The only spider I ever loved

You could almost hear the shivers when people picked up their papers Wednesday and saw this bad girl on the cover.

Record photo by Clifford Oto

But this spider’s role is really quite interesting, once you get over the ick factor.

Here’s my story about UOP Professor Craig Vierra’s efforts to replicate black widow silk in a laboratory setting. And in the clip below, he explains all this to a TedXSanJoaquin audience at UOP.

The best part of my interview with Vierra? He confirmed, once and for all, that the only spider I have ever loved — E.B. White’s Charlotte — was not a venemous black widow.

See, Charlotte was what’s known as an “orb-weaver.” She built two-dimensional “wheel” webs (and, of course, wrote headlines in them like some kind of eight-legged copy editor):

Benevolent Charlotte, and her "wheel" web

Compare Charlotte’s sparkling handiwork to the thick and chaotic three-dimensional web of a black widow:

A malevolent widow and her tangled, complex web -- from

Truth be told, we already knew Charlotte was a harmless barn spider — her full name is Charlotte A. Cavatica, apparently alluding to the barn spider’s scientific name, Araneus cavaticus. Nevertheless, it’s reassuring that there is even more evidence of her innocence. This clip is for crying, not shivering:

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Latest Tweets