Cobweb Creation Unraveled: Where Do Cobwebs Come From?

Ayan Banerjee
Jan 09, 2023 By Ayan Banerjee
Originally Published on Nov 02, 2021
Edited by Amy Lines
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
Cobwebs on field plants morning Sunshine.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.0 Min

Do you find cobwebs spooky on Halloween?

Cobwebs come from spiders. Spiders are small arthropods that have eight legs, and their teeth are generally able to inject venom from biting.

As recorded by taxonomists, presently there are over 45,000 species of spiders distributed in 129 families in the world. These arthropods are known to be found almost on every continent except Antarctica and are able to establish their habitat everywhere with the exception of wind and sea colonization. They are carnivores who eat flying prey like mosquitoes. Generally, spiders build a small net using their spider silk to trap their prey, however, not all spiders are capable of building webs. The spider looks for support to weave its net. After the construction, it just waits for the prey to be trapped.

There are different categories of spider webs, which include spiral orb webs that are built by the family of Araneidae. Secondly, there are cobwebs or tangle webs that are associated with the family of Theridiidae. Thirdly, funeral webs are built by some modern and primitive spiders. Lastly, there are tubular webs and sheet spider webs. Most people are scared of spiders, because of their creepy looks and poisonous bite, but there are only a few species of spiders in the world that are dangerous to us. These spiders have bites that can be fatal, but most spiders only attack as a defense mechanism.

Cobwebs are generally made of the abandoned webs of the Theridiidae species of spiders. Initially, the spider combs the web using silk it produces from its spinneret glands, which is sticky and can easily trap small flying insects like mosquitoes or houseflies as prey. Spiderwebs are transparent when they are built. Later, when dust and dirt become attached to the web, only then is it considered as a cobweb. Several strands of this invisible silk may also be spun to catch the wind if a spider feels the urge to go swinging through the air, from one spot to another, just like we saw in the movie 'Spiderman'!

Spiders are mostly found in dark corners as they don't like being exposed to bright light. Spiders have the natural behavior of wandering throughout their environment and they sometimes unintentionally roam in building gaps or dark corners on the ceiling in a home. They can build their webs behind furniture, in a storeroom, or in a basement.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about where do spider mites come from? or where do ticks come from? here on Kidadl?

Do cobwebs only come from spiders?

There is a baseless assumption that cobwebs may form out of nowhere, as they are just a collection of dust particles sticking to each other that create a web-like structure. This is absolutely wrong, as cobwebs originally consist of abandoned spiderwebs.

Cobwebs are built by the family of Theridiidae spiders. These spiders are skilled hunters. When their nets are ready for hunting, there are sticky droplets that stick flying arthropods sitting on the web, forcing them to become food for the spider. Later, dust gets attached to these nets, forming cobwebs and damaging the nets. The spider then leaves that location and builds another web in another location. During Halloween, people decorate their homes with cobweb designs to give a spooky and scary appearance.

Where do house cobwebs come from?

Spiders tend to build webs in places where there is little air movement and a dark damp atmosphere. It is very easy for them to walk into your room and take shelter in some undisturbed corner.

They weave their nest for catching small insects and eating them, but when the spider abandons its web, dust and dirt are collected on these webs. This gives them a grayish look, which can be quite scary when larger in size. However, cobwebs are harmless, and they are neither venomous nor do they attract bats to your home. Cobwebs remind most of us to clean the out-of-hand corners of the home though! Although the dusty and sticky strands of tattered webs are not very hard to get rid of from the ceilings, they can occur again out of the blue very soon! Most people try to avoid these webs, perhaps thinking that the spider might still be there, which is not generally true.

The best web-cleaning appliance for many is the vacuum cleaner. A vacuum cleaner has a long neck and enough suction capacity to easily collect spider webs from windows, ceilings and even from fabric window covers. Soft dusters attached to a long handle can work as well. Creative homemade tools like attaching a piece of cloth on the top of a long broom or yardstick can also be used for dusting webs.

After getting rid of the dusty spider webs, it is advisable for a responsible adult to spray a safe insect repellent on the windows, behind big structures, and in any other hiding spots of house spiders to prevent them from building their webs again. The best possible way to prevent cobwebs is by stopping the stray spider from taking shelter in your home, making it their home too! Sealing any cracks in the windows and window sills and covering any vents with insect screens will help to prevent the occurrence of spider webs indoors.

Cobweb spiderweb with water drop

Where did the term cobwebs come from?

The term 'cobweb' comes from the Middle English 'coppeweb,' where 'coppe' means 'spider' in Old English.

The terms 'cobweb' and 'spider web' are often considered to have the same meaning. It is found that spiders from the family of Theridiidae (cobweb spiders) and Linyphiidae (money spiders) can produce cobwebs, while all other species of spiders produce spider webs. Abandoned spider webs covered with dust particles are called cobwebs. If we have a sharp eye, we can spot the difference in spider webs, as they look almost transparent, are strongly constructed, and are also very sticky. The spider sticks around them as they are newly built to trap tiny anthropods like ants and flies. If the web is covered with dust and is in a tattered state with strands almost hanging over the head, then it is considered a cobweb that has been abandoned by a spider long ago. This observation is important as cobwebs do not usually have spiders roosting in them.

Do only specific types of spiders make cobwebs?

Most species of spiders can spin webs, but only specific spiders can produce cobwebs. They produce silk, a natural fiber made of protein material to build the web, which is used to trap insects as their victim.

Spiders of the family of Theridiidae (cobweb spider) and Linyphiidae (money spider) can produce cobwebs. Theridiidae spiders are also known as tangle-web spiders and comb-footed spiders. This is a distributed family including over 3,000 species in 124 genera and is the most commonly found arthropod in most houses amongst the damp corners of the walls. Theridiidae spiders mostly build tangled webs. These nets mostly trap tiny ants that fall from the ceiling and become the food of the spider. This species of spider spins sticky capture silk instead of woolly silk and therefore dust gets easily collected on them, forcing the spider to build a new web elsewhere. Although most web forms are undescribed, some webs are made of viscid silk (Theridion type) and some (that may look like a sheet) are not made of viscid silk (Coleosoma type).

Spiders look for appropriate support for weaving their spider web, such as windows, behind old structures, or among debris that is covered in dust and lacking exposure to light. A spider gets food using the web and it will stay there until it starts getting hungry due to lack of food. Then, it abandons the web and builds a new home somewhere else. Even when spider webs are left abandoned, the spider silk used in building these webs still remains sticky enough to grab dust and dirt particles, pet hair, and any debris flying around the home. Seeing cobwebs in our home might be a reminder that it's time to clean the damp and far-to-reach corners of the house, though, to some, they may also remind us of Spiderman!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly factsfor everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for where do cobwebs come from,then why not take a look at where do stink bugs come from? or where do flies come from?

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Written by Ayan Banerjee

Bachelor of Science specializing in Nautical Science

Ayan Banerjee picture

Ayan BanerjeeBachelor of Science specializing in Nautical Science

Thanks to his degree in nautical science from T.S. Chanakya, IMU Navi Mumbai Campus, Ayan excels at producing high-quality content across a range of genres, with a strong foundation in technical writing. Ayan's contributions as an esteemed member of the editorial board of The Indian Cadet magazine and a valued member of the Chanakya Literary Committee showcase his writing skills. In his free time, Ayan stays active through sports such as badminton, table tennis, trekking, and running marathons. His passion for travel and music also inspire his writing, providing valuable insights.

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