Tis that spooky time of year! While getting out the Halloween decorations, you probably have spiderwebs on the mind. We thought we would identify and describe 3 different kinds of spider webs: Orb web, Tangle web or Cobweb, and Molt Mat web.
Orb webs are the most common type of web and the one most people think of when they picture a spider web. They are created by orb weaver spiders. This type of web is comprised of a very strong external frame that’s joined in the center to create spokes. These spokes are then joined together with a spiraling elastic thread to create a large surface area for capturing prey. Typically, these webs are created overnight and have to be rebuilt or repaired often by the orb weaver. Orb weaver spiders are known to be very docile and non-aggressive. They will flee at the first sign of a threat by running or dropping from their web. They are beneficial because they catch and eat lots of pest-type insects. Fun fact: some species of orb weaver will tear down and eat most of the silk from their webs to reabsorb the moisture plus consume any dew that might have settled on the web during the night.
Tangle webs or cobwebs are most commonly seen indoors in areas with low to no traffic, especially in corners. While they appear messy and disorganized, they’re actually created that way. They’re frequently anchored to the top of a structure and have many different threads hanging down off of it. The convoluted design of cobwebs is what makes them so effective. There are sticky droplets at the end of the dangling strings that sit right at floor level, acting as a snare. When an insect walks across this thread and breaks it, it is simultaneously stuck and lifted up into the web by the contracting thread. Once it reaches the web, it’s quickly subdued by the spider. The spiders that make tangle webs are from the Theridiidae family, which has more than 3000 species. These species range anywhere from common and harmless house spiders to very venomous spiders like the black widow. Fun fact: there is cobweb spinner called the Hawaiian happy face spider!
The last web we’ll discuss is an interesting and unique one: the molting mat. This is predominantly a tarantula made web. They are thick mats of webbing that are laid out on the ground where a tarantula intends to flip over onto its back and begin molting. Molting ususally takes place a few days after the molting mat is constructed, and webs are usually left behind once molting is completed. Molt mats serve two main purposes for tarantulas. First and foremost, they provide a comfortable place for the tarantula to begin the uncomfortable process of molting. This is important as freshly-molted spiders are very fragile. This mat also allows tarantulas to detect vibrations, which will alert them if any predators are nearby. Although tarantulas get a bad wrap, they are some of the least aggressive and dangerous spiders around. Fun fact: because they molt throughout their lives, tarantulas have the ability to repair any damage they’ve sustained. They can even replace lost limbs!
We hope that you enjoyed learning about 3 more different types of webs and the spiders that make them. We at the Bugyman want to wish you a happy and safe Halloween!