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Be A Web Master!

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Author: Jane Healey

Grade Level: 6th; Type: Life Science

Objective:

The goals of this project are to explore the variety of webs that spiders weave and to collect specimens for identification. Based on the type of web, students can predict the species of spider. To gather the webs, students need keen observational skills, patience and an assistant.

Research Questions:

  • What are spider webs and cobwebs? 
  • What does the design of a web reveal about the spider that wove it?

Spiders have been weaving webs for almost 150 million years, and over the course of time, they have adapted the designs of their webs to suit their environments and the available food supply. Most webs are constructed to catch prey and provide nutrition for the spider, but not all webs are sticky traps, and some spiders don’t even weave them.

Web design indicates the species of spider and the purpose of the silken structure. The most common designs are:

  • Spiral orb webs
  • Funnel webs
  • Tubular webs
  • Sheet webs
  • Tangle webs or cobwebs

Collecting as many varieties as possible may require multiple searches that vary the location and time of day.

Materials:

  • Black construction paper or poster board
  • Spray glue
  • Spray varnish
  • Field guide
  • Garden gloves
  • Scissors
  • Logbook

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Select an area to search—the backyard, the garage, the attic, an open field.
  2. Look in likely places such as the corners of structures, the bases of trees, the surfaces of shrubs, etc.
  3. When you locate a good specimen, record the details of the place in the logbook.
  4. Gently place a piece of black paper behind the web until it touches the specimen.
  5. Spray a thin film of glue over the web and paper.
  6. Cut the threads around the edges of the web to release it.
  7. Place the web where it will not be disturbed and allow the glue to dry.
  8. Spray a layer of varnish over the web and allow 24 hours to dry.
  9. Consult the field guide and identify the species that created the web.
  10. Compare the field guide’s information with your logbook details as secondary support.
  11. To visually display these webs, mount them with photographs of their original location, explanations of the species and sample drawings of the classification that the web belongs to. Include of magnifying glass for close examination.

Terms/Concepts: Cobwebs; Spider webs; Spinnerets

References:

 

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