If you are not a fan of spiders, you are not alone. Before you push away another spider web, remember this: relative to weight, the strength of a spider web rivals steel and Kevlar, the material used to make bullet-proof vests. Its incredible, pliable strength has inspired scientists to develop a surprising number of products—but it is just one of the amazing things that may give even arachnophobes a new appreciation!
Here are 3 Fun Facts:
1. SPIDER SILK TRANSFORMS FROM LIQUID PROTEIN TO SOLID THREAD WHEN IT LEAVES THE BODY.
Spiders are like tiny silk production factories. Inside their bodies, thread is stored as a highly concentrated liquid. A common garden spider can produce as many as seven types of silk, each made up of a different sequence of proteins. Each type of thread serves a distinct purpose: one, for example, makes the web stretchy to better absorb the impact of insects smacking into it; another makes the thread less brittle. Still other proteins protect the threads from bacteria and fungi and keep it moist.
2. SPIDERS USE THEIR SILK FOR MUCH MORE THAN CATCHING DINNER.
Webs are used for trapping prey, but spiders produce silk for other reasons, too. Hunting spiders often make silk to use as drag lines extending more than 80 feet—across rivers and lakes. By building their super-strong web across the water like a bridge, they can catch large insects like dragonflies that quickly swoop and rise along the water’s surface.
3.WE LOOK TO SPIDER WEBS FOR ALL KINDS OF USEFUL PRODUCT IDEAS.
Because spider silk is so flexible, light, strong, and water resistant, it presents numerous product possibilities. Researchers are busy developing bioinspired, synthetic versions of spider silk like “liquid wire,” as well as adhesives based on their sticky glue-like protein droplets. Taking inspiration from spider silk, researchers have recently made big strides in designing medical devices, parts, and supplies that need to be strong and stretchy or sticky. These include artificial tendons, ligaments, and implants, as well as sutures, adhesives, and bandages.
Learn more about spiders by participating in our HTHT @ Home Science Experiment: