Researchers reveal silky secrets of plucky spiders

Oxford Mail: Beth Mortimer  with the Golden Orb spider Buy this photo Beth Mortimer with the Golden Orb spider

SPIDERS pluck the silk strings of their webs like guitars, Oxford scientists have found.

Researchers at the University of Oxford were involved in the project which found, when plucked, spider silk sends out sounds which carry information about prey, mates and even the strength of the web.

Beth Mortimer, of the Oxford Silk Group at Oxford University, said: “Most spiders have poor eyesight and rely almost exclusively on the vibration of the silk in their web for sensory information. The sound of silk can tell them what type of meal is entangled in their net and about the intentions and quality of a prospective mate. By plucking the silk like a guitar string and listening to the “echoes” the spider can also assess the condition of its web.”

The discovery was made when the researchers fired bullets and lasers at webs to study how the silk vibrates.

 

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