More Denizens of the Invisible Empire     

More insects we rarely see - and (perhaps) wish we never do.

Spider Web Silk Spinnerets

These fingerlike spinnerets on spiders' posterior abdomens (rear-ends) are used to extrude web silk. This silk is used to weave webs, snares, shelters, and/or egg sacs. Each species of spider has a distinctive web form. Spider silk is a fibrous protein that is secreted as a fluid and which, when stretched, forms a polymer that is stronger than steel! A spider can spin more than one kind of silk to customize its web. For example, the spider makes some parts of its web not sticky so that it can run across it and not get caught! Some spiders do not weave webs at all, but actively hunt for food.

A tidy, clean web indicates a spider is present. A dusty web (cobweb) usually means it is old and unused. Spiders are useful in keeping down pest insect populations. Have you made friends with a spider, lately?

This picture was taken by a fourth grade class visiting my lab. It is magnified about 1,500 times

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