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The web of the long bodied cellar spider pholcus phalangioides araneae pholcidae



The web of the long bodied cellar spider pholcus phalangioides araneae pholcidae



Zoologischer Anzeiger 216(3-4): 151-169



Both sexes of Pholcus phalangioides build a three-dimensional permanent web with an irregular network. The spider does not produce a retreat; many spiders, however, sit on special resting-places during inactivity. Pholcus phalangioides prefers to inhabit cellars. Most webs are found in corners between ceiling and wall, in the angles of walls, around unenclosed pipes and in gaps between pieces of furniture. The spiders tend to build webs in the upper areas of the walls. The threads are anchored on the masonry by thread-loops, which are embedded in broad bands of adhesive. Inside the web, adhesive is only found at knots (= points where two threads which cross each other are tied together) and suspension points (= points where a thread is suspended to another). The gum hardens and dries in a short time and does not make the threads adhesive. As a rule, each thread is composed of two components: a tightly stretched axial thread and one or several "screw threads". Some threads of the supporting web structure are thraed bunches. The effectiveness of the web in catching flying insects is due to a) the density of the threads (which increases with the age of the web), b) the structure of the threads (the bristles and claws of the prey become entangled in particular in the screw threads), and c) the existence of thread-tangles (which act as snares). Generally, crawling arthropods are not retained very effectively by the Pholcus-web; in the catching of such animals, the importance of the web lies mainly in signalling the presence of prey to the spider.

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