Spider silk, spider web

Spider silk, spider web

While the density of spider silk is less than that of nylon filaments, its tensile strength is greater than that of steel.



Araneae, spider web, spider, spider silk, orb-weaver spider, weaving a spider web, garden spider, arachnids, silk gland, spinneret, fixed action pattern, chelicera, prosoma, opisthosoma, arthropod, animal, arthropods, biology

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Darwin's bark spider


  • max. 20 mm
  • spinnerets
  • simple eyes - Arachnids have 8 of these.
  • chelicera - The mouthparts of arachnids, used to seize and kill the prey. They are connected to the venom glands. Spiders inject digestive enzymes into the prey and then suck out the liquefied tissues. This is called external digestion.
  • legs - Arachnids have four pairs of jointed walking legs.
  • prosoma - It is formed by the fusion of the head and the thorax.
  • opisthosoma
  • pedipalps - They have evolved from legs. They are mechanical and chemical sensory organs.

Silk glands

  • silk glands - They secrete a liquid protein known as spider silk.

Weaving a spider web

Structure of spider silk

  • skin
  • core
  • silk fibril
  • spider silk - While the density of spider silk is less than that of nylon filaments, its tensile strength is greater than that of steel; it is extremely elastic. A pencil thick spider's silk thread would be capable of stopping an airliner.

Flexibility of spider silk

  • ß-sheet - It cannot be stretched; it serves to increase the tensile strength of the silk.



The strongest known spider silk is spun by Darwin's bark spider.

Its orb webs can spread out almost three square metres with anchor lines spanning up to 25 metres.
Spiders use the silk for various purposes. They produce silk to make webs for hunting, wrap their prey and protect their offspring.

The opisthosoma of the spider contains silk glands that produce silk with different properties for different purposes.

The outer layer of spider silk, the skin, encloses the core. The core contains silk fibrils, certain sections of which form ß-sheet structures.

The key to the high tensile strength of spider silk is that the ß-sheets are very resistant but not elastic. The fibrils between the sheets are ductile, thus giving the silk its flexibility. Spider silk can be stretched up to three times its original length but regain its original length afterwards. Its tensile strength is five times greater than that of steel, while its density is less than that of nylon filaments. Due to these special properties, various studies have been carried out to create artificial spider silk.

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