Sticky Spiders

Ever seen a spider get stuck in its OWN web??

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying – nope – it doesn’t happen! But WHY?

Just ask the sticky web master, Cribellate spiders! Their web silk is covered with tiny nanofibers that make it EXTRA clingy. Humans have made nanofibers too, BUT we can’t make them – UN-sticky. So what can spiders teach us about non-stick surfaces?

A lot! Says Anna-Christin Joel from Aachen University. These spiders use a peculiar tool to avoid sticking to their webs. Their hindlegs have a specialized comb covered with fingerprint-like ripples. These tiny ripples help repel the nanofibers.

Inspired by spider combs, Joel and team created a special foil covered in tiny ripples. Then they tried sticking spider web to the foil.

And? The ripples successfully REPELLED the sticky web!

Thanks to these web-weaving masters we’re closer to untangling the secrets of sticky nanofibers. Deciphering this antiadhesive code may help create better medical tools, fabrics, and filters.

OH what a tangled web WE weave!