DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of False black widow spider (Steatoda sp.) first leg tarsus and claws. The claws are adapted to combing the secreted silk coming from the spinnerets. These claws are often referred to as a comb claws. Most spiders have two or three claws at the tip of their legs. Web weavers such as Steatoda sp. have three. There is one smoother middle claw (which appears smaller) that is used to grasp silk threads while weaving a web. Many spiders of this genus are mistaken for the widow spiders (Lactrodectus spp.) hence their common name. Steatoda spiders construct a tangle web that consists of an irregular tangle of sticky silk fibres. As with other web weavers, these spiders have poor eyesight and depend mostly on vibrations reaching them through their webs to orient themselves to prey or to warn them of larger animals that could injure or kill them. Magnification: x535 when shortest axis printed at 25.
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