And the Web Thickens…

Morna Road (11), London, SE5

I almost thought that some guerilla knitters had been busy during the night, when I discovered this woolly web adorning a yellow frosty automobile this morning.

(If you haven’t heard of guerilla knitting then I suggest checking out some of these pictures, as they’re guaranteed to make you smile)

But no, this webbing was made of cold, hard, icy particles – not soft, fluffy, warm wool. Forming along the lengths and breadths of this old spider’s web, the delicacy of the frost reveals the subtle strength of this web that has survived hours worth of high winds and lashing rain, as it accompanied the little yellow machine on its journeys along the motorway all the way to a holiday caravan in windy Wales and back again.

Spider silk is notoriously strong, but its not only this that makes it so brilliant at its job. It also has the exceptional ability to break only at the point where a force has been applied – say by a human finger or a marauding bear. The web becomes really elastic when yanked hard, but then only the one (or few) strands that are being directly pulled will break, freeing the rest of the web which happily bounces back into shape, and is still as strong as ever. This is excellent news for the spider-owner, as there will only be a little bit of web to repair, instead of a whole new, extremely energy-intensive web-building exercise to undertake.

I do hope all the spiders are managing to keep warm though, whilst the frost is out and about pimping up their webs.

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