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On a recent visit to ZSL London Zoo I discovered something fascinating about this little fella. Warning though, proceed passed here at your own peril arachnophobes! 
This little chap is the Golden Silk Orb Weaver or Nephila Edulis. It's habitat is tropical forest, usually in Australia and New Guinea. It's prey is mainly flying insects and it rarely bites. It's said to be useless off its web  
So why is it so useful to humans? Well, the silk that it makes its web with is an incredibly useful resource. Get this: 
 
A single strand is long enough to circle the earth (40,000 km) yet weighs less than a bar of soap  
 
A rope of spider silk as thick as a pencil could stop a Boeing 747 mid-flight 
 
It is tougher than Kevlar, which is used to make bullet proof vests  
 
And it's been providing silk for years! Napolean is said to have had stockings made out of spider silk and hunters from tribes in New Guinea used orb spider webs as fishing nets. They would make frames from sticks and wait for the spiders to spin a net for them! Ingenious 
 
So, it's tempting to get rid of that horrible looking spider that runs out from under my sofa, but before I do, I shall spare a thought for what that spider might be quietly and unassumingly doing for me and perhaps pop him or her safely in the garden 
 
Thanks to ZSL London Zoo for the facts! 
 
 
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Tagged as: Silk production
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