See the Real-Life Spider Woman That Shoots 80 Feet of Silk Across Rivers

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Written by Sharon Parry

Published: December 2, 2023

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Spider web in foggy weather. The web with dewdrops shimmers in the sun's rays. Spider web of dew drops. Pokut Plateau, Rize.
© Osman Temizel/Shutterstock.com

Meet the Darwin’s bark spider who has superhero skills to rival Spider-Woman but is only a fraction of her size! The female arachnid can shoot her web in one long continuous flow for 80 feet across a river. The delicate threads separate and drift apart above the water. To stop them from spreading too wide apart, she crimps them together now and again. Then, the breeze compacts the threads into a single line, forming a bridge across the water. This still needs re-enforcing!

So, she sets off on her perilous journey to carry out some bridge maintenance. This particular spider has another problem – a second spider is trying to cross her bridge from the other side. She ruthlessly cuts it, and the intruder plummets into the water! Then, she gathers what is left of the thread and stores it so that she can eat it later. For now, she is too busy starting all over again. The first job is to set a ground anchor to secure the structure, and then she gets to work. Darwin spiders build the largest webs of all orb spiders – they can span over six feet. Within a few hours, the web is ready, and she sits and waits for a victim. She doesn’t have to wait long!

Five Cool Facts About Darwin’s Bark Spiders

  1. The scientific name for Darwin’s bark spiders is Caerostris darwini, but they are known in Africa simply as ‘bark spiders.’
  2. Despite their name, these spiders don’t spend much time on bark! They live in their webs waiting for food.
  3. They are found in eastern Madagascar and have been spotted in Ranomafana. National Park and Andasibe-Mantadia National Park.
  4. The female Darwin’s bark spiders are bigger than the males!
  5. They produce one of the toughest spider silks ever discovered.

How Do You Spiders Normally Spin Webs?

Cardinal Spider, Scientific name Tegenaria Parietina sitting on its web, web in focus shot from the side

Different families of spiders build different types of webs.

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©Rav Kark/Shutterstock.com

Many species of spiders create webs, but the Darwin’s bark spider has turned it into an Olympic sport! Other spiderwebs are a little more modest but they are all incredible feats of engineering and they all look beautiful, especially on a frosty morning. The shape of a spider’s web will usually indicates the family that the spider belongs to.

The Darwin’s bark spider is a type of orb-weaving spider. Orb webs are the classic two-dimensional webs that look a bit like a bicycle wheel or a dartboard. They have several radial threads that act as a scaffold and then the additional threads are set down as a spiral. Other spiders build triangular webs which look like a slice of pizza, or sheet webs which are more like a hammock! Tangle webs just look like a tangled mess and funnel webs look like a funnel!


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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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