Most lines in the sheets of four linyphiid species bore numerous small droplets. Droplet-bearing lines of Linyphia simplicata (F. O. Pickard-Cambridge, 1902) and Neriene coosa (Gertsch, 1951) adhered weakly to smooth, dry surfaces, contradicting previous statements that such lines in linyphiid webs are not sticky. Droplets at the intersections of lines tended to be larger than nearby droplets on the same lines, and were more widely separated from adjacent droplets than were other, nearby droplets on the same lines. A self-assembly hypothesis to explain these findings, that larger droplets accumulated at intersections as a result of lines in the sheet scraping against each other, was supported by confirming that larger intersection droplets were more widely separated from adjacent droplets than were smaller intersection droplets. These observations suggest a new, dynamic view of linyphiid sheet webs, in which the distribution of sticky material is adjusted advantageously immediately after lines are produced, due to the upward dabbing movements of the spider's abdomen that press the sheet lines against each other during sheet construction, and perhaps also to other movements of newly laid lines against each other. Larger droplets maybe advantageous in binding lines together, and in adhering to prey.
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Vol. 18 • No. 8