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Fancy footwork

A few clever adaptations generally prevent spiders from becoming ensnared in their webs. Spiders that make sticky webs leave some strands, often the radial strands, glue free. When maneuvering around their own webs, spiders tread carefully, differentiating between sticky and nonsticky threads.

Claws and spines on the feet of spiders also make it easier for them to move around the web. They can grip a thread between the claw and spines. Upon release of the claw, the rebound of the spines pushes the thread away from the foot. This facilitates release of the thread even if the spider happens to grab one of the sticky ones. For some spiders, a fluid excreted through hollow hairs on the legs may also offer some stick prevention.

Even if a gust of wind tosses a spider onto the sticky strands of its own web, it can work itself free. Insects can sometimes escape from a web if they have enough time. For example, green lacewings tug and cut strands of the web until they have freed everything but their wings. Their hair-covered wings don't stick to the web very well, and eventually the insect falls free, but only if the spider doesn't get to it first.

Spiders have no qualms about eating each other. If a spider is unlucky enough to get stuck in the web of a larger spider, it will likely end up as dinner. A male spider courting a lady spider doesn't even need to get caught in her web to find himself the main course.

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