Spider webs aren’t really homes for spiders — they are actually traps for catching small insects that spiders eat. Not all spiders spin webs, and those that do, spin a variety of webs. You are probably most familiar with orb-webs, those made by garden spiders. Look for them on fences, window frames, and spanning garden plants. Have you ever come across one glistening with dew on a summer’s morning?
You can preserve webs by mounting them on black paper that has been sprayed with hairspray. Place the paper in a cardboard box before spraying it to protect the area around you from the spray. Work quickly because the hairspray needs to be slightly tacky. If you want the strands of the web to stand out, sprinkle them first with talcum powder. Spray the paper with a protective coating once you get home.
Many of the webs you come across will no longer have a spider in residence. A gentle tap on the strands will sometimes alert the web’s owner, thinking an insect has been caught in the sticky strands. If the web is occupied, leave it alone and find another.
Native Americans believe that spiders are magical creatures. They associate them with the sun, because many webs with radiating strands look like to the sun.
[Image: Courtesy of Flickr user Randy Baranczyk]