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How Spider Webs Are Made

The word cobweb is said to come from the Middle English word "coppe," which simply meant "spider." Over the years "coppe" was gradually slurred to "cob," and, voila, "cobweb." Okay! Not earth shaking news, but interesting, nonetheless.

So, where do all those cobwebs that you find in your house come from? I know you're not going to want to hear this, but every last one of them come from spiders. Spiders rule the world. They live in almost every habitat on earth. The only places where there are no spiders are the polar regions, the highest mountains and the oceans. It is estimated that there are over 1,000,000 individuals per acre in a grassy field and that there are about ***image4***2,500 different species in North America.

Assuming we all have spiders living in our houses, it might be helpful to understand how they make those unsightly webs that embarrassingly drop down during your most important dinner party. Spiders have several glands located at the abdomen which produce silken thread. Every gland produces a thread for a special purpose. Some glands produce the sticky material for the threads. Some make the threads that make up the frame of the web, while others produce the threads that create the center part of the web. Still other glands produce only those threads responsiblefor encapsulating prey. 

Normally a spider has three pairs of spinners, but there are spiders with just one pair or as many as four pairs. Like the glands, every spinner has it own function. There are small tubes in the spinners which are connected to the glands. The number of tubes varies between 2 and 50,000. So, the gland's ***image3***connected to the spinner and the spinner's connected to the small tubes. The head bone's connected to the neck bone. The neck bone's connected to the shoulder bone. You get the picture. 

Spider silk is a protein that converts from one compound into another to become a molecule named fibroin. Scientists are still not clear what activates this polymerization process. These molecules make up the thin threads that are capable of stopping a bee flying at full speed. The tread is not only strong but also very elastic, capable of being stretched 30 - 40% before it breaks. In comparison, steel can be stretched only 8% and nylon around 20%.

Too much information? Well, here's what you really need to know about cobwebs. Spiders cannot survive without their webs. Just knock the the webs down as you find them and the spider will move to better, unseen hiding places. Cobweb dusters can be purchased at Home Depot or Lowes. (The extension poles are usually extra.) There is also a product called Dr. T's Cobweb Eliminator. Supposedly, the spiders dislike the smell and the spray leaves a coating on the surface on which cobwebs can't stick.

It's also good to know that better pest control professionals will knock down all the webs for you as they find them inside and outside during their service visits. That in turn will discourage spiders from entering your house.

Click here to watch my short video on how to keep spiders in check.

photo credit: <a href="Jon'>">Jon McGovern</a> via <a href="photopin">photopin</a> <a href="cc">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="James'>">James Jordan</a> via <a href="photopin">photopin</a> <a href="cc">cc</a>

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