Spiders are commonly viewed as one of the most advanced insects in the wild. They weave webs that are often complex and that are often key in catching and collecting prey. That being said, the Uloborus spider is something that seems like it would come right out of a science fiction movie. They produce silk, which appears to be loose, and somewhat fluffy in comparison to other silk-producing spiders. That being said though, this silk is not to be taken lightly.
It comes out as a liquid, and it comes from one of the smallest silk glands that have ever been observed on a spider. However, size does not matter, in this case, because the silk that comes out, is weaved, and held over a portion of the spiders body that creates an electrical charge through the silk. It doesn’t just kill or stun prey, either. It attracts them – scientists have noted. The silk is labeled as low-viscosity and a pure liquid at its initial state.
As the filaments of the silk are stretched, they become stronger, and eventually create a web that is challenging to defeat in structure, or in technology. Now though, scientists are now going to be working to mimic that exact behavior on a larger – more human scale. Interestingly though, the comparison has been made to fictional characters – like Spider Man, for weaving a legitimately electric web.
Monique Brouillette, of the journal Science, pointed out that “In order to endow the fibers with an electrostatic charge, the spider pulls them over a comblike plate located on its hind legs.” Ultimately, it’s this movement that has scientists most-interested. It is the very moment at which the spider’s web becomes charged, and once charged, seems to maintain that charge throughout the webs life. The real-life comparison would be to when an individual is doing laundry in a dryer. When the towels come out of the dryer, they have a static charge – and this is the same type of charge that is found in this spider’s web. If this ends up being something that scientists can tap into, and can be implemented into more typical methods of science and technology – it would be a significant breakthrough – as it can offer more in the way of understanding when it comes to electrical charge.