Not So Supernatural: Why Do Spiderwebs Disappear in the Morning?

A while back, I almost walked straight into this trap a spider spun right at my backdoor. It was about three feet in diameter, one of the most impressive webs I’d ever seen up close. Of course, I couldn’t possibly destroy something so intricately beautiful, so I left it. The next morning, it was gone without a trace.

Why make such a carefully crafted piece of work so ephemeral?

Scientists think that spiders close up shop in the morning to avoid being visible prey for birds and other predators in broad daylight.

So, what happens to all that fine silk?

Spiders produce the silk threads that their webs are made of from liquid proteins in their internal glands. As they pull it out with their legs, the acidity in their spinneret glands turns it into a solid fiber that’s super elastic and stronger than steel by weight. All the energy that goes into spinning their glorious webs depletes the spiders’ protein stores, and so some species eat the silk back up in order to replenish them. Way to recycle!

(Sources: Live Science, Smithsonian)




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