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  #1  
Old 03-13-2009, 09:01 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Do spider webs have any nutritional value for humans

Could you get any nutritional value out of eating spider webs, if you needed food. Only the web is being asked about no detritus stuck to it.
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  #2  
Old 03-13-2009, 10:09 AM
spingears spingears is offline
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Nutritional value or not, it would take thousands of spiders working full time to produce any significant amount of web filament to be useful.

Most likely more silk filaments. You could try eating a silk scarf to see how it tastes.
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  #3  
Old 03-13-2009, 10:33 AM
Revtim Revtim is online now
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According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_silk it's a protein.
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:52 AM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revtim View Post
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_silk it's a protein.
But that doesn't mean it's digestible, does it? I don't think we can digest, uh, silkworm silk.
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Old 03-13-2009, 10:56 AM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Even if you could digest it, there is so little stuff there that I doubt you would be able to extract anything of consequence. Unless you can gather a significant amount of webs, but I'm not sure how feasible it would be to gather even an ounce of the stuff.
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Old 03-13-2009, 11:04 AM
Squink Squink is offline
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Digestive proteases will likely chop spider silk up into absorbable pieces, but like pork rinds, silk has a very high glycine conten (table II).
Consequently, you'll not get much nutritional goodness out of silk.
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  #7  
Old 03-13-2009, 11:24 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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I was thinking more of in the case of starvation and the choice is spiderweb or nothing will it provide any benefit for keeping you alive. Think of an old cave or building festooned with spiderwebs if you must as I'm not concerned about how hard it is to gather. I know it's a protein, but I didn't think that necessarily made it something we could digest. Understanding the chemistry behind the digestion is beyond what I can think through any longer. Does anybody have anything to add to Squink's statement?
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  #8  
Old 03-13-2009, 11:29 AM
BrandonR BrandonR is offline
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Seems like you'd get better nutritional value mooching off the spider's hard work and eating whatever the web catches rather than eat the web itself.
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  #9  
Old 03-13-2009, 11:42 AM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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You know the silk has to be only a small percentage of a spider's caloric value, since most spiders build and destroy their web frequently. The spiders themselves can digest the web, so they recycle those calories mostly. You can find an abstract here http://www.springerlink.com/content/p542477132g603v7/ that says:
Quote:
The energy value of spider silk was estimated by means of a bomb calorimeter and found to be 17,435 J g-1. The energy content of the silk of a single adult's web is 1.16 J, giving energy cost of web production of 1.88 J at all temperatures.
Since 1 kcal (a dietary calorie) is 4184 J, you'd have to eat more than 3600 of that spider's webs to get even a single calorie out of it. (Note that the 17435 J/g result is equivalent to pure protein/sugar, which is 4 calories to the gram). The spider itself, at 4 grams, would yield less than 20 calories.
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Old 03-13-2009, 12:10 PM
scr4 scr4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandonR View Post
Seems like you'd get better nutritional value mooching off the spider's hard work and eating whatever the web catches rather than eat the web itself.
Or just eat the spider...
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  #11  
Old 03-13-2009, 01:06 PM
Amazon Floozy Goddess Amazon Floozy Goddess is offline
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Originally Posted by Revtim View Post
According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_silk it's a protein.
This explains why my cat loves to eat them (usually with spider included).
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  #12  
Old 03-13-2009, 01:26 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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It's threads like these that keep me here. Not only that the question gets answered, but that it gets asked in the first place.
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  #13  
Old 03-14-2009, 08:26 AM
spingears spingears is offline
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Do spider webs have any nutritional value for humans

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
It's threads like these that keep me here. Not only that the question gets answered, but that it gets asked in the first place.
Thanks Annie-Xma. You have put a whole new perspective on D. A. thread such as this one!

Thanks dracoi for some hard data on the subject.
Wouldn't a 4 gm spider be a bit large on average?
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  #14  
Old 03-14-2009, 09:31 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Thanks for participating so far. I'm still interested in more information if you have it.
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  #15  
Old 03-14-2009, 09:54 AM
horsetech horsetech is offline
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Originally Posted by Amazon Floozy Goddess View Post
This explains why my cat loves to eat them (usually with spider included).
Nah, the real treat is the spider. The web is just floss.
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  #16  
Old 03-14-2009, 10:52 AM
dracoi dracoi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spingears View Post
Thanks dracoi for some hard data on the subject.
Wouldn't a 4 gm spider be a bit large on average?
4 g is what the abstract mentioned for the spider that produced the webs they were studying. It is probably on the larger size, but garden spiders and orb spiders both get pretty substantial.

I'll never forget mistaking a large garden spider for an acorn when I was a kid. I'm not particularly afraid of spiders, but I sure don't expect acorns to suddenly unfold their legs when I pick them up!
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