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Crab spiders measure the wind before rolling balloons for flight

Penelitian - Spider flying uses nanoscale fibers to ride the wind. Scientists at Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin reported to PLOS Biology about the take-off seconds that crab spiders (Xysticus spp) take off for flights over a gentle breeze by first feeling the wind and then spinning dozens of nano fibers up to seven meters.

Many types of spiders are involved in balloons to wander away from the birthplace, to find food or mating and to find new sites for colonization. Moonsung Cho and colleagues at the Technische Universit├Ąt in Berlin gave first glimpse into the "bubbling" behavior that allowed certain spiders to travel in the wind for hundreds of kilometers.

Penelitian Crab spider measure the wind before rolling balloons for flight

"The pre-flight behavior suggests crab spiders are evaluating meteorological conditions before takeoff. Balloons may not be just a random launch into the wind, but those that occur when conditions support most productive travel," Cho said.

Crab spiders (Xysticus spp.) Measuring about 5 mm and weighing 25 milligrams actively evaluating the wind condition by repeatedly raising one or both front legs and directing to the wind direction. At wind speeds below 3.0 m/sec (7 mph) and relatively mild current flows, the spider spewed an average 3 meters long silk as a parachute to glide.

A single spider releases up to 60 fibers as thin as 200 nanometers. These fibers are different from the drag lines. Cho and colleagues report the spider actively senses wind characteristics and launches when wind speed and updraft are in maximum strength for the possibility of a productive flight.

Journal : Moonsung Cho et al. An observational study of ballooning in large spiders: Nanoscale multifibers enable large spiders’ soaring flight, PLOS Biology, June 14, 2018, DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.2004405