Spiders Attract Prey With Slingshot made Of Their Web

Scientists from the University of Akron analyzed a type of spider that can gradually expand its web rigid and then drop it, making the web to launch forward and entrap off guard prey in its cords. The researchers explain this procedure called ‘power amplification’ in their research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study co-author Daniel Maksuta, a physicist at the University of Akron said that the web is flexible, and enables the spider to magnify its own power by utilizing what is known as ‘elastic recoil,’ which results in greater forces and thus much higher acceleration. Researchers say that this high-velocity maneuver shows that spiders can utilize a tool, their own tangle, a move that only humans were known to practice. Sheila Patek, a biologist, and expert in the mechanics of animal movement at Duke University, said that there might not be another animal example to take something they’ve constructed externally and then utilize it for their own benefit, a behavior that is specific to humans.

A triangle-weaver spider creates a web-shaped in the form of a triangle, with just one thread connecting the primary structure of the triangle and a wall. Then, while moving that thread, it walks in reverse, and it fastens the threads network, so it’s placing the elastic energy within the entire triangle form of the system, Sarah Han, a biologist from the University of Akron and the research’s primary author explains.
The spider spirals that one thread between its legs tighter, and then tighter, just like drawing back a rubber band. Han explains that she has observed some spiders holding that spiraled thread for hours, waiting for a victim to fall into its web.

When the spider feels the prey crashing on the web, it let go of its legs from the last line, and this procedure makes the spider and the thread network to propel with that discharge of energy, causing wobbles in the web that begins to entrap the prey. The spider can repeat this move numerous times, tightening and then letting go of the internet, so the victim gets more entrapped.

Spiders Attract Prey With Slingshot made Of Their Web

The web and spider jointly propel with fantastic velocity, an equal to traveling any 400 of the spider’s build lengths per second. For this study, Han said that researchers gathered triangle-weaver spiders from around the university in Ohio and took them in the laboratory. The spiders then created their webs, and the scientists sealed the webs in terrariums and put flies into them.

At some point, the fly would collapse into the web. The scientists were recording the processes with high-speed cameras, and then utilize ‘motion tracking and software to get the position data, and from that, we can get things like velocity and acceleration,’ Han said.

She also said that this is not the first occasion someone observed the spider’s move, but no one had ‘quantified it’ until now. There are various types of spiders, and they all utilize their thread networks in different ways. For instance, orb-weaver spiders create circular, spiral webs that are the most common to people. That type of spider’s web is static, and the spider is not propelling its network at the prey.

Also, the researchers say that usually when biologists think about ‘power amplification’ they’re explaining how animals place and let go of the energy inside their bodies. But the researchers say that the triangle-weaver spider mainly didn’t have to create methods to store and allow go of the energy inside its own body like other animals are doing, because it adjusted its own instrument, a web, as a weapon.

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Emmy Skylar

About the Author: Emmy Skylar

Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News.  She covers politics and the economy.

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