Even though spiders are not the most popular of all insects, inducing fear and anxiety in humans despite their comparatively tiny size, they are fascinating creatures.
Spiders produce their own silk, while many species can produce more than one type of silk thanks to different spinneret glands. The silk they produce is used for more than just catching prey, too. Its purpose is also to build egg sacs, help disperse their young, provide a means of water and air supply, to name a few.
But is there any difference between cobwebs vs. spider webs? Find out more in this blog.
Cobwebs Vs. Spider Webs: The Facts Worth Knowing
It may be easy to spot the difference between a cobweb and a spider web, but are they really that different?
In old English, the word ”coppe” means ”spider”, hence the evolution of the word cobweb. Cobwebs are in fact, spider webs, except that they are built by a very specific type of spider — the comb-footed spider, which is part of the Theridiidae family.
These spiders have the very unique ability to build webs that are three-dimensional. Very often, cobwebs resemble a tangled web, but it’s not tangled at all — its spider silk architecture is very specific.
The purpose of a cobweb is to catch insects for food, but also to offer protection.
Most people today think of cobwebs as spider webs that have merely gathered dust and dirt. Or perhaps a spider web that’s abandoned by its host.
But if we’re getting technical, a cobweb belongs to the comb-footed spider.
How Does a Spider Web Differ?
Spider webs come in all shapes, sizes, and patterns depending on the species of spider that built them. They are usually one-dimensional, while no two spider webs ever look completely the same.
The purpose of a spider web is to trap prey, provide protection, offer a source of water, air, and more. While there are thousands of spider species across the globe, the most common types of spider webs include:
- Spiral orb webs
- Tubular webs
- Sheet webs
- Funnel webs
- Tangle webs
Spiders of all species use their spinneret glands to build their webs. These are specialized glands found on the upper part of the abdomen. As mentioned, some spiders have multiple spinneret glands — some have up to six different kinds!
Each of these glands produces a different type of spider silk which has its own unique purpose for the structure of the web. So, what are spider webs actually of?
Spiders produce a specific type of protein fibre in their glands. When this fluid is exposed to air, it hardens to form a spider web. Interestingly, spider silk is high in vitamin K, too.
This is why they were once used as wound pads to aid in blood clotting many moons ago. Spiders use a great deal of energy to produce their webs. It’s not uncommon for a spider to eat part of its own web to replenish its energy stores if needed.
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The key difference between cobwebs vs. spider webs is the type of spider that spins the web. But ultimately, they are the same thing — just with a different architecture.
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