Social Question

EmptyNest's avatar

Is there really a difference between a cob web and a spider web?

Asked by EmptyNest (2028 points ) December 11th, 2011

I always thought cob webs were dust and spider webs were woven by spiders. Is this right? Someone told me cob webs were just old abondoned spider webs. I don’t think so.

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10 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I thought they were just abandoned webs, too…. that have collected dust. I guess they could be just dust. Dust bunnies are sticky like cobwebs, but they don’t have that webby shape.

marinelife's avatar

From The Straight Dope:

“Yes, cobwebs are made by spiders. Arachnologically speaking, a “cobweb” is a web made up of short irregular strands arranged haphazardly, as opposed to the elegant and elaborate orb webs made by spiders of the family Araneidae. The “cobweb spiders” make up the family Theridiidae. One of the commonest in the U.S. is the common house spider Achaearanea tepidariorum. Because the strands are sticky, they gather dust, producing the long fluffy streamers you see. The notorious black widow spider Latrodectus mactans also belongs to this family. Another spider which may be responsible for webs around the house is the long-legged cellar spider Pholcus phalangioides of the family Pholcidae, which makes loose irregular webs in dark places.

Some stray strands of cobweb aren’t (and never were) part of a web, haphazard or otherwise, but are produced by spiders or other arthropods just the same. Jumping spiders, for example, trail a dragline wherever they go, but don’t make webs. A single filament like this can sometimes get into the airstream and land and stick somewhere. Likewise, as readers of Charlotte’s Web know, many spiders will disperse from their egg sac by “ballooning,” which involves trailing a long filament of silk from the spinnerets until the air currents catch hold (like flying a kite more than ballooning, I suppose). These filaments can obviously occur indoors if that’s where the egg sac was located, or they may blow in from the outside. Similarly, many tree-feeding moth larvae will make silk “escape” lines if they feel threatened, and these lines can break loose and get into the air.”

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Wow. So dust bunnies are made by spiders, too?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Does that mean that dust bunnies have more legs than regular bunnies?

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

They are like little spider farts.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf ; Physicist jokes and spider farts??? You’ve got me on the floor, tonight!

trailsillustrated's avatar

now this I have always wondered. When I was a child I used to say, “but what is a cob? there is no such thing as a cob!”

JilltheTooth's avatar

@trailsillustrated : A cob is a male swan. Who knew they farted webs? And how did they get into my house without me noticing?

Mariah's avatar

I always thought the same as you, @EmptyNest. Thanks for the factoid, @marinelife, except now that I know they come from spiders I might be more creeped out by cobwebs. Damn.

Also, just thought I’d throw this doodle from high school at this thread.

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