Keeps Them Hanging On

Spider silk

White arrows point to trails of spider silk
Black arrow points the direction of the slide
Hairs on the feet can be seen on the left side
Image: Gorb & Colleagues

Most tarantulas cling to surfaces with dry adhesion of thousands of hairs on its feet. The surface to surface attraction holds the tarantula in place. Additionally, tarantulas have claws on the end of the legs that can hook into rough surfaces and provide additional traction.

The Costa Rican zebra tarantula, Aphonopelma seemanni has an additional mechanism. It has hairs that can secrete silk from their tips. If the spider is allowed to walk on a glass surface that is then tilted to a steep incline, the spider at first slips of the glass. It then starts emitting silk from its hairs which halt the slide and keeps the spider hanging on.

Stanislav N Gorb, Senta Niederegger, Cheryl Y Hayashi, Adam P Summers, Walter Vötsch and Paul Walther. Biomaterials: Silk-like secretion from tarantula feet. Nature 443, 407.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, Biomaterials, by jjneal. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Keeps Them Hanging On

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