Wonder Contributors

A big Wonder Wave goes out to Cole and Erin of Kitchener for inspiring today’s Wonder!

Have you ever accidentally run into a spider web? You might have been surprised by how sticky it was. It can definitely be difficult to get all of the web off of your skin and out of your hair!

Why are spider webs so sticky? Spiders who weave webs use them to catch flies and other insects and small animals that they eat for food. For example, when a fly unknowingly flies into a spider web, it quickly becomes trapped. A spider’s silk is sticky, but also very strong. The spider can then subdue it and have a quick meal!

If you’ve ever watched a spider move across its web, though, you may have noticed that it doesn’t get stuck like its prey. Instead, spiders move quickly and efficiently around their webs as if they weren’t sticky at all. How do they do that?

Unlike unsuspecting prey, spiders don’t come into contact with their webs all at once. Instead, they move nimbly along the strands of their webs with only the hairs on the tips of their legs making contact with the sticky threads. This minimizes the chances that they’ll get caught in their own trap!

To avoid sticky situations, spiders also groom themselves very carefully. Spiders routinely clean their legs of all pieces of silk and other debris that might cause them to get stuck on their webs.

Not all webs are sticky throughout, either. Many spiders only make threads with adhesive “glue” in certain parts of their webs. Other areas, especially where the spider might rest, are built without “glue” to make it easier for the spider to move around the web.

Some people mistakenly believe that spiders have oily legs that prevent them from sticking to their webs. This is not true, because spiders don’t have oil glands. Recently, though, some scientists have discovered that the hair on a spider’s legs may be covered with a special chemical that prevents the “glue” on the web from sticking.

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    • WOHOO, we’re glad you’ve been on the search for spiders, Destiny! What a cool adventure in your very own backyard! Do you spy any spider webs in your backyard, too? Sometimes they are easiest to see in the morning and late in the evening. :)

    • Hey there, Unicorn, check out our Wonder today! There’s lots of information about how different spiders get around without getting caught! Some webs aren’t sticky, but the hairs on spiders’ legs help them move around without a problem, too! Perhaps you will find a spider and spiderweb in your very own backyard– you can observe them in their natural habitat! :)

    • You’ve got it, Malik! We hope you had a great time getting caught up in today’s Wonder! We Wonder if you have spotted any spider webs in your neighborhood? What do they look like? Has there been a spider on any of them? :)

  1. Hello Wonderopolis,

    My summer school class in Affton, MO will be using Wonderopolis as part of our 6th grade Communication Arts class.
    We have a prediction about tomorrow’s Wonder, is it underwater volcanoes?

    Thanks,
    Mrs. Nixon and Class

    • Good afternoon, Mrs. Nixon’s Class! We are so very excited to know that all our Wonder Friends will be joining us for Camp What-A-Wonder this year! WAHOO! :)

      We love your awesome guess for the next Wonder of the Day®! We’ll dive into the deep sea to find some awesome new Wonders! :-)

    • Hey there, Nyla, thanks so much for sharing your awesome comment today! Spiders, and their webs, sure are cool! Can you imagine if you had to build and break down your very own web everyday? It’s cool to learn all about the hard work that goes into spider webs! Have you seen an spider webs in your neighborhood recently, Nyla? :)

  2. Hi! Wow, that is really interesting! The other day, me and my brothers and sisters were huning for a toad, and instead, we found a spider on a web, and it was shaped like a triangle, it was orange, and it had black and yellow striped legs. And it had an awesome web! It was the kind of web that swirls and swirls until it gets to the right size, and it is kind of shaped like a hexagon or an octagon. We thought that the spider was dead, because it was sitting really still and its legs were crossed, so we sprayed water on the web from a spray bottle to make it show up, and the spider woke up! It started crawling around the web and so we left it alone. Thank you for today’s wonder! :) ;)

    • Berkleigh, we always love hearing about your family’s adventures! You don’t have to go far to Wonder! :) We can picture the awesome spider you spotted, and we are glad you saw how it moves around its own web! Keep up the Wonder and adventure, Berkleigh! We love it! :)

    • Thanks so much, Kyle! We’re glad you liked today’s Wonder! :)

      What is your favorite fact from today’s spinning Wonder? Have you spotted any spider webs in your neighborhood lately? :)

    • Hey there, Anthony! We’re glad you asked– today’s Wonder is fun to get caught up in! :)

      Spiders are very good at navigating their webs, so they take great care of the hairs on their bodies. The hairs on their bodies have a special chemical on them, which prevents them from getting stuck in their own webs. We hope you’ll read the entire article on Wonderopolis today- we are excited to learn something new with you! :)

    • Spider bites are no fun at all, Tyler! YIKES! We like observing spiders in their natural habitats, especially because they are so creative! Can you imagine building and rebuilding your very own home every day? Can you think of any other animals or insects who have to do that? :)

  3. I hate spiders. I have a huge pathological fear of them, and when I see them, I will start to scream. But I did like the wonder and I learned a lot. If ever I run into a spiderweb (which I hope won’t happen anyway) I would want to run into the part without the spider and without the sticky stuff. I wonder how long after spiders hatch are they able to spin a web.

    • Maya, we’re so proud of you for being a brave Wonder Friend today! Keep your eyes open for spider webs, that way you can avoid running into them and observe a spider in its natural habitat! We think that is way more fun than getting caught up in a spider web! :) We hope you’ll do some WONDERing of your own to find the answer to your awesome spider Wonder, Maya! Great job! :)

  4. I never knew spiders groomed themselves. If anything, I thought insects were the reasons why animals groomed themselves.

    • Hey there Emily, welcome back to Wonderopolis! We’re so happy you shared your comment with us today! Spiders are super interesting insects aren’t they? We think your idea about animals grooming themselves is very true– especially when they have been playing outside. However, spiders keep themselves nice and groomed to move about their webs with ease. We Wonder if you have any spider webs near your home? :)

  5. Hello Wonderopolis!!! Guess who’s back for more amazing comments? The answer is, TJ! Today’s wonder was cool.

    BTW, I am currently in Fort Myers, Florida. I left on 6/2/13 and will come back to Dublin, Ohio tomorrow 6/7/13.

    The weather in Fort Myers was terrible! We had heavy rain, thunderstorms, a few sun and even a tornado! Crazy, isn’t it? All the rain, thunderstorms, and tornadoes were from Tropical Storm Andrea.

    TJ

  6. Hi! I just stumbled upon this great website! I run a similar site myself, and I really like how you make science so fun and simple to understand. I will definitely come back here!

    • Hey there, SharkWave93! Thanks so much for your kind comment, we are excited to share awesome, WONDERful things in our world! Your site looks great, too! Best of luck! :)

  7. Hello

    You know wonderopolis I always wonder why spiders never get caught in their web. And Ms.G is going to another school.

    Good bye,

    One of Ms.G’s kids

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend! Thanks for stopping by to Wonder with us today! We’re really happy to hear that you have been WONDERing about spiders and how they get around in those sticky webs! They sure are talented creatures, aren’t they? We bet Ms. G has a special place in her heart for you and your awesome classmates! We hope you have a great summer, Wonder Friend… a domain! :-)

  8. Hi, spiders are awesome, but in your article it said “recently, scientists have realised spiders have a special chemical to stop the spiders legs from sticking” May I ask what is this chemical?
    Just wondering,
    Mark

    • Hey there, Mark! Spiders are awesome, we totally agree! It depends on the spider, but each spider has glands that produces a thread for a special purpose. One of those glands allows the spider to walk, or crawl, around his or her web without getting stuck! We hope you’ll continue to Wonder about spiders and how they get around! They sure are cool creatures, Mark! Perhaps you can Wonder with the help of your local or school librarian! :)

        • HOORAY, Mark, that’s great! Thanks for visiting us to Wonder about spiders and their webs! Isn’t it interesting? We are happy to hear that you are WONDERing with us; have a great time writing about this at school! Come back and visit us soon, Mark! :)

  9. We really like the did you get it section, but we don’t know how to get
    to the other questions after getting the first one right.
    Please help.

    Thank you

    • Hey there, Grade 3/4! We’re so sorry to hear that you’re experiencing issues with our quiz! That’s no fun! We will be in touch via email with some tips to help troubleshoot! Thanks for letting us know! :)

  10. We learned that spiders don’t get stuck. We learned that spiders walk on the hairs on their legs. It was cool to see the spider making a web.

    • Good morning, Mrs. LaLonde’s Class! Welcome back to Wonderopolis, we are so very excited that you are here! Spiders sure are WONDERful creatures, aren’t they? We liked learning about the hairs on their legs, and how they build their own homes each and everyday. We Wonder what it would be like to live in a spider web… :)

  11. We wonder what the real reason is that spiders don’t get caught in their own webs. Is it a combination of all the explanations? We didn’t realize that there are parts of a spider’s web that are not sticky. We wonder just how strong are spiders’ webs? Are all spiders’ webs the same strength?

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Why don’t spiders get caught in their webs?
  • What purposes do spider webs serve?
  • Can you spin your own web?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

If you can’t get enough of spiders, jump on the world wide WEB and check out one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

Try one or two and post pictures of your finished projects on Facebook. We can’t wait to see what you create!

  • Isn’t it incredible that spider webs can catch small animals? Just how strong are spider webs? Very strong! Head over to the National Science Foundation website to read A Spider Web’s Strength Lies in More Than Its Silk to learn about the various factors that contribute to webs that look delicate but are quite strong!
  • Up for a challenge? If you’ve ever seen spider webs up close, you’ve probably noticed that many of them have very interesting patterns. To learn more, check out Interactive Spider Geometry online. You’ll discover mygalomorph patterns and much more!

Still Wondering

In Science NetLinks’ Vegetarian Spiders Science Update podcast, you will hear about a population of spiders in Mexico that subsists almost entirely on plants.

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