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Spider Spinnerets

9-30-13 black and yellow sp. spinnerets2 IMG_4897Responses to yesterday’s Mystery Photo ranged from immediate deletion by a reader (due to the unappealing nature of the photo), to guesses including “bee butt,” “caterpillar mouthparts” and “deer tick.” Most responders, however, guessed correctly – the photograph was of the spinnerets of a Black-and-Yellow Garden Spider, Argiope aurantia.

Most spiders have six spinnerets — organs located on their abdomens from which silk is extruded. The individual spinnerets move independently yet in a highly coordinated manner. Each spinneret is dotted with many tiny spigots, through which various types and thicknesses of silk are extruded. The strong muscles that move the spinnerets also force liquid silk through the narrow spigots. This pressure, as well as external pulling by the spider, rearranges the liquid silk molecules into a solid but flexible thread. Although spider web silk is only about one millionth of an inch thick, weight for weight, it is stronger than steel (but not as strong as Kevlar). Unlike in the Mystery Photo, the spinnerets in this photograph are extruded and in use.

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9 responses

  1. Marilyn

    Fascinating! And amazing.
    Interesting that some folks had a negative response to yesterday’s close-up.

    September 27, 2013 at 12:07 pm

  2. dellwvt

    Wow! Look at all those lines of silk – I’ve always been amazed at the web-makiing process, and seeing this photo only magnifies my awe!

    September 27, 2013 at 1:41 pm

  3. gale schmidt

    Hi, Mary-

    I look forward to your posts, and have supported them, somewhat, financially. Thus, my suggestion may seem counterintuitive. I’m spending a lot of time trying to keep up with your posts! The suggestion: Less may be more, in that we might treasure your observations more if there were fewer of them.

    Please do not take offense!

    Gale Schmidt

    September 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    • dellwvt

      Oooo . . . I would not concur with this thought, Gale. Though if it made your life easier, Mary, I would be happy for you. But I do really look forward to your posts (nearly) every morning. They stand out like jewels amidst the debris of mundane messages that litter my Inbox each day.

      September 27, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      • How eloquently stated, dellwvt. Much appreciated!

        September 27, 2013 at 2:59 pm

  4. Louanne Nielsen

    I believe the Black and Yellow Argiope spins a web with a bold zig-zag ‘stitch’ through the middle of the web, making it more noticeable in the garden

    September 27, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    • dellwvt

      I’m so glad to read Louanne Nielsen’s description of the Black and Yellow Argiope. We had 5 of those stunning spiders, with their interesting web designs, in different parts of our flower gardens this summer. (I was wishing I had a better camera, to take a clear close-up and send it to you, Mary.)

      September 28, 2013 at 2:59 am

  5. Marilyn

    I agree with dellwvt. I really appreciate all the information you provide and look forward to the exquisite pictures. Jewels they are!

    September 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm

  6. I am with dellwvt and Marilyn. Your posts make my mornings!

    September 27, 2013 at 5:47 pm

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