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The Spider's Parlour

Fascinating Facts


Frequently Asked Questions

Melbourne's Spiders

Writing Scientifically
Make your own:
Climbing spider
Spider web
Red-back spider


Spider Silk

Spiders’ silk spinning organs are called "spinnerets". Each spinneret has numerous silk outlets, called "spigots". Both spinnerets and spigots can be many different shapes and sizes and produce several different types of silk.

When liquid silk is extruded from the silk glands (controlled by internal pressure changes, muscular valves, and external pulling), it is forced through the narrow exit channel of a spigot and the silk molecules are physically re-arranged to produce a solid silk line.

A silk line gets its elasticity from its spring-like chain structure of molecules that stretches when pulled. Its strength comes from pleated molecules that form hard, crystalline ‘bricks’ within the line.

The Carrai Cave Spider uses enlarged claws on its front legs to scoop up living prey, such as guano moths and beetles, onto a woolly silk ‘platform’ which immediately wraps tightly around it.

Web spinning spiders rely on vibrations of the web’s silk lines to tell  what is going on around them. The spiders can tell the difference between different sorts of vibrations and where they are coming from in the web.

The Orb Weaver’s web design provides a snare with a large catching area that requires a minimum of silk and time to build. Slung in spaces between shrubs or trees, they are very difficult for flying insects to see and avoid. Thousands of sticky silk droplets on the web’s spiral line glue struggling insects onto the web, preventing their escape.

Orb webs must be strong and elastic. Catching a fast flying insect in an orb web is like snaring a jet fighter.

Spiders only grip their webs with the middle claw and a few bristles on the tips of their legs. Being on tippy-toes makes sure they don’t get stuck. Spiders may also apply an ‘anti-stick’ substance when they groom their legs with their mouthparts.

Spiders & Sex



Spider Silk

Why so hairy?

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