Myth: All spiders make webs

Illustration: Henry C. McCook
Illustration: Henry C. McCook

Myth: All spiders make webs.

Fact: Technically, a web is not just anything a spider makes out of silk; it is a silk structure made to catch prey. Only about half of the known spider species catch prey by means of webs. Others actively hunt for prey (including members of the wolf spider, jumping spider, ground spider, sac spider, lynx spider, and other spider families), or sit and wait for prey to come to them (trap door spiders, crab spiders, and others).

Hunting spiders use their silk for the dragline (the single thread all spiders leave behind them when they walk), the egg sac, and in some species, the retreat (a little silk "house" the spider rests in), all shown below, but do not make true webs.

Spider Myths

"Everything that 'everybody knows' about spiders is wrong!" —Rod Crawford sets the record straight with Spider Myths.

Hunting spiders that make no webs

Wolf spider, Pardosa vancouveri
Photo: Rod Crawford

Wolf spider, Pardosa vancouveri

Ground spider, Zelotes fratris
Photo: Markku Savela

Ground spider, Zelotes fratris

Crab spider, Misumena vatia
Photo: Bob Thomson

Crab spider, Misumena vatia

Silk structures that are not webs

Dragline made by Metine orbweaver
Photo: Bob Thomson

Dragline made by Metine orbweaver. 

Egg sac made by Araneine orbweaver
Photo: Bob Thomson

Egg sac made by Araneine orbweaver. 

Retreat made by jumping spider
Photo: Bob Thomson

Retreat made by jumping spider. 

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close up of a spider

Spider Myth Resources

Explore even more! Additional spider resources and more myths (poor spiders can't catch a break!).

Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum
Photo: Cathy Morris/Burke Museum