Sticky threads improve an orb web's ability to retain the insects that strike it, allowing a spider more time to subdue these insects before they can escape from the web. The adhesive capture threads found in most orb webs feature small droplets of aqueous material. Inside each droplet, glycoprotein granules coalesce to impart thread stickiness. An independent contrast analysis of threads produced by the adults of five species (Leucauge venusta, Argiope trifasciata, Micrathena gracilis, Cyclosa conica, Araneus marmoreus) and ontogenetic studies of the threads of two of these species show that the volume of material in a thread's droplets is directly related to its stickiness. Models based on these analyses predict thread stickiness to within an average of 11% of the mean measured values using measurements of droplet diameter and distribution that are easily made with a compound microscope. This approach will facilitate the inclusion of thread stickiness in studies that examine the properties and performance of spider orb-webs.
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