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Rimy Revelations, the Spider Web Revealed

Updated on June 26, 2014

Yesterday I was walking my dog Kai past a neighbor’s hedgerow. It was the same hedgerow I’d walked past almost every day for years. But today it looked completely different. It stopped me in my tracks.

We’d had our first truly hard frost that morning and along this hedge you could see outlined in white what normally was invisible: dozens of spider webs coated in frost. It looked like miniature fishing nets had been strewn randomly up against the branches and they had stuck like Velcro.

Or maybe someone had decorated the hedges with delicate origami snowflakes.

Against Kai’s objections, we raced back home to get my camera and returned so I could snap away, enchanted.

Spiders have evolved a talent for engineering with which similar, yet unrelated bugs, i.e. insects, cannot compete. They spew silk from their abdomens. They don’t create just one type of silk, but up to three different kinds. They make a sticky silk that traps and holds their prey in place. They also produce a non-sticky type of thread that they use to travel across their webs to approach their prey. This allows them to to either eat or bundle up their prey for safe-keeping and consumption at a later time. And for birthing and raising baby spiders, they make a different more secure kind of silk that is used to construct a fortress-like cocoon.

Spider webs are designed to be experienced and not seen, or there would be no purpose in building them. But under the right conditions they make themselves known. Most of us have probably walked through a web and become covered and entwined in its sticky threads. Take heart, for though It’s an unsettling experience -- especially because most of us don’t enjoy having a creepy-looking spider crawling on our person -- it may help to know that spiders are not usually in their webs, but carefully concealed outside of them in a place where they can wait and watch for a potential meal to become inextricably glued to their silky stickum. Resting one leg on the web allows them to feel the vibration when their potential lunch flies or gets blown into the web and tries desperately to free itself. It also makes them less conspicuous to their predators. Of course the European Cross Spider spends a great deal of time in the center of its web and there are plenty of those in the Willamette Valley.

These frosty engineering feats reminded me that I had taken photos during the summer of the invisible death traps when the sun or the dew had given away their presence.

Webs are beautiful works of art designed never to be seen. It’s kind of a privilege when nature’s conditions allow us a glimpse.


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    • KaisMom profile image

      KaisMom 6 years ago from Keizer, Oregon

      Thank you timorous! You can't control nature. I'm just glad I had my eyes open or I might have missed it. It really felt like magic!

    • timorous profile image

      timorous 6 years ago from Me to You

      Isn't nature amazing. Scientists have been trying to replicate the incredible strength of these silk threads for years. I don't know if they've succeeded yet. Lovely pictures, and congratulations on such a stroke of luck.

    • KaisMom profile image

      KaisMom 6 years ago from Keizer, Oregon

      Thanks Fennel and Seeker for your positive comments. Kai adjusted just fine after I took a couple pictures of him as well. (He loves the camera.) Thanks again!

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      Beautiful hub! It doesn't matter how often I've seen spider webs they never loose their capacity to create awe! These photographs are stunning and show these natural wonders at their very best!

      Great hub + voted up!! Ps - Hope Kai wasn't too impatient about having to wait a wee while longer for his walk!! LOL!

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 6 years ago from Australia

      Sorry to upset your walk, Kai, but I am so glad your master made a dash home to get her camera, these photos are just magic. Only in nature can we find such intricate beauty. Sorry to disrupt you spiders and I guess your precious webs become very vulnerable when visable, but oh, thank you Jack Frost and thanks Kasmom for an awesome hub. My votes to you, I will be back to read more of your work.