How Do Spiders Choose Where to Spin Their Webs?

Where a spider builds its web depends on the type of spider it is. Different families of spiders have unique abilities and needs. From creating a web bowl under trees to spinning lines of silk that act as prey-detectors, spiders are strategic engineers when it comes to finding their next meal. 

Generally, spiders create their webs to catch prey. No matter how you feel about spiders, it’s hard to deny the intricacy of their webs. Not only is the design of a spider web impressive, the strength is almost unfathomable. Spider silk is five times stronger than steel of the same diameter. It’s clear that spiders are experts when it comes to weaving their webs… but how do they decide where to spin them? 

What are spider webs made of?

Spider webs are made up of various proteins. Just like your body uses proteins to build your hair, nails, muscles, skin and bones, spiders use proteins to produce different types of spider silk. This web silk is produced internally in liquid form and becomes solid as it leaves the spider’s body via a spider’s spinnerets. 

Depending on how strong, how sticky or how elastic a spider wants their web, they can order the proteins accordingly. A web’s strength comes from thousands of nano strands of protein woven together, much like a braided rope. Some webs can stretch four times their original length if the proteins are ordered for elasticity.



How do spiders make webs?

A spider’s first step to creating a web is called the “bridge thread.” The bridge thread is a long piece of sticky silk that dangles from one point. The silk will find its other end point by getting pulled by the breeze. Then, the spider creates a second thread by crossing the bridge thread. The weight of the spider pulls the second thread down, creating the center point of the web. This is when the spider begins to make a spiral by moving out from the inside. Finally, the spider creates its final spiral web—this time from the outside in—made of sticky silk and called the “capture web.” 

Most spiders can create 3-4 different types of silk depending what they need it for. Some species, like orb spiders, can produce seven different types of spider silk. These spider silk types are used to create nests, parasails, tunnels and even submarines for underwater hunting.

How long do spiders stay in one web? 

On average, it takes 30 to 60 minutes for web building spiders to weave a web. Even though spider webs are extremely strong, they don’t always last for long. Wind, rain and animals can all damage a web. Some spiders build new webs every day. Other spiders repair their damaged webs. Most spiders aren’t big on wasting their silk material and some will even eat their damaged webs so they can recycle the proteins into new webs. This can sustain hungry spiders when they fail to catch their daily meal.

Do all spiders weave the same kind of web? 

Each spider family has its own type of spinnerets, which is an organ used to spin the silk used for webs. These are what determine what type of web spiders can build. For example: 

  • Trapdoor Spiders. These spiders construct simple lines of silk which act as detectors. 
  • Sheet-web Builders. These spiders have silk that comes out in massive sheets… hence the name.  
  • Space-web Builders. These spiders have webs that take up a lot of space… hence the name… again.
  • Orb Weavers. These spiders have the most control over their webs. They create intricate, geometric webs that are finely-tuned to catch prey.
  • Theridiidae spiders. Create haphazard looking structures that we call “cobwebs” vs spider webs. Why are they called “cobwebs?” Because an old English word for spider was “coppe” or “atorcoppe” which translates as “poison head.”

How do spiders choose where to spin webs?

Spiders are genetically coded to build webs from birth. There is no learning curve and new hatchlings can immediately begin constructing their webs to trap food. Where they construct their web depends on the species. Here are a few examples: 

Trapdoor spiders

Trapdoors live in burrows. They dig a space in the ground and line it with silk. This is where they raise and protect their young. Their diet consists of a variety of insects and other arthropods. So, Trapdoor Spiders set up shop in vegetation where there will be plenty of bugs for them to eat. When their sensory silk line gets cut, the spider knows prey is nearby and will come out to ambush it. 

Sheet-web Builders

These spiders weave their webs on vegetation under trees. This is so they can catch insects that are on the ground or falling from the tree. These spiders connect a funnel-shaped burrow made of silk for their home. 

Certain types of Space-web Spiders build a bowl out of tangled thread and attach it to the lower branches of a tree. This way, anything falling from that area of the tree will drop into the bowl for an easy meal. 

Orb Weavers

Weavers will create asymmetries with their silk depending on where their web is built. This is to ensure that each line is in the path of a flying insect. To calculate the best shape and structure, the spider uses light cues and their own gravity compass.

Why do spiders make webs inside my building? 

If you have spider webs in your home or business, there’s a good chance you have other pests as well. Spiders are motivated by food, so spiders enter your space and decide to stay because you already have other insects for them to eat. Here are 3 other possible reasons why you have spiders: 

  • The building’s perimeter isn’t secure. Spiders on the hunt for food need a way to get in in the first place. Usually, they get in through cracks in the walls or foundation or through holes in window screens. They may also squeeze in through openings if your windows aren’t sealed properly. Seal up all holes and cracks with caulking. Patch up or replace damaged screens. 
  • Too much vegetation near the exterior walls. If you have bushes, plants, and flowers directly outside your home, there’s a greater chance of spiders eventually moving inside.
  • Not enough vacuuming. Vacuuming regularly is an extremely effective method of ridding your space of spiders. Along with vacuuming carpet, vacuum spider webs, too. This way, you’ll eliminate possible egg sacs.

Remove Spiders and Webs

Spiders and spider webs aren’t always welcome in homes and businesses. If pesky arachnids have decided to build their webs in your space, get in touch with Assured Environments today. We can determine where spiders are coming from, why they like your space and how to get rid of them.

Spider Web FAQ

Do spiders build their webs facing south?

Spiders don’t always build their webs facing south despite popular belief. Spiders do, however, often face their webs south and the common belief is that this prevents them from directly facing the sun.

Do tarantulas make webs?

Tarantulas don’t make typical spider webs but like the trapdoor spiders, they will line their burrow with silk.

Where does a spider’s web come from?

Spiders produce silk using glands in their abdomens but release the silk via spinnerets. These small nozzle-like protrusions spray the hardened web silk in whichever direction the spider aims.