizing prey), tangling cribellate silk (tangles the bristles, spines and claws of prey) and a protective egg sac silk (to keep baby spiders safe).

The silk is produced as a liquid, but emerges from the glands as solid silk fibers when the spider moves away from the attachment point.  A spider’s silk line is only .001-.004 mm thick.  Amino acids and protein crystals help the silk maintain its stretchiness, stiffness and strength.  
The silk that spiders produce are used for building webs, catching prey, storing food, escaping from danger, making egg sacs, sending and receiving vibrating signals and for transportation on silken  ropes called “ballooning” as the spider floats through the air on the strand of silk.  This ballooning technique ensures that young spiders are scattered about.  If all young were to remain in one tight area, many could starve from lack of food for number of spiders and insects in a given area. 
silk strands are stronger than steel strands of the same thickness.  The silk of the Nephila spider is the strongest natural fiber known to man and is used to make tote bags and fish nets.   In a specific species, spiders can use their web to capture an air bubble; with this bubble the spider can survive and hunt under water where other spiders and insects would drown.

Web-Spinning Spiders        SPIDER WEB PICTURES 

Web-Spinning spiders only use the tips of their legs when creating their webs so that their body doesn’t come in contact with the web and get stuck.  They use a middle claw and the bristles on their leg tips to hang onto a single thread that keeps them balanced until their web is fully made.

An Orb web is the most common type of spider web and looks like a wheel with spokes.  It consists of outer frame lines, radial or spoke-like lines and spiral lines.  The outer frame is made up of a bridge line and two anchor lines that come together to form an upside down triangle.  Three frame threads connect the corners together and from there spoke like lines are made connecting all of the threads together.
The spiral lines are created last, starting in the very center of the web and moving outward, so that the spider can use its sticky catching silk heavily throughout the web.  Orb webs are created by orange garden orb weaving spiders, banded orb 
weaving spiders, golden orb weaving spiders, humped or silver orb weaving spiders, arrowhead-shaped micrathenals, bolas spiders, marbled spiders, silk spiders, spiny-body spiders, shamrock orbs and labyrinth spiders, who spins both the orb 
web and the tangled web.

Tangled Web Spiders

Tangled spider webs consist of a shapeless jumble of threads  attached to a support such as the corner of a ceiling.  Cobwebs are tangled webs that have collected dust and dirt.  Cellar spiders, the comb-footed spiders (included black and brown widow spiders), the ogre-faced stick spiders and common house spiders are spiders that make these types of webs. 

Sheet Webs

Sheet webs are flat sheets of silk between blades of grass or branches of shrubs or trees. Spiders that create sheet webs also spin a net of crisscrossed threads above the sheet.  When a flying insect hits the net, it bounces into the sheet web.  The 
spider, which hangs upside down beneath the web, quickly runs to the insect and pulls it through the webbing.  Sheet webs last a long time because the spider repairs any damaged parts.  The bowl & doily spider, the filmy dome spider, and the platform spider form sheet webs.

Gum-footed Webs

Gum-footed webs consist of tightly woven silk strands attached between two branches.  The upper strands are dry and built in sheltered areas away from sunlight while the lower strands are built in exposed area and run down to a bottom branch where they are attached.  Each of the lower sticky strands are covered in sticky droplets and are attached weakly at the bottom.  When an insect walks into the sticky silk strands its struggle break the lines moving the web upwards and lifting the prey off the ground reducing its chances of escaping. 
Redback spiders create gum-footed webs.

Horizontal Line Webs

Horizontal Line Webs are made up of one simple line of sticky droplets stretching across low vegetation, bark and leaf litter.  Spiders that create this type of web pull the line taut by keeping the slack silk underneath them until an insect hits the line.  When that happens, the loose silk whips along the line and tangles the prey.  Cribellate spiders and other pea-sized spiders create these webs. 

Bolas Spider Web

The Bolas Spider Web is a very simple web designed for their unique method of hunting.  In order to hunt and catch male moths, the bolas spider sits on a horizontal line and spins a single line with a sticky silk tip that dangles from its leg.  While 
waiting, this spider will emit a scent similar to a female moth.  When the male moth comes toward the spider, the spider swings the sticky strand in a circle and captures the moth, pulling the strand in to feed.

Triangle Webs

Triangle Webs are created in the shape of a triangle, hence its name.  The spider weaves silky strands of spokes and spirals that connect to all three strands.  The triangle spider waits at one end of the web for an insect to land.  When it does, the 
spider shakes the web so the insect is caught and cannot escape.

Hunting Spiders

Funnel Web spiders construct large, flat, horizontal webs of non-sticky silk with a funnel at one end in grassy areas.  The funnel is open at both ends so the spider can escape if necessary.  When the spider feels the vibration of is prey, it dashes out, bites the insect and carries it back to the funnel.
Funnel web spiders are also known as grass spiders.

Nursery Web Spider

The Nursery Web spider is considered a hunting spider because it only builds a web when laying her eggs.  She carries her eggs in a silk sac close to her body until just before they hatch.  The egg sac is then attached to a leaf and a web is built around it.
The female spider then stands guard nearby until spiderlings hatch from their eggs.

Pictures of Spider Webs


  • SHEET WEB                 sheet-web.jpg (96986 bytes)


  • FILMY DOME WEB Filmy Dome Spider Web


  • FUNNEL WEB            Funnel Spider Web


  • ORB SPIDER WEB     Orb Spider Web

Pest Control Information    Pest Control Supplies    Topics Site Map    Spider Information   
Spider Control
    Cobweb Elimination    Black Widow Spider    Bites and Stings  
 Brown Recluse Spider     Bite of Brown Recluse     Spider Webs