Unlike Spider-Man, a spider is not able to ‘shoot’ its threads through the air. So how does the arachnid manage to spin the first threads of its web?
“Spiders let a thin thread go, which is then picked up by the wind and sticks wherever it lands,” explains spider researcher Bernhard Huber. Using this method, arachnids like the Darwin’s bark spider can build a web up to seven metres wide to make a bridging line across a river.
However, the spider can’t choose which way these anchoring threads blow. “If no suitable anchoring point is found, the spider gives up and tries somewhere else,” says Huber. But if the thread sticks, it hangs from it and replaces the thin thread with a thick, silky version. This is the base frame for the spider’s web.