Composition and substrate-dependent strength of the silken attachment discs in spiders

Ingo Grawe, Jonas O. Wolff*, Stanislav N. Gorb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Araneomorph spiders have evolved different silks with dissimilar material properties, serving different purposes. The two-compound pyriform secretion is used to glue silk threads to substrates or to other threads. It is applied in distinct patterns, called attachment discs. Although ubiquitously found in spider silk applications and hypothesized to be strong and versatile at low material consumption, the performance of attachment discs on different substrates remains unknown. Here, we analyse the detachment forces and fracture mechanics of the attachment discs spun by five different species on three different substrates, by pulling on the upstream part of the attached thread. Results show that although the adhesion of the pyriform glue is heavily affected by the substrate, even on Teflon it is frequently strong enough to hold the spider's weight. As plant surfaces are often difficult to wet, they are hypothesized to be the major driving force for evolution of the pyriform secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20140477
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number98
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adhesion
  • Araneae
  • Compound material
  • Hierarchical structure
  • Silk
  • Tensile test


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