Try this the next time you see a spider web: touch it.
But I’ll get stuck! Nasty webbing will get all over my fingers! you cry.
Not if you touch the right part! See, spiders don’t want to get stuck
in their webs any more than you do, and they are not covered in some
kind of magical anti-stickiness. That’s why they use two kinds of silk
to spin their webs. One type is the sticky sort that brings flies to
their maker, but the other type is purely structural, not sticky, and
permits the spider to travel safely along the web. If you imagine a
spider web as a spoked wheel, the structural, non-sticky parts of a
web are the spokes. The sticky ones are the “spokes”
perpendicular to the main spokes. I tested this by touching the
spokes of an especially large, fine web today. It feels almost like a
very, very thin fishing line–quite smooth, and you can slide your
finger up and down without it catching. It even digs into your skin a
little bit. I believe it when they say spider silk is stronger than
Spiders–better engineers than any egghead from Silicon Valley.