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Regina Bailey

Non-Stick Spiders

By March 1, 2012

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Spider's Web
Image: Lisa McDonald / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of Costa Rica believe they may have discovered why spiders don't get stuck to their own webs. It appears that the hairs on the spiders' legs along with the production of a non-stick substance keep the spiders from sticking to their webs. The discovery was made while studying two tropical species of orb-weaver spiders, Nephila clavipes (golden silk orb-weaver) and Gasteracantha cancriformis (spiny-backed orb-weaver).

It was also discovered that during web construction, spiders reduce adhesive forces by strategically moving their legs along the web. With the use of video cameras, hundreds of thousands of leg movements were captured and analyzed. When the researchers washed the non-stick substance from the spiders' legs, the spiders stuck to the web more firmly.

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