Quirks & Quarks

Spider Spins Electrically Charged Silk

This spider's silk holds a charge and helps capture prey through "static cling."
Feather legged Lace Weaver lays in wait. (Hartmut Kronenberger & Katrin Kronenberger (Oxford University))
Most spiders spin webs comprised of silk threads that are covered in a sticky wet glue. But the "feather-legged lace weaver" (also known as the "garden centre spider") is a little different.

A new study by Dr. Katrin Kronenberger, from the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, has found that this spider has retained an ancient method of producing silk that most spiders have lost. They produce a fluffy wool-like substance that becomes electro-statically charged, as it is combed across an organ called the cribellum by the spider's hind legs.

The static charge results in silk fibres that are thinner, stronger and stickier than those of other modern spiders.

Related Links

Paper in Royal Society Biology Letters
- University of Oxford release
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