35. Squirting, Spinning, Spitting and Swallowing Spiders 3


Cobweb covered with dew at sunriseI have a this much younger little brother, a so called afterthought.
As we speak, this little brother is almost twice my size and weight, but you know how it works with little baby brothers…

Once upon a time, when my little brother actually was little, he bended my ears about everything.
He must have been around three or four years old, when he asked me:
“Sis, do you know how they do it?”
“Ehrm…. how who do what?”
“Well…. How a spider spins a web between two trees?

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to answer this question back then and my friend Google hadn’t been born yet.

About a year later -my little brother still being little- we walked the campsite in the dark, after having brushed our teeth.
Along the path was a little white, brightly lit tent and because of the lighting inside, the silhouettes of two lovers created a rather eye-catching shadow play.
I was just wondering how to explain this scene to my very little brother, when he opened the conversation himself;
“Sis, I know exactly how they do it!”
“Ehrm, really, do you..?!”
“Yeah, they just spit a pellet with a thread to another tree and that’s how they build their web!”
“…..”

Very, very occasionally -especially when photographing spiders- this question comes up again.
In the meantime, my brother has grown big and Google has grown even bigger.
His interest for spiders has somewhat subsided, but Google is always there for me, so I asked him the same question my brother did.
“How does a spider bridge the distance between two trees?”
“Would he actually spit?”
“Or would he just jump from tree to tree, like a professional Spiderman?”
“Google…?”

For a short while, Google didn’t seem to understand me.

Did you mean: How spiders make a living?
Spider silk is stronger than steel, tougher than Kevlar and more elastic than the both of them.
Up until now we haven’t come even close to creating something alike, so this spider silk must be worth a fortune and therefore spiders must be filthy rich.

Did you mean: How spiders make babies?
Well, I guess that must be in little brightly lit tents at campsites?

Did you mean: How spiders see the world?
This probably strongly depends on what state they’re in, on caffeine, on LSD, or just sober.

Did you mean: How does a spider spin a web between two trees?
Yes! That’s what I meant!
Please Google, tell….

A spider has spinnerets, that excrete silk and they are able to produce different kinds of threads.
Non sticky ones to walk on and thinner, gluey threads to stick to the preys.

Some spiders bombard their preys with spider silk, or even an entire web.
These so called Spitting Spiders (Scytodidae ) go to extremes.
They squirt a double, sticky thread on their prey that instantly fixes them.

Point taken, Google, squirting spiders come close to spitting spiders, but it’s not the same, is it?
How about the thread from tree to tree?

Sheet Weavers (Linyphiidae) can be found almost everywhere, due to their ability to float through the air. They use spider silk as a kite, to fly high through the sky.

But most spiders can’t fly. Right, Google?
Good story, but no answer to my question.

Spiders are capable of turning liquid silk into solid threads.
They use their spinnerets to release silk threads into the air.
Spider silk is lightweight and can be carried by the slightest breeze.
Due to static electricity, it it can stick to a tree or little twigs.
As soon as this first thread is created, the spider can use it to walk to the second tree and so on, as shown in this animation.

Thanks again, Google!

So, spiders don’t spit, but they actually do swallow; occasionally they eat their old cobwebs and recycle them into a shiny new one!

That amount of ingenuity in such a tiny creature should even get an arachnophobe enthusiastic, isn’t it?

cobweb_light
How does a spider spin a web between two trees?

cobweb_sunrise
Some spiders squirt a double, sticky thread on their prey that instantly fixes them

spider

Some spiders use spider silk as a kite, to fly high through the sky

spiderweb_bokeh

Some spiders bombard their preys with spider silk, or even an entire web

spiderweb_dew

Spiders are capable of turning liquid silk into solid threads

Close up of a spider web covered with dew drops, reflecting the trees in the landscape

Spider silk is lightweight and can be carried by the slightest breeze

spider_dew

A spider has spinnerets, that excrete silk and they are able to produce different kinds of threads

 

 

 

 

 



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 thoughts on “35. Squirting, Spinning, Spitting and Swallowing Spiders

  • Reply
    Anthony Parr

    Hi Roeselien,
    Now that you are back from Costa Rica its time for some homework.

    I have been receiving your blogs for quite some time and enjoy your photos and your prose,

    I have just published a book about foxes crossing the border from Mexico to Casa Grande AZ USA,

    also I have launched a website ‘ginkgoleafpublishing’

    Shortly I will be publishing a book of Thirty Short Stories by people that I know… like you!

    Travel, nature, art and…
    5 to 20 pages

    Ready February for publication March 2021

    For you I suggest:
    All things bright and beautiful…
    Prose and pics of Flying short eared owl
    Gull in snowstorm
    Reflection in blue
    Starling murmuration
    Spider
    Robin in winter
    Fox friendly
    A small remuneration but a little fun in writing a story to go between the covers of an eclectic mix

    Your friends, customers and nature lovers in the Netherlands and abroad all will be delighted in seeing what nature looks like through your lens.

    All the best, stay safe and look forward to your joining us.

    Anthony Parr
    Bellevue WA
    and Palm Desert CA

    • Reply
      admin Post author

      Hi Anthony,

      Could you please send me the information by mail? 😀

      Comments here on my site tend to get overlooked…;)

      Kind regards,
      Roeselien