Calculation of capture thread length in orb webs: Evaluation of new formulae

Astrid M. Heiling*, Marie Elisabeth Herberstein, Gerhard Spitzer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


This study provides ecologists and ethologists with an accurate tool to investigate the web investment of orb web spiders in the field. A crucial foraging investment for orb web spiders is the length of silk invested in each web. However, the different types of orb web silks have different costs for the spiders and must be treated separately. As the viscid silk material used to construct the capturing spiral in webs is more costly to produce and more likely to become limited than other types of silk, our study focuses on the length of these capture threads. We evaluate 3 formulae used to calculate capture thread length, by comparing their estimates with the actual total capture thread length measured from photographs of Nuctenea sclopetaria Clerck webs. The formulae used are from the literature and newly proposed ones. The results suggest the use of a newly proposed formula that not only provides agreement with the actual thread length but also is efficient and convenient for field studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-138
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of the Entomological Society of America
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Asymmetry
  • Capture thread length
  • Formulae
  • Nuctenea sclapetaria
  • Orb webs
  • Spider webs


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