The Secret Behind the Creation Of Cobwebs

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The majority of cobwebs are actually formed from abandoned spider webs. These home-abandoning spiders, mainly those of the species Theridiidae, build these sticky webs for catching prey.

If you’re old enough to be reading an article on the Internet, then surely you’re familiar with cobwebs by now. These pesky webs form in the corners of our rooms, along the edges of ceilings and on the sides of our walls. You can get rid of them easily, but without fail, they seem to come back in no time!

The common assumption is that these cobwebs form randomly due to dust particles adhering to each other (maybe they’re just lonely). However, cobwebs don’t spontaneously form…the real secret behind cobwebs is actually far more creepy.

Cobwebs are made by Spiders!

As it turns out, the majority of cobwebs are actually formed from abandoned spider webs!

That’s right, these home-abandoning spiders, mainly those of the species Theridiidae, build these sticky webs for catching prey (spiders also use their silk to make cocoons for their eggs). Over time, however, dust accumulates on the web, and the spider has to abandon it and build a new one. That’s the reason why you never see a spider on a cobweb, even though the eight-legged arachnid is responsible for its creation!

What About Single Strands of Dust?

Okay, so now we know that the haphazard cobwebs were once active spider webs, but what about those single strands of dusty material that are seen hanging from the ceiling? Are spiders responsible for those too?

In fact, they are. Spiders, as well as a few other tiny arthropods, have the ability to produce silk strands for travel and protection. Spiders specifically use this strand of silk as a safety line when they jump or swing from place to place. It’s a bit like Spider-Man, if you think about it. Or rather, Spider-Man behaves like spiders!


Credit: Alexandra-Auditore/ DeviantArt

Again, these left-over strands of silk gather dust over time, resulting in those single irritating dust strands that we’ve all walked through and had a miniature tantrum trying to pull them off our face.

Well, there you have it: Spiders are the secret behind the dust streamers decorating our homes. As strange as it may sound to some people, perhaps spider-enthusiasts may find cobwebs interesting, as they can be used to track the movements and web-building habits of spiders. Or maybe not.

Spiderwebs are very difficult to spot due to the razor-thin strands of which they’re made, and by the time you do spot them, the spider is likely gone and the web is already lined with dust, abandoned for a newer home!


  1. University of Kentucky
  2. The Tree of Life Web Project
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About the Author:

Brendan has a Bachelors of Science degree in Biotechnology from Mumbai University (India). He likes superheroes, and swears loyalty to members of the Justice League. He likes to take part in discussions regarding the human body, and when he is not doing that, he is generally reading superhero trivia.

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