Technical nanofibre production is linked to high voltage, because they are typically produced by electrospinning. Spiders on the contrary have evolved a way to produce nanofibres without high voltage. These spiders are called cribellate spiders and produce nanofibres within their capture thread production. It is suggested that their nanofibres are frictionally charged when being brushed over a continuous area on the calamistrum, a comb-like structure at the metatarsus of the fourth leg. Although there are indications that electrostatic charges are involved in the formation of the threads structure, final proof is missing. We proposed three claims to validate this hypothesis: 1. The removal of any charge during or after thread production has an influence on the structure of the thread, 2. The characteristic structure of the thread can be regenerated by charging, and 3. The thread is attracted to, respectively repelled from differently charged objects. None of these three claims were proven true. Furthermore, mathematical calculations reveal that even at low charges, the calculated structural assembly of the thread does not match the observed reality. Electrostatic forces are therefore not involved in the production of cribellate capture threads.
- Received February 2, 2017.
- Accepted April 3, 2017.
- © 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd