Question Corner | Do spiders have sticky feet?

Dew drops on a spider web at Lammasingi, famously known as the 'Kashmira' of Andhra Pradesh, in Visakhapatnam district   | Photo Credit: DEEPAK K R

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Spiders do not have sticky or adhesive pads like frogs and lizards, instead, they have toe pads covered in tiny, branched hairs. Called 'setae', these hairs are also found in geckos and certain beetles. Each hair is just one-hundredth of one millimetre thick.

The feet of wandering spider Cupiennius salei is made up of about 2,400 'setae' and a study published last month (Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering) found that each hair showed unique adhesive properties.

The research team from Germany studied how each hair sticks to rough and smooth surfaces, including sandpapers, glass, epoxy resin. They also looked at how the hairs stuck at different contact angles. Group leader Clemens Schaber of the University of Kiel said in a release that the adhesion forces largely differed between the individual hairs, for example, one hair adhered best at a low angle with the substrate while the other one performed best close to a perpendicular alignment. The team writes that this variety helps spiders climb different surfaces.

The team studied the hairs under hi-tech microscopes to understand their structure. They found that each hair was different and had previously unrecognised structural arrangements.

Understanding spiders can help develop new and better residue-free artificial adhesives, adds the team.


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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 1:19:02 AM |

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