Fast Fact: Spider Silk

If you’ve ever walked into a spider web, you probably know how sticky it is. The stickiness comes from a glue-like substance the spiders make to coat the threads of silk. All spiders make silk; it’s one of the things that makes a spider a spider. However, not all spiders use their silk to make webs. In fact, the majority of spiders do not spin webs.

(Photo courtesy of Robert Hafey)

So what do they do with their silk? Some spiders use it to make nests or cocoons; others wrap up their prey in silk. Still others use long strands of silk as drop lines or anchor lines to help them move about their environment. Many spiders even make different kinds of silk for different purposes.

Spider silk is stronger than any other natural or man-made fiber on Earth. Its strength comes from the connected chains of proteins that it is made of. Scientists have been working for years to see if they can create a man-made fiber as strong and flexible as spider silk.

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