Threads that make up the orb‑web of the cross spider experience deformation when a positively charged insect enters the neutral or negative field through electrostatic attraction.

Cross spiders, also known as European garden spiders, belong to a group of spiders that are known for constructing orb-webs. An orb-web experiences crossing in the center; please see the gallery for an example of an orb-web. It is believed that the silk threads of orb-webs remain at a neutral or slightly negative charge. Insects, such as honeybees, can collect positive charges when flying through the air or interacting with areas of high positive-ion concentration. If an insect develops a positive charge and flies or walks past an orb-web, the opposite charges interact electrostatically causing an immediate attraction. Threads on orb-webs of the cross spider have been observed to deform from their regular shape as a positively charged insect passes by. This may provide insight in a more sustainable way to capture pests in our gardens and maybe someday even our farm fields (without the use of harmful pesticides).To see for yourself, please view the research video

Last Updated September 14, 2016