Cobwebs and spider webs are structures created by spiders, generally for catching their prey. These are made with long continuous filaments of proteinaceous silk that extrude from a spider’s spinneret. Spider silk is known to have a tensile strength which is almost equivalent to that of high-grade steel.
Cobwebs vs Spider Webs
The main difference between cobwebs and spider webs is that cobwebs are three-dimensional webs that look tangled, irregular, and gum-footed while spider webs are symmetrical, sophisticated, and elegant looking two-dimensional webs.
Both the webs are made by different species of spiders. Cobwebs are specifically built by families of spiders namely Theridiidae and Linyphiidae. On the other hand, spider webs are spun by spiders grouped in the family Araneidae, Nephilidae, Tertagnathidae, and others.
In vernacular usage, the difference between the two is that cobwebs are the webs that have been abandoned by the spider while spider webs are those which are still in use.
Comparison Table Between Apps and Widgets
|Parameters of Comparison||Cobwebs||Spider Webs|
|Structure||Tangled, irregular, and gum footed webs that often collect dust and dirt||Elegant, sophisticated, and simple-structured webs that look freshly made|
|Design||Sheet webs and gum footed webs (with great diversity in web architecture)||Sheet webs, spiral orb webs, funnel webs, tubular webs, and tent webs|
|Types of Silk||Major ampullate silk||One, three, or four types of silk depending on the species of the spider|
|Function||Serve as nests, prey traps, and means of transport||Used for wrapping prey for later consumption, nesting, protecting an offspring, and also serve as a source of food|
|Producer||Family of spiders called Theridiidae (comb-footed spiders) and Linyphiidae (sheet weavers or money spiders)||Families of spiders such as Araneidae, Nephilidae, Tertagnathidae, and others|
|Location||Found indoors (mostly in corners that are isolated or not cleaned often)||Mostly found outdoors|
|Inhabitancy||Webs that have been abandoned by spiders.||Webs that are still in use.|
What are Cobwebs?
The word ‘cobweb’ was derived from the old English word ‘Coppe’ which now translates to ‘spider’. Cobwebs are the tangled, irregular, and gum-footed three-dimensional webs that are generally found in isolated and dirty corners of closed spaces.
These are spun by spiders of the families Theridiidae (comb-footed spiders) and Linyphiidae (sheet weavers or money spiders). Made of major ampullate silk, these webs serve as nests, prey traps, and means of transportation. A spider may also use cobwebs as launching pads to jump around the area in search of prey.
In the 16th century, people of the Austrian Tyrolean Alps wove cobwebs together to create a paper on which they could paint. In other parts of the world, these webs were also used to heal cuts and wounds quickly.
The word cobweb also refers to a web that has been abandoned by a spider. This usually happens when the availability of food is less.
What are Spider Webs?
Spider webs are symmetrical, elegant, and sophisticated webs that are spun by spiders of the families Araneidae, Nephilidae, Tertagnathidae, etc. These webs are two-dimensional and are mostly found outdoors.
Spider webs are spun in five different patterns – spiral orb web, funnel web, tubular web, sheet web, and tent web. The silk used to make them could be of one, three, or four types, depending on the species of the spider.
The two most common types of silks that spiders use to make webs are viscid silk and dragline silk. Viscid silk is wet, elastic, and sticky. It is used to build the outer spirals of a spider web, and often to catch and wrap small insects. Spiders may also extrude single strands of viscid silk as support while jumping from one place to another.
On the contrary, dragline silk is tough, dry, and strong. It is used by a spider to build the basic framework of a web. By virtue of its toughness, dragline silk provides structural stability to the web, allowing spiders and their offspring to nest in it.
Spider webs help in the clotting of blood as they are enriched with vitamin K. Due to this virtue, they were used in olden times to stop a wound from bleeding.
Spider webs are often distinguished as those webs which are still in use by spiders.
Main Differences Between Cobwebs and Spider Webs
- Cobwebs are tangled, irregular and gum-footed while spider webs are symmetrical, elegant, and sophisticated looking.
- Cobwebs are produced by spiders of the Theridiidae and Linyphiidae families while spider webs are produced by spiders of the families Araneidae, Nephilidae, Tertagnathidae, etc.
- The architecture of cobwebs is three dimensional while spider webs are two dimensional.
- Cobwebs have a diverse variety of architectural designs, the primary design being gum footed and tangled webs. On the contrary, spider webs can be of five different designs.
- Cobwebs are made of major ampullate silk while spider webs can be made from one to four different types of silk depending upon the species of spider.
- Cobwebs are generally found indoors while spider webs are found outdoors.
- In vernacular usage, cobwebs are those webs that have been abandoned by the spider while spider webs are those that are still in use.
Cobwebs and spider webs have many differences, be it structure, appearance, type of web, or type of silk. The most noticeable difference between the two is the architecture.
Cobwebs are three-dimensional webs that are tangled, asymmetrical, and comb-like. When the food seems inadequate, the spider is known to leave the cobweb behind and build another one in a new area. These unoccupied webs thus tend to collect dirt and dust over time.
On the contrary, spider webs are two-dimensional webs that look elegant, sophisticated, and freshly-made. They are built in specific designs, the most common being spiral orb web (showed in cartoons frequently).