Charlotte’s Non-Organic Web

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 22 2012 @ 5:10pm


Bora Zivkovic revisits the work of zoologist H. M. Peters, who, back in 1948, studied the webs of drugged-up spiders:

Different drugs had different effects on the shapes of the web. In high doses, almost every drug resulted in highly irregular webs. But at carefully chosen lower doses, there were some interesting differences. For example, under the influence of caffeine, the webs were vertically shorter but horizontally wider, as spiders made larger angles between the radial spokes of the web. The most striking was the effect of LSD-25. Yes, LSD. This is the only drug which resulted in webs being more carefully weaved and more perfect than the controls.

How this research is used in agriculture today:

Placing a few spiders in a field or orchard overnight and taking a look at the webs in the morning can tell the researcher if there are pesticides there, and perhaps which class of pesticide if not the exact kind.

(Image by NASA from Wikimedia Commons)