Learning Library

# Bad Vibrations: How Do Webs Help Spiders Get Prey?

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### Research Questions:

• How will a spider react to a tuning fork that touches its web?
• Does the frequency with which an insect touches a spider’s web affect how quickly the spider reacts?

How does a spider realize when a fly gets caught in its web? The vibrations in its web let it know that something has been captured. You can see how a spider reacts to these vibrations by holding a vibrating tuning fork up to the web. But does the frequency of the vibrations matter? Find out, using this science project.

### Materials:

• Spider web with spider
• Tuning fork
• Wooden block

### Experimental Procedure:

1. Find a spider web that has a spider on it.
2. Grasp the handle of the tuning fork.
3. Tap a prong of the tuning fork against the wooden block.
4. Gently hold one of the prongs of the tuning fork against one strand of the web, approximately 6 inches away from the spider.
5. Time the spider to see how long it takes to reach the spot that the tuning fork was touching. Record the time in a table, such as the one below.
6. Wait several minutes before continuing, to give the spider time to rest.
7. Tap the prong of the tuning fork more strongly against the wooden block.
8. Gently hold one of the prongs of the fork against a strand of web that is about 6 inches away from where the spider is currently.
9. Record the time it takes the spider to reach that point in your table.
10. Repeat this process several times, interspersing hard taps and light taps on the wooden block.
11. Analyze your data. Does the frequency of the vibrations affect how quickly the spider responds?

Terms/Concepts:· Frequency (high and low); How does a tuning fork work?; How do spiders react when prey gets caught in their webs?; What kinds of prey do spiders capture?

Reference:

Experiments You Can Do in Your Backyard, edited by Joanna Callihan and Nathan Hemmelgarn, page 26.

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