How Do Spiders Make Silk?
Spiders make silk by using special organs on their abdomens. These organs produce a wide variety of types of silk. Some spiders use it to wrap prey, others to create a protective egg sac, and still others to travel long distances.
The silk used by spiders is a thin, elastic, and highly sticky fiber. It is also strong enough to trap and immobilize prey. There are many different types of silk, and some spiders even reuse their old silk to stay spinning.
The spigot-like organs that spin spider silk are called spinnerets. Most spiders have at least four spinnerets. They are small organs beneath the abdomen that extract and mix water and proteins to create silk. Each spinneret has multiple spigots that are aligned to make a single filament.
Spiders can produce a variety of different kinds of silk, including a sticky version that is stronger than Kevlar. This sticky silk is used to wrap prey, snare insects, and immobilize predators.
Spiders also make silk to build webs. Spiders build webs by twisting threads in concentric circles. In some species, they can do this several times. And when it is finished, it can reach several feet between trees.
Silk is often made from liquid proteins. But spiders can also make a strong silk strand by combining proteins and acids. A chemical reaction between proteins produces the substance.
Scientists have tried to figure out how to reproduce silk in a laboratory, but they have had a tough time. However, they have figured out how to extract it from spiders.