Questions for “Tiny spider uses silk to lift prey 50 times its own weight”

mall Steatoda spider hoisting a lizard

A small Steatoda spider uses its own version of a pulleylike system, created by adding repeated silk threads. This can haul heavy loads upward bit by bit, such as this lizard.

Emanuele Olivetti

To accompany “Tiny spider uses silk to lift prey 50 times its own weight


Before Reading:

1.  Why do spiders spin webs? That is, what’s the webs’ purpose?

2.  What is a pulley and how do people use such a simple machine to lift heavy items?

During Reading:

1.  What two species of spiders did Gabriele Greco and Nicola Pugno study? They’re called tangle web spiders. Why?

2.  How does one of these spiders typically initially catch its prey?

3.  How does one the spider then get that prey into its web?

4.  How big a prey can these spiders successfully catch?

After Reading:

1.  Engineers often look to nature for new materials and ways of accomplishing some task. What might they learn from these spiders? Put your thinking cap on and imagine how someone might use the spiders’ hauling prowess as some new tool or in some product. Describe that innovation.

2.  Why might one of these tangle-web spiders go after truly big prey? What advantage might they get from it?