Tuesday 15 September 2020

If You Wish To Live And Thrive...

... let a spider run alive

This was one of my grandmother's saying, whenever a large arachnid crept across the floor, and I screamed in terror. She knew that house spiders eat flies and are our friends. I have learned to catch them under a glass, slide a piece of card underneath, and then carefully take them outside to run away to a neighbour's place! I usually ask Bob to perform this task for me. The other night I was on my own and a humungous beast scuttled across the floor. I kid you not, it covered the same area as one of Rosie's bath ducks.

I left her under the glass, and next morning released her outside

The Manse garden has been really blerssed with spiders' webs- in the early morning sun, they really catch the light and sparkle like diamond necklaces.

Some are just dense areas of mesh, like tulle

Others have a much more defined pattern structure. 

Humans have been making use of spider silk for millennia.  The ancient Greeks used cobwebs to stop wounds from bleeding and the Aborigines used silk as fishing. Silk was used as the crosshairs in guns until World War II.

The production of modern man-made super-fibres [eg Kevlar] involves processes which contribute to pollution.  The production of spider silk is completely environmentally friendly.  Made at ambient temperature and pressure , and drawn from water, it’s completely biodegradable.  If the production of spider silk ever becomes industrially viable, it could replace Kevlar and be used for things like bullet-proof clothing, ropes, nets, seat belts, parachutes, bandages, surgical thread, artificial tendons, supports for weak blood vessels.  But it is not straightforward.  Firstly spiders cannot be farmed like silkworms -  they are cannibals and will simply eat each other if in close proximity.  The silk produced is very fine so 400 spiders would be needed to produce only one square yard of cloth.  The silk also hardens when exposed to air which makes it difficult to work with.

In medieval times, it was considered a good thing to have cobwebs in your house - it implied that disease spreading flies were being caught and your property was more hygienic. Aren't these creatures amazing, to produce something so beautiful, strong, and useful?


  1. Lots of spiders in residence, here, at my place! They work hard to decorate my house for Halloween, but, I don't always appreciate their efforts! :D

  2. That spider has double knees...shudder!!
    Those webs are at least attractive. The Tabby orb spiders in my garden just seem intent on building the longest tight-rope walkers that they can at really odd angles!


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