The effects of geometric regularity in spider web architecture on the capture of prey


  • Nadia Tarazi


Webs allow spiders to trap prey without spending the energy needed to chase it down.
There exist many different types of web architectures, which exhibit high levels of
structural diversity. Two very common shapes are the spiral orb web and the sheet web,
which mainly differ in architecture - spiral orb webs have a high degree of geometric
regularity while sheet webs are completely irregular. An advantage of geometric
regularity in any structure is the ability to evenly disperse kinetic energy, therefore
reducing the likelihood that the structure will succumb to instability and break. In this
study, I compared the number of prey caught in orb webs and sheet webs to see if their
architectural differences could affect the number of prey they can trap. I monitored
spider webs near my house and compared the average number of prey trapped in orb
webs and sheet webs. The results were statistically significant, indicating that webs with
geometrically regular architectures can trap more prey. Ultimately, this study can give
us insight into how the structures and material properties of webs balance each other to
work as functioning traps for prey, and may help reveal new possibilities for the
application of spider silk analogues.