Spiders are using their webs to extend their hearing • Earth.com

Spiders are using their webs to extend their hearing


Today’s Video of the Day from Binghamton University describes how spiders can use their webs to extend their hearing. For more than three decades, Professor Ron Miles has been investigating how small animals like insects can detect sounds.

In collaboration with Professor Ron Hoy of Cornell University and Binghamton doctoral student Junpeng Lai, Professor Miles discovered that orb-weaving spiders use their webs to capture sounds. This strategy could give them advanced warning of incoming prey or predators.

“The spider is really a natural demonstration that this is a viable way to sense sound using viscous forces in the air on thin fibers,” said Professor Miles. “If it works in nature, maybe we should have a closer look at it.”

The study revealed that spiders may actually be able to customize their webs to hear different sorts of sounds. The experts explained that by crouching and stretching, spiders may be changing the tension of the silk strands. This would allow them to tune into different frequencies. 

Going forward, the team would like to test whether other types of web-weaving spiders are using their silk to extend their hearing.

“It’s reasonable to guess that a similar spider on a similar web would respond in a similar way,” Ron Miles said. “But we can’t draw any conclusions about that, since we tested a certain kind of spider that happens to be pretty common.”

Video Credit: Binghamton University 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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