What is spider's silk?
Author: Lauri McDonald, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Spiders create silk for webs inside silk glands in their abdomen. Both
male and female spiders can do this. There are at least seven different glands that produce
different kinds of silk: Some of the silk is sticky; some is not. Some
silk is rigid while some is flexible and stretchy.
These silks are secreted from organs called spinnerets, located
at the tip of the abdomen. The spider can move these spinneretes around,
up and down, to attach and orient the silk as it comes out. Just look at a
spider web to see how this control leads to very complicated
Ever wonder why web designs are so
different? It's because each design is
supposed to do one, specific job extremely well. Some webs catch bugs,
some protect the spider from being eaten by birds and lizards(yum)! Some
webs just hold eggs and newly hatched baby spiders. One kind of spider
builds a tunnel and trap door out of silk to hide in and ambush prey.
Many spiders travel using their silk. They send out a single, long strand
that is attached only to themselves. The wind picks it up, and lifts the
spider up into the air to fly to another part of the area where there
aren't so many other spiders all trying to catch and eat the same bugs.
This silk is actually a class of proteins called
More questions and activities:
Why doesn't a spider get stuck to its own web?
Simulate your own project to show why spiders don't get stuck.
|Web page created by Lauri McCormick McDonald
||July 14, 2000
Copyright ©2000 |
Department of Polymer Science
| University of