A spider’s web can be a thing of beauty. In addition to catching bugs for dinner, the silky threads help the spider move about. Biologists have documented how these eight-legged creatures spin super-strong silk and use it to carry them in the wind. When the sticky silk reaches a distant anchoring point, the spider simply walks across on this manufactured tightrope. In 2015, as documented in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, researchers found that spiders can actually glide across bodies of water, as well, using their legs and abdomen as a sail and their silk as an anchor. Studying 325 adult spiders representing 21 common species found in a Nottingham nature preserve, the researchers found that the spiders could essentially “walk on water,” clutching the silk without fear of sinking.
With the greatest of ease:
- Biologists use the term “ballooning” when describing the wind-aided method of transportation that spiders utilize with ultra-long pieces of silk thread.
- Spiders can travel approximately 19 miles (30 km) a day by ballooning, if conditions are right.
- In the 19th century, naturalist Charles Darwin documented the spider’s ingenuity, writing about how spiders would drop onto the deck of his ship, the HMS Beagle, despite being miles away from dry land.