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Photo by Leanne Guenther
Many spiders will build webs to catch prey but there are lots of spiders who prefer to hunt, and they use their webs for other things. All spiders are born to spin. They don’t need their parents to teach them how.
Spiders that build the circular webs that we, in Canada, usually find in our yards are called Orb-Web spiders. These webs look like bike wheels and are very sticky. These are the webs that trap insects for food. Many of these spiders will build new webs every night. Others will just keep repairing their damaged webs. The spider will sit near the center of the web and wait for insects to land on the web. Some species of Orb-web spiders will weave fancy looking webs. Scientists think that the patterns help birds to see it and avoid flying into it.
Another type of web is the sheet-web. This web is spun horizontally and has special non-sticky lines above it. These lines knock insects down onto the sheet-web where they get stuck.
Some other spiders spin funnel-webs. These webs are shaped like…you guessed it…funnels. They are wide at the top and get narrower as they go down. The spider hides at the bottom of this web waiting for its prey.
All of these webs are designed to catch food. Since spiders do not have great eyesight, they usually use the vibrations of the web strands to locate their prey. When they do, they rush on over and wrap their victim in silk, turning it around and around until it is covered. Then the spider pokes its fangs into the insect and shoots poison into it, which turns its guts into liquid, the spider then sucks out the liquid. Yuck!