Spider webs may act as most sensitive ‘ears’ in the known natural world

The bridge spider (Larinioides sclopetarius) uses its web to detect the sounds made by insects flying nearby and prepare itself for a potential meal


11 February 2022

female of Bridge spider or Gray cross spider (Larinioides sclopetarius) classic spider along seaside as city harbour, and they are often found on bridges; Shutterstock ID 2035737131; purchase_order: -; job: -; client: -; other: -

A female bridge spider (Larinioides sclopetarius)

Shutterstock/Dan Olsen

Some spiders can pick up sounds in the air using their webs as acoustic antennae, and because the spider silk responds so precisely to vibrating air molecules, the webs may act as the most sensitive “eardrums” in the natural world.

We already know that spiders can detect prey tangled in their webs by sensing vibrations in the silk using touch organs around their leg joints.

Now, Jian Zhou at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois and his colleagues have found evidence that bridge spiders (Larinioides …