As a child I really did not like cobwebs. Going with my father in the woods for mushrooms, I didn’t worry about meeting a snake or a wild animal out there, but I was scared of spiders’ webs. You walk peacefully through the woods, and suddenly you feel a touch of something sticky, unpleasant and frightening on your face. Imagination immediately draws a terrible and horrible spider that will now jump on you and ... And what could such a small spider do to, though small, but compared with it, a big girl?
The girl grew up and, though still doesn’t like spiders, especially the large ones, she is no longer afraid of their webs. On the contrary, a variety of designs and styles of the web, its strength and lightness at the same time, fascinates and amazes.
Spiders build an enormous variety of webs, all designed to capture their prey. The best known and most complex are the symmetrical orb webs. A typical web may have 20 m of silk, meeting at 1000 junctions. It weighs less than 0.5 mg, yet the spider it supports is 4000 times as heavy.
Hammock webs can reach up to 30 cm across. Any insect that blunders into the hammock or flies just above is tripped up by a maze of threads. The spider which has been waiting underneath grabs the insect from below and pulls it through the hammock, wrapping it in silk.
The web-casting spider spins a net the size of a postage stamp. The spider holds this cradle between its front legs. It then hangs upside down from a leaf and when a moth flutters by, the spider lurches forward and stretches the web taut, netting its victim.
The silk of a golden orb spider is the strongest natural fibre known; it can also stretch by a third before snapping.