Maybe you’ve seen spider webs strung high in the branches between two trees. How is the spider able to reach between this distance, which is often more than several feet?
The answer begins with the spider’s ability to transform liquid silk inside its special glands into solid threads. The spider does this by physically pulling the spider silk through its spinnnerets – silk-secreting organs on its abdomen. Once the thread is started, the spider lifts its spinnerets into the breeze. It’s the breeze that is the secret to the spider’s ability to spin a web from tree to another.
Spider silk is very lightweight. Any slight breeze – even convection currents from a patch of ground warming in the sun – can carry the thread from tree to tree.
Although the thread isn’t sticky or gluey, it can still stick to the tree. Most likely it just gets tangled on small protuberances. Or it adheres due to static electrical forces, like balloons sticking to a TV screen.
At this point, the spider can use the thread to “tightrope walk” from one tree to another. Usually, the spider is hanging underneath the thread on its journey from tree to tree.
Many spiders build new webs each night or day, depending on when they hunt.
And spiders recycle – some eat their old webs and use the digested silk to produce new ones.
Bottom line: The breeze is the key to a spider’s ability to spin a web between two trees.
Spiders make a variety of webs with different forms and in different locations. Each suits the lifestyle of the particular species of spider. In a home, humans usually try to remove the three-dimensional type called a "cobweb." When we walk along a trail, the "wheel" or "orb" web often is encountered (usually, too late to be avoided). The construction of such a web requires a series of logical steps, although the spider does this by instinct and does not use the human concept of logic.
The first step is to produce and anchor the first thread. From glands in its abdomen, the spider makes a long sticky thread and lets a breeze carry it horizontally until it sticks to something. That initial thread is reinforced because it will be the main support for the web. (more on the link)
Different types of Australian spider webs...
Want to preserve a spider web?... pretty cool project for kids of all ages.