Spiders use their web in ways you can’t imagine!

New BBSRC-funded research shows that spider silk transmits vibrations across a wide range of frequencies so that, when plucked like a guitar string, its sound carries information about prey, mates, and even the structural integrity of a web.

The discovery was made by researchers from the Universities of Oxford, Strathclyde, and Sheffield who fired bullets and lasers at spider silk to study how it vibrates.

They found that, uniquely, when compared to other materials, spider silk can be tuned to a wide range of harmonics. The findings could inspire a wide range of new technologies, such as tiny, light-weight sensors.

Video of a fly hitting a spider web and subsequent capture and wrapping by the common garden spider Araneus diadematus from the University of Oxford.

For more information visit: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-06-03-spiders-know-meaning-web-music

For more spider related science visit: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/news/food-security/2014/140604-pr-could-spiders-be-key-to-saving-bees.aspx

Gertrude, my pet orb weaver spider (Araneus diadematus)

She moved on to our window frame about two weeks ago, and I’ve been feeding her insects I catch in the house. I sleep with the window open no matter the weather and we don’t have a screen, so I am always glad to have spiders in the room to keep the mosquitoes down.

So far, I’ve seen her eat a variety of insects, but the most surprising were the cellar spider and the crane fly. I’ll try and snag a picture next time I throw something in her web. She wraps up her prey so quickly: it’s fascinating to watch.

In short, I really like Gertrude, and I’m happy she chose my window.

My dad is a total arachnophobe, but I just can’t understand it looking at her; I definitely did not inherit his phobia.