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Researchers Discover Spider's Silk Steering Line

Watch footage of silk being put to use by high-jumping spiders

In a paper published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface by Kai-Jung Chi of Taiwan’s National Chung Hsing University, research has shown that spiders use silk draglines when lauching themselves into a jump to stabilise themselves. The study was conducted with a species of spider called Hasarius adansoni, a common type of jumping spider. As the spiders launch themselves towards their taget, they rapidly produce a silk dragline which ensures they arrive at their taget with a soft landing. 

In the footage embedded below, you can see that the spider uses a silk dragline to steer themselves into a balanced landing. Spiders jumping the same distance without a silk dragline landed awkwardly with a crash. Stability while jumping is important for spiders, especially when you consider that they can jump a length which is 50 times the length of their bodies; the equivalent of a human jumping the length of a football pitch! Their silk steering lines can stretch to 40% beyond its original length without breaking, making it the perfect jump rope.

Silk Worms vs Spiders

The silk found in Silksleep products, such as our silk duvets, originates from Mulberry silkworms. Spiders can also produce silk and as discussed in our previous blog on spider silk as body armour, it can be ten times tougher than body armour component Kevlar. The downside to spider silk is that it takes much longer to produce, causing it to be prohibitively expensive.