Many of us get a little freaked out when it comes to spiders–But it’s hard not to be amazed by their skills as web-makers. Without the use of tools or materials they are able to manufacture the raw materials on site and construct intricate structures used for among other purposes, catching prey.
Spiders produce silk from glands at the tip of their abdomens called spinnerets. Some spiders are equipped with several spinneret glands, each used to produce a different type of silk for a specific purpose.
Although we might think of spider webs as being fragile, they actually have a higher tensile strength then the same weight of steel cable. Additionally they have a far greater elasticity than steel, making them less likely to break under stress.
When we think of spider webs, the spiral web of the orb spider is generally what comes to mind. These structures truly are architectural marvels. But there are also other types of webs produced by spiders. Funnel webs, tubular webs and sheet webs are common web styles.
On a day shrouded with heavy fog, I went out into the woods. The moisture in the air revealed something I had taken little notice of before. Nestled on many of the trees trunks were spider webs that looked like little hammocks.
Although I didn’t find spiders in any of the webs, I later did a little digging about the webs themselves. Without knowing how to proceed, I did a Google search for the words: spider, web and hammock. To my surprise, hammock web was actually the official term used for this type of web.
Sheet web weavers make up a family of spiders called Linyphiinae including around 4,400 individual species. Within this group, the genus of Pityohyphantes makes up the spiders that build hammock webs. This narrows down the species count to only fourteen. So some time in the future I may be able to find the master builders who erected these stunning structures, and give them a name.