Spider web construction gallery

by Samuel Zschokke

This page presents a variety of spider webs, briefly describes how they are constructed and shows the spider itself. The thumbnail pictures in the rightmost column show the finished webs (a few more are to come). The thumbnail animations in the column next to it show the tracks of spiders during web construction. Whenever possible, I tried to match the two pictures in each species; i.e. the picture on the left shows the construction of the web shown to the right of it. The tracks have been coloured to emphasise the different phases of web construction:

(final part of) exploration phase
construction of radii
construction of auxiliary spiral
construction of sticky spiral
(in some species) construction of stabilimentum

I do not have enough space here to explain exactly how I recorded these tracks, but the general idea was to have the spider build a web in front of a video camera connected a image scanning device (to detect the spider in the picture) which in turn was connected to a computer (to record the spider's positions). A detailed description of the method can be found in my thesis and in Benjamin & Zschokke (2002).

The short descriptive texts are abridged versions of the descriptions found in Zschokke (1995) and in Zschokke & Bolzern (2007).

Name of spider and description of web construction


Web construction


Click on thumbnail to view larger picture

Araneus diadematus

I have taken the web construction of the common garden cross spider A. diadematus as the basis for comparison with that of the other spiders. See my separate page on web construction for details.
The garden cross spider was elected as the European Spider of the Year 2010.

Araneus diadematus spider

Araneus diadematus web construction

Araneus diadematus web

Araniella cf. cucurbitina

This species builds small orb-webs with only a few loops of the spirals. The inclination of its webs varies between horizontal and vertical, the recording shown is the recording of a vertical one.

Araniella cucurbitina spider

Araniella cucurbitina web construction


Larinioides patagiatus

Web construction in this species is similar to A. diadematus. Notable differences are that L. patagiatus often moves the hub after building the first few radii. Additionally, the hub is often displaced sideways in the web. Frame construction also differs from that of A. diadematus. The bundling of the path during the construction of the capture spiral is moderate.


Larinioides patagiatus web construction


Zilla diodia

The web Z. diodia is very finely meshed, more circular than other webs and features a particularly large hub. I had one observation (out of 33) where the lower radius was used as the exit radius for frame construction. This species is very special in the way it constructs the radii. Unlike most other araneid spiders, it incorporates the outer part of the provisional radius (= exit line) into the definitive radius, thus producing a definitive radius which is doubled on the outer part (where the tension in the radius is larger) and single on the inner part (Zschokke 2000)

Zilla diodia spider

Zilla diodia web construction

Zilla diodia web

Cyclosa oculata

The web of C. oculata is finely meshed and circular. Web construction of C. oculata shows some peculiarities: it often makes U-turns in the hub and in the auxiliary spiral and it builds a linear stabilimentum (shown in pink), usually supplemented by prey remains (Zschokke & Bolzern 2007).

Cyclosa oculata spider

Cyclosa oculata web construction

Cyclosa oculata web

Cyclosa insulana

The web of C. insulana is finely meshed and circular. Web construction of C. insulana shows some peculiarities: it often makes U-turns in the auxiliary spiral and it builds a linear stabilimentum (shown in pink), often supplemented by prey remains. When the web is completed, the spider sometimes sits head up in the web (almost all other orb-web spiders always face head down; Zschokke & Nakata 2010).


Cyclosa insulana web construction

Cyclosa insulana web

Argiope bruennichi

The web construction of the wasp spider A. bruennichi resembles very much the construction behaviour of A. diadematus, but the order of radius construction is somewhat different.

Argiope bruennichi spider

Argiope bruennichi web construction

Argiope bruennichi web

Argiope lobata

There is little difference between the web constructions of A. bruennichi (above) and its Mediterranean sister species A. lobata. A. lobata often incorporates U-turns in its auxiliary spiral.

Argiope lobata spider

Argiope lobata web construction

Argiope lobata web

Gasteracantha cancriformis 

The tropical spider G. cancriformis builds its webs at an angle of 45° to the vertical. It never makes any U-turns, neither in its auxiliary nor in its sticky spiral. However, it does turn around between the construction of the two spirals; this results in a 100% coiling similarity, i.e. both spirals having the same coiling throughout their full length (Zschokke 1993). The bundling of the path during sticky spiral construction is very strong.

Gasteracantha cancriformis spider

Gasteracantha cancriformis web construction

Gasteracantha cancriformis web

Cyrtophora citricola

The horizontal capture sheet in the web of the Mediterranean spider C. citricola features no sticky spiral, only a finely meshed auxiliary spiral with many subsidiary radii. Prey is intercepted in mid-flight by vertical threads spun above the orb, falls down onto the web and is caught by the spider which resides below the web. Radius construction is unlike that of any other araneid spider: on each trip to the frame, C. citricola builds two radii attached at the same point to the frame. Towards the end of actual web construction, C. citricola adds the vertical strands below and above the web (shown here in green). Unlike most other spiders in the family Araneidae which take about one hour to build a web which then lasts for one or a few days, C. citricola takes several nights to build its web which then may last for a couple weeks.

Cyrtophora citricola spider

Cyrtophora citricola web construction

Cyrtophora citricola web

Zygiella x-notata

The web of Z. x-notata stands out by having a free sector with a signal thread connecting the hub with the retreat. It builds this free sector sometimes by turning around at its edge and sometimes by removing the spiral threads on either side of the signal thread at the end of web construction. Webs built by newly hatched Z. x-notata differ from later webs, these webs are more circular and do not have a free sector.

Zygiella x-notata spider

Zygiella x-notata web construction

Zygiella x-notata web

Nephila sp.

Nephila is famous for the large 'golden' orb-webs it builds in tropical forests and savannas. Unlike most other orb-web spiders, it usually constructs more subsidiary than normal radii. Moreover, Nephila also leaves the auxiliary spiral in the finished web (Zschokke 2002). The spider's path during sticky spiral construction shows 'negative' bundling, i.e. instead of following the auxiliary spiral (like e.g. Gasteracantha cancriformis, see above) the tracks are spread evenly between the auxiliary spiral loops, leaving a small gap at the position of the auxiliary spiral.

Nephila spider

Nephila web construction

Nephila web

Uloborus walckenaerius

U. walckenaerius, a cribellate spider, builds horizontal webs. The basic order of web construction in the Uloboridae is the same as in the Araneidae, leading to the hypothesis that the two orb-webs have the same evolutionary origin — a long and much discussed question. During the construction of the outermost loop of the sticky spiral, U. walckenaerius sometimes uses the frame (instead of the auxiliary spiral) to cross from one radius to the next.


Uloborus walckenaerius web construction

Uloborus walckenaerius web

Zosis geniculatus

The web construction behaviour of Z. geniculatus (a cribellate spider from the tropics) is quite similar to that of Uloborus walckenaerius. In this species, however, we never observed the use of a frame thread to cross from one radius to the next during sticky spiral construction. In most webs, Z. geniculatus adds a stabilimentum (shown in pink) with a short linear part and a small disc.

Zosis geniculatus spider

Zosis geniculatus web construction

Zosis geniculatus web

Hyptiotes paradoxus

The triangle spider H. paradoxus, another cribellate spider, builds a reduced orb-web, consisting of only four radii. During the construction of both the auxiliary and the sticky spiral, the spider walks back to the hub after laying one 'loop'. For the auxiliary spiral, the spider starts each 'loop' at the radius at the bottom and works up; for the sticky spiral, the spider starts at the radius at the top. Noteworthy is the rapid (4-5 Hz) zigzagging of the path during parts of the frame construction, caused by vibrations produced by the spider, probably to blur its outline as a defence against predators. Contrary to the popular and often printed belief, this spider does not always collapse its web when catching prey (Zschokke 2000).
The triangle spider was elected as the European Spider of the Year 2009.

Hyptiotes paradoxus spider

Hyptiotes paradoxus web construction

Hyptiotes paradoxus web

Fecenia singaporiensis

F. singaporiensis belongs to a family usually not considered to be orb-web spiders. However, the web construction of this spider has some surprising similarities to that of an orb-web; it features 'radii' (here shown in orange and brown) and a sticky 'spiral' (shown in light blue and green).
In this example, the spider first built the 'radii' on the right hand side (brown), followed by the sticky 'spiral' on the same side (light blue), followed by 'radii' and sticky 'spiral' on the left hand side (orange and green, resp.). The sticky 'spiral' is always built from the outside inwards, without the aid of any auxiliary 'spiral'. There was a noticeable difference between the displacement speed of the spider during 'radius' construction (29 cm/min) and 'spiral' construction (4 cm/min). It took the spider about two hours to build this web.
Unlike the true orb-web spiders, Fecenia lays down two sticky threads simultaneusly (Robinson & Lubin 1979).


Fecenia singaporiensis web construction

Fecenia singaporiensis web

Psechrus sp.

The genus Psechrus belongs to the same family as Fecenia, but its web construction shows fewer similarities to orb-web spiders than Fecenia. After an initial phase (shown here in red) Psechrus sp. showed a tendency to build the web in more or less straight movements (equivalent to radii? construction, shown here in yellow) and then to proceed in more circumvented paths (shown here in light blue and dark blue), which however do not resemble any spiral construction at all. When walking in more circumvented paths, two distinct speeds could be distinguished without any obvious difference in the path geometry. The spider alternated between two periods of higher speed (with an average speed of 21.8 cm/min, light blue) and two periods of lower speed (with an average speed of 4.27 cm/min, dark blue), most likely indicating the use of different kinds of silk (higher speed = non-sticky silk, lower speed = cribellate sticky silk).


Psechrus web construction


Page compiled and © by Samuel Zschokke  (last modified 18-Jul-2012)