Why is spider silk sticky?

Answer

Not all spider silk is sticky. Only the parts of some webs that function to capture prey are truly “sticky.” Remember, though, that a given “thread” may be a group of many individual threads, much like a rope or a cable is designed. The individual fibers easily get tangled in objects and give the impression of being sticky. Truly sticky silk occupies the spiral of an orb web, beyond its center or “hub.” The silk consists of a “normal” thread punctuated by droplets of “glue” that trap prey. The spider itself does not become stuck because it navigates the dry radiating threads, literally tip-toeing on the tarsal claws at the end of each leg.

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