Spider webs are delicate silken creations designed for one purpose — catching prey. Since most spiders are unable to see, they rely on their sense of touch to produce webs and catch prey. Spiders construct webs where they sense they will catch food. Often they choose to build their traps on the sunny side of the house because insect activity is abundant where the sun shines.
Web-spinning spiders spend their entire life attached or near their web. In fact, newborn spiders begin spinning webs as soon as they are born. Spiders are highly adaptable and if they find they are not catching enough prey in one location, they will pack up and find a more suitable place.
It is interesting to note that orb spiders have 7 different glands in their abdomen and each gland produces a different type of silk. Sometimes a spider needs to make a cocoon, swathing band or sticky globules to hold its prey in place. Orb spiders come equipped with a type of safety mechanism. Have you ever disturbed a spider only to see it drop like a rock on a thread of silk? When the spider senses the danger has passed, up it returns to its web.
Hunting spiders, such as the wolf spider, do not spin webs but do possess some silk making properties. A wolf spider can secrete silk for a safety line when it senses danger, swathing bands to wrap its prey in, and silk to attach to other webs where prey is caught.
Spiders who build spiral orb styled webs appear highly organized. The 2-dimensional orb web resembles a dartboard. The female Black and Yellow garden spider is large. With a web 20 times its size, this spider should be easy to spot. Found in Nebraska, this spider has an intimidating appearance with its size and bright contrasting yellow and black colors. These spiders spin a traditional orb web with an obvious zig-zag silken pattern somewhere near the center. The purpose of this extra bit of decoration activity is unknown.
The Banded garden spider likes to build its webs near the ground among the weeds and tall grass. The females are large with black and yellow bands around its legs and abdomen.
A spider is crawling around a rose bush and senses that this is a good place to catch something to eat. As the spider releases a silken strand, a gentle breeze drifts through the leaves and blows the strand to where it catches hold of a fence post. Once this happens, the spider gives the strand a tug and secures it to the post and rose bush. Once the spider senses the strand is strong enough, it then creates a Y-shaped netting. After the outer support radials are constructed, more radials are added so that the spider can easily walk across to either eat its catch or wrap it up burrito style for a later snack. When building an orb web the spider uses its own body for measurements. After all the radials are in place, the spider strengthens the center with 5 circular threads. After the web is completed the spider finds a suitable area to wait for prey to strike. When an insect hits the web the spider senses the impact and the subsequent struggle.
But what of the Black Widow’s tangled mess of a web that looks anything but organized and orderly? Also known as cobwebs because of all the dust and debris, tangle webs are a 3-dimensional mess of highways and corridors which mysteries of design belong to the spider who made it.
Widow spiders probably didn’t have Shakespeare in mind when they lamented, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave.” They simply are producing the best possible web to snare and entangle crickets, ants, and other types of prey. Just like any other web-spinning spider.
The least invasive way to eliminate spiders is to remove the webs. This eliminates their food source and they will either need to find somewhere else to live or starve. If you are seeing spiders in your Omaha home or business it is best to consult with a pest control specialist who will come up with an action plan to help keep you spider free.