How Spider Walks Without Sticking to Its Own Spider Web

Think of it as the reverse teflon question: if spider webs are so sticky, how come spiders don't stick to them?

Scientists have now solved that age-old conundrum:

Dr Eberhard and the team combined a video camera and a microscope to record the spiders in minute detail.

They identified three factors that combined to stop the spiders from sticking: leg hairs that decreased the surface area available to stick; a chemical coating on the hairs that reduced the adhesion and the delicate way the spiders move their legs.

"Spiders reduce their adhesion to the sticky lines in their webs by moving their legs carefully so as to allow the sticky lines to slide off easily," Dr Eberhard told BBC Nature.

Under the microscope, the researchers saw that when a spider made contact with a sticky line the adhesive droplets were transferred to its leg hairs.

Then, as the spider withdrew its leg from the web, the droplets slid down these non-stick hairs and dripped off the fine point at the end.


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also worth noting that a given spider has glands to product produce many different types of silk for different purposes. The radial threads of a web are not sticky, and those are what the spider walks on to avoid damaging it's own web.
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