guide to spiderwebs

A Guide to Spiderwebs

When people think of spiderwebs, many often think of one or two types. But do you know that there are various spiderwebs made by different spiders? How do spiderwebs differ from each other? In this article, we provide a guide to spiderwebs and everything involved with it.

guide to spiderwebs

What are Spiderwebs Made of?

Spiders produce silk using special parts called spinnerets, enabling them to create various threads with different characteristics such as thin or thick, beaded or smooth, and dry or sticky. Each type of silk serves a specific purpose in constructing different webs. Garden spiders like Araneus diadematus demonstrate the versatility of spider silk by utilizing it from three distinct glands to craft their classic orb webs.

Additionally, some spider families produce cribellate silk, a woolly and entangling material originating from specialized glands. The spider then combs out this unique silk using bristles on its hind legs, showcasing the diverse variety and functions of spider silk in the intricate world of web construction.

Why and How do Spiders Make Spiderwebs?

Spiders initiate web construction by releasing a silk thread and anchoring it to objects like room corners, doorframes, or branches. They skillfully weave back and forth, reinforcing the web with additional threads to create intricate patterns. Structural support is provided by radial lines extending from the center, while orb lines encircle the web.

The primary purpose of spinning webs for spiders is to capture prey; insects flying into the sticky threads become ensnared for the spider’s meal. Spiders adeptly avoid getting stuck in their own silk and can detect disturbances across the web when prey is caught. To rebuild, spiders consume the remaining silk and repurpose it for a new web. Beyond capturing prey, spiders utilize webs for traveling, protecting their home entrances, and securing their eggs.

Guide to Spiderwebs: Types of Spiderwebs

spiderweb guide

There are many common spiderwebs. Some may be familiar while others may not. A few of the most common spiderweb types are as follows:

Orb Webs

Orb-weaver spiders, belonging to the Araneidae family, actively construct orb webs that resemble wheels. These webs, believed to have evolved over 100 million years ago, facilitate spiders’ vertical movement. The web features a robust silk frame, comprising outer lines, anchor lines, and spokes. Spirals of sticky thread are formed to capture prey.

Some orb webs exhibit additional elements like zig-zags and bands, known as stabilimenta, whose purposes remain unclear. Crafting these webs demands cognitive skills as spiders assess space and silk availability. Orb-weavers frequently redesign their webs daily, demonstrating memory for previously used spaces. In favorable weather, a single spider can capture up to 250 insects in a day, underscoring the effectiveness of orb webs in hunting.

Funnel Webs

Spiders, particularly those from the Agelenidae family like grass spiders, actively construct versatile funnels, playing crucial roles such as providing a hiding place from prey or predators, storing eggs, and sometimes for mating. These funnels typically feature an exterior sheet designed to trap prey.

Employing quick hunting strategies, these spiders rush out to bite their prey and then skillfully drag it back into their retreats. Funnel-weaving spiders showcase good eyesight and respond to changes in light as a defense mechanism against predators. It is essential to distinguish them from funnel-web spiders found in Australia, as the latter can pose a danger, unlike the generally harmless funnel-weaver spiders.

Tangled Webs

Tangled webs, commonly referred to as cobwebs, appear messy and shapeless, intentionally designed to ensnare unsuspecting insects. Tangle web spiders, belonging mainly to the Theridiidae family, including the common house spider and the infamous black widow, construct these three-dimensional webs anchored to corners or support beams. The web’s structure consists of a littery design secured by upper trellises and high-tension catching threads with sticky droplets.

When insects disturb these threads, they become trapped and drawn into the central tangle as the thread contracts, ultimately meeting the spider’s bite. Remarkably, some tangle-web spiders form large groups, spanning hundreds of yards, to capture everything from flies to birds. This social behavior intrigues evolutionary biologists studying altruism in group dynamics.

Sheet Webs

Sheet webs are like concave hammocks stretched across bushes, grass, or tree branches, sometimes covering entire shrubs with dozens of them. These lethal webs have a dense mass of threads, including crisscrossing trip threads above the sheet.

Insects colliding with these threads are diverted into the waiting spider’s net below. Spiders regularly repair and enlarge these permanent sheet webs as they grow. The builders may hang upside down below the webs or create additional funnels for activities like eating and laying eggs.

Wooly Webs

Woolly webs are known for their unique texture, using adhesive silk with electrostatically-charged nanofibers to capture prey. Spiders in the Desidae family create these webs by extruding gooey silk through tiny spigots and combing it into woolly strands using bristles on a rear leg.

The presence of the cribellum organ distinguishes these spiders in taxonomy. Though not as perfectly shaped as orb webs, woolly webs, usually horizontal, effectively catch insects that wander into the gauzy structure. Cribellate orb weavers, famous for building woolly webs, lack venom glands but use regurgitated digestive enzymes to consume the prey later.

Guide to Spiderwebs: Additional Types of Spiderwebs

Lacy Spiderwebs: Amaurobius, a cribellate spider, weaves intricate webs on walls and among garden conifers. These are commonly known as lacy spiderwebs. The bluish-grey silk forms untidy discs with a central retreat. Disturbance prompts spiders to swiftly dart out.

Radial Spiderwebs: The Segestriidae family in the UK builds radial webs with trip-wires, emanating from a silk-lined retreat in holes or crevices. These basic webs serve to alert spiders to potential prey. Noteworthy is the Segestria florentina, known for its large size and vibrant green, iridescent jaws.

Purse Spiderwebs: Atypus affinis, the sole British representative of the ‘tarantula’ side, creates purse webs primarily in the south. These spiders form sealed silk tubes extending underground and above the surface. Prey crossing the above-ground section are seized and pulled inside through a slit in the tube’s wall.

Guide to Spiderwebs: Keeping them Away

To keep spiders out of your home, tidying up and vacuuming regularly can help, but the quickest solution is to contact pest control in Oakville. Spiders can hide in cracks, making it hard to get rid of them completely.

Professionals can inspect your home, gauge the extent of the problem, and remove spider webs carefully. Once the webs are gone, the spiders lose their food source, so they won’t stick around. Contact Truly Nolen today to learn about their spider removal services for a safe and effective way to leave your home spider-free and looking fresh.


To conclude this guide to spiderwebs, let’s run some important points. Spiderwebs come in several forms due to the variety of spider breeds. Generally, spiderwebs are constructions made of silk formed from parts of the spiders called spinnerets. Each spiderweb design has a reason behind the design but all can trap prey. In addition to common spiderwebs, there are lesser known types of webs made from specific spiders. Overall, our guide to spiderwebs is meant to provide a better understanding on why spiders make specific types of webs.

Guide to Spiderwebs: FAQs

Q: How strong is a spider web?

A: Spider silk, at a certain weight, is about five times stronger than steel of the same weight. It has a tensile strength of approximately 1.3 GPa, while steel’s is 1.65 GPa.

Q: Do male spiders spin webs?

A: Adult male spiders build webs only for courtship and sperm induction. Some species like the Bowl and Doily Spider and Uloborid Spider do construct webs.

Q: Do all spiders make webs?

A: No, only half of all spider species make webs. Spiders like the crab spider, trap door spider, wolf spider, and jumping spider do not build webs for hunting prey.

Q: Do spiders eat their webs?

A: Yes, spiders may regularly consume their webs to regain lost energy. This process recycles the protein in spider silk.

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