Most spiders use webs to trap their prey. Some spiders catch up to 250 insects a day in their web. Spiders use the hairs on their legs to detect web vibrations, which might indicate that their prey has landed on the web.
Spider webs are made of durable silk from their spinnerets and silk-producing glands located on their abdomen.
Some spiders make a new web every day and other spider webs can last for several weeks.
To make a web, a spider must think about its location, the best anchor points, size, and weather conditions, such as wind, rain, frost, and snow.
There are about 40,000 different known species of spiders. Different spiders make different shaped webs, such as thread webs; spiral webs; cobwebs (tangled webs); funnel webs; sheet webs, and canopy webs.
A thread web is usually a single line or a few lines of silk, designed to catch minute insects. It is also used like a tightrope, enabling the spider to walk along and then drop another thread downwards, so that it can land onto an insect below.
A spiral web, orb web, or wheel-shaped web has spokes for anchor points and lines that connect the spokes together. It is relatively symmetrical, neat, and vertical, capturing prey that fly into the sticky web. Some spiral webs have a ladder structure, called a stabilimentum, that keeps the web stable. Most spiders in the Araneidae family make a spiral web.
A cobweb or tangled web looks unstructured and untidy. It is vertical or at an angle, such as in a corner of a house or building. The cobweb has anchor points with a messy group of sticky threads in between. Most spiders in the Theridiidae family, such as house spiders and the black widow, make a cobweb.
A funnel or tunnel web is horizontal, large, thick, and flat, with an opening at one end. It is strong and may last for weeks. The spider waits for its prey to come close, and then it ambushes the prey. The spider runs fast to grab its prey, and take it to the tunnel. Most spiders in the Agelenidae family, such as grass spiders, make a funnel web.
A sheet web, canopy web, dome web or tent web is usually large, flat, horizontal and made of many layers of silk. It is strong and may last for weeks. Most spiders in the Linyphiidae family make a sheet web.
A hammock web, or bowl web, is a hanging web, which is strong and may last for weeks. Its anchor points are on a branch above, and the hammock is made below. Spiders in the Linyphiidae family also make a hammock web.
Not all spiders use a web – wolf spiders and jumping spiders do not use a web.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
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