History, Mystery and Chemistry Facts of a Spider

Not so long ago in our primary schools we read a story.

Long long ago there lived Robert Bruce of Scotland who got defeated six times by the king of England and went and took shelter in a remote cave. And there he saw that spider – which was trying to weave its thread from one wall of the cave to the other – and was failing in every jump as its thread was a little shorter than actually required. But even after every failure the spider kept trying and finally succeeded in its seventh attempt in connecting the walls of the cave. And it went on to build a robust web thereafter.

Our brave Robert Bruce on seeing this learnt a lesson which is just a few words, but enormously not just motivational, but also practical – Keep Trying Until You Succeed.

No need to say that Bruce succeeded in his seventh attempt in defeating the king of England.

And yes this small insect, sorry it is not an insect, it is an arachnid- insects have six legs, spiders being arachnids have eight.

And yes this small arachnid has been motivational a lot for lot more things. You destroy a spider’s web, and no matter how many times you do it, it does not bite you, it does not scream, it does no cry, it does not give up, it does not sit idle and worry, it simply starts building a new web again. Patience is Virtue my dear and learn it from a spider. It takes a lot to become like a spider. And yes it takes a lot more to become a Spiderman!

Most of the times we fail not because we fail but because we give up when we are about to succeed.

Coming back to our spiders, vedic texts compare the relationship between universe and God to that of a spider and its web. They say, just like a spider creates a web out of itself and lies within it, God is both the container of the Universe as well as what is contained within it. What a great analogy isn’t it?

Spiders have exo-skeletons ie their skeleton is outside their body. Humans have endoskeletons ie our bones are inside our body. Now you got what is so special about being a spider? Well, a lot of species out there have exoskeletons. For large animals bones need to be protected and hence are inside their bodies. For very small animals bones themselves act as protectors and hence are outside their bodies. This is what I guess :)

And then going a step forward, Spiders digest their food outside their body! Yes, as soon as a prey is caught in the web, the spider arrives and starts pouring its digestive enzymes on the prey, and these enzymes simply break the prey and digest it outside the spider’s body into a hopefully delicious liquid which the spider then swallows or may I say drinks.

What else? A strand of a spider’s web is stronger than a strand of steel of the same thickness! Solid construction isn’t it? And it is also bullet proof. Unfortunately scientists haven’t been able to construct this material artificially yet. Spiders also use their silk as parachutes as many of us have seen.

Researchers, who basically are people who do things without knowing what they are doing, dropped flies injected with drugs on spider’s webs and found that the spiders who ate these created webs in a wild unruly manner. And then when they dropped flies injected with alcohol, spiders who ate them stopped weaving their web midway and went for a tight sleep. Well, do you need to do an experiment to know these results? :)

Spiders also have the habit of swallowing back their old web before creating a new one. Raw materials are after all very precious. Don’t we recycle old steel? Spiders started doing it millions of years ago. And look at the beauty of these webs. As Edwin Way Teale said,

The difference between utility and utility plus beauty is the difference between telephone wires and the spider web.

What else? Heard about Black Widow? The female adult of this poisonous species of spiders is well known for her intention to eat her male partner, and she does this when she mistakes her male to be her, what else? meal.

Bolas spiders “fish” and yes they literally fish in the waters. They fish for moths by hanging down a sticky strand of silk filled with a substance that is similar to a chemical called pheromone which moths use to attract their mates.  Moths searching for mates meet their fate and become moth, the late.

Spiders can also perform other stunts which if humans performed would become a youtube video and be aired on AXN. Some spiders also walk on water!

Spiders are also helpful. They eat a lot of insects and can help you keep your garden free of pests, just like lizards do.

Some spiders have upto eight eyes, some twelve, many have six too. And yet spiders are short sighted!


A Tarantula

Even though spiders usually live for a year or two, Tarantulas - the largest spiders live for around 25-30 years! Unlike what many think, the bites of Tarantulas are not deadly. And if you are scared of a spider, then you have arachnophobia. Everybody is scared of something or the other, and they simply gave a name to this fear, by stealing a word from greek or latin and made it appear as if it was some illness. Hydrophobia, Androphobia, Gynophobia, well…. how about Phobiophobia?

And finally,

Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.
- Honore de Balzac

  • Srikanth Rangdal

    Every re read gives a new meaning to your posts…
    Plz start posting again.