Spiders are best known for the webs they make. A web is therefore crucial for a spider. It provides shelter, protection and it catches prey! Below you can find an overview of the most common webs in Belgium. But did you know that more than half of all spider species don't even make a web to catch prey? They use their jaws and legs to overcome their prey. Wolf spiders and jump spiders are ideal examples of these kind of spiders.
Funnel webs are horizontal webs that look a bit like a mat. At the back there is a funnel-shaped retreat in which the spider hides. If a prey gets stuck on the web, the spider rushes out and drags the prey into the funnel where it gets eaten. These webs are often made in a corner and can be very large and noticeable. The best known funnel webs are those of the house spiders, you can often see these webs in the corner of the garage, garden shed, basement, etc.
The Labyrinth spider, which is related to the house spiders, adds something extra to its funnel web. Vertical threads allowing for also flying insects to get caught. They fly against the threads and fall on the web. You can see these webs in the summer on low vegetation, often in large numbers!
• Flat web
• Looks like a mat
• With funnel-shaped shelter
• House spiders (Agelenidae)
This includes various types of webs, all of which have an open, spatial and somewhat disorderly appearance.
The cob web of Cob web spiders (Theridiidae) consists of tangled, messy silk together with threads that are tightly stretched against the surface. These threads have small adhesive droplets. If a crawling insect gets stuck, the thread detaches and the prey is lifted off the ground. Another example is the cribellate web that also consists of messy threads and is spun by Hackled mesh weavers (Amaurobiidae). These webs can often be found against walls and do not contain any adhesive. However, the spider combs the silk with the hind legs making it very curly. This ensures that the web works like velcro and is a very efficient way to trap insects. The Cellar spider, which you often see in the corners of the garage, garden shed or bathroom, also makes a messy web.
This is the typical web that you see in front of the window and that is often stretched out between plants. It’s a flat, round web that is easily recognized as it resembles a wheel. The support threads that run from the centre of the web look like wheel spokes. There is no adhesive on these threads, the spider uses them to move about in the web. One of these threads functions as a signal wire that transmits the vibrations and alerts the spider. If you follow this thread, you will find the spider!
The web also has spiral wires with small droplets of adhesive to catch prey. But also on these threads orb web spiders don’t get stuck, they have special claws on their feet so they can move around the web easily.
Sometimes you see silk in a zigzag pattern in the middle of the web. This is called the stabilimentum. Some spiders decorate their web with it to lure prey, camouflage themselves and make the web stand out for birds so they are less likely to fly through it.
• Flat, round web
• Vertical or horizontal
• Spokes and spiral wires
• Sometimes stabiliment
• Made by wheel web spiders (Araneidae), Stretch spiders (Tetragnathidae) and cribellate orb weaver spiders (Uloboridae)
Sheet webs look a bit like funnel webs because they also have a mat-like structure, but sheet webs don't have that many layers. The funnel-shaped retreat is also missing as the spider can often be found hanging upside down in the web. Just like the web of the Labyrinth spider, a sheet web has vertical threads above the sheet. These function to intercept flying insects and causes them to fall on the sheet. At that moment, the spider, hanging upside down, bites the prey through the web. On a morning with lots of dew, the sheet webs stand out in the grass. Only then can you see how many there are!
• Looks a bit like a mat
• Vertical wires
• Spider often upside down
• Sheet web spiders (Linyphiidae)
This is a simple, primitive web that consists of a silk tube from which various tripping wires extend. These webs are often made in a crevice in the wall or between tree bark. If a prey touches one of the trip wires, the spider quickly shoots out of its hiding place and grabs it. Due to the star-shaped position of the trip wires, the spider immediately knows where the prey is located! This type of web is made by the Six-Eye spiders (Segestriidae), of which the Segestria bavarica is a common species. During the day the spider hides in the tube, but at night it is ready to grab prey. Then you can see the front legs and part of the head sticking out!
• Silk tube
• Trip wires
• Six-eye spiders (Segestriidae)