Largest spider web in the world – Darwin’s back spider

Posted on Apr 9, 2012 in Size

Darwin's Spider Web

Credit: Lalueza-Fox, C.; Agnarsson, I.; Kuntner, M.; Blackledge, T. A.










Largest web builder

Whilst it might not be the biggest spider on the block, this arachnid is responsible for the largest and strongest individually-constructed spider web the world has ever seen.


How big can it get?

Orb webs discovered in the spider’s native Madagascar can reach lengths of 25 metres (82 feet), enough to span flowing rivers from bank to bank. Not bad for a species in which the female rarely measures longer than 2 centimetres and the male is about five times smaller.


What does it eat?

Despite the size of the web, this bark spider is content dining on small insects, including mayflies and dragonflies.


How does it hunt?

It simply waits patiently until any unwitting insect flies into the web and finds itself immobilised. The spider resembles bark and twigs as it sits on the web, hence its title as a bark spider, which provides the perfect camouflage.


How dangerous is it?

Humans are not at risk from this teeny terror.


How many are left?

The spider was discovered on 24 November 2009, exactly 150 years after the publication of naturalist Charles Darwin’s The Origin of the Species – from which it derives its name. As such, scientists have yet to establish how many or how few of these spiders there are in existence. 


Anything else?

Size isn’t everything when it comes to this web. The silk spun by Darwin’s bark spider is also the strongest biological material ever discovered. These super-strong strands are ten times tougher than Kevlar, making them impenetrable for insects finding themselves caught up.


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