Can you eat spider webs?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat spider webs?” and discuss what are the risks of ingesting a spider web.

Can you eat spider webs?

Yes, you can eat spider webs. However, you should not eat spider webs, as studies showed that proteins of spider silk are only partially digested by human proteolytic enzymes (4). In addition, they may be toxic. 

Why should you not eat spider webs?

You should not eat spider webs because, although they are composed of amino acids, they cannot be fully digested by the human enzymes. As a result, they will not provide nutrients or energy to the body.

In addition, you should not destroy spider webs in order to eat them. It is generally recognized that spiders play an important role as stabilizing agents and/or regulators of insect populations in agroecosystems, forest ecosystems and other terrestrial ecosystems (5). 

Destroying spider webs can reduce the number of spiders in an area, which may allow the insect population to increase, potentially leading to ecological imbalances.

Additionally, some species of spiders are endangered or threatened, and destroying their webs can contribute to the loss of these species.

What are spider webs made of?

Spider webs are made of a primary building block of silk proteins consisting of non-essential amino acids including Glycine and Alanine. Some other heavier amino acids present in silk proteins are arginine, serine, leucine, glutamine and tyrosine (1). 

Spider silk possesses remarkable mechanical properties. It is a unique blend of high tensile strength and extensibility. It is the hardest material known to-date because of its maximum load bearing ability and elasticity. Some spider silk types can extend to 140% of their original length without breaking (1).

Can you be intoxicated by ingesting a spider web?

Yes, depending on the quantity of spider webs ingested, you can be intoxicated by them. According to studies, very high doses of soluble spider silk show some toxicity in vitro (3).

Spider silk proteins exhibited cytotoxic effects in many studies and would need purifying processes in order to be used in medical or pharmaceutical applications (3).

What are other possible health risks by ingesting a spider web?

Another possible health risk by ingesting a spider web is to have a microbial infection. Spider webs can carry airborne microorganisms, as they are able to attach to the spider web proteins. 

The atmosphere is filled with a myriad of bacteria and fungi species that, together with pollutants and through the air movement and diffusion, find their place in the surroundings, as well as on spider webs. Spider webs have been studied to be used as passive bioaerosol collectors, in order to explore and characterize airborne microorganisms of a certain area (6).

Spider silks can carry pathogenic microorganisms that, being ingested, can cause infections to the host. Airborne come from soil, dust feed, litter and from the birds themselves, and may include potential pathogenic bacteria such as enterococci, staphylococci and Enterobacteriaceae, among others (7). Once ingested, pathogenic bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses.

Foodborne illness occurs when a pathogen is ingested with food and establishes itself (and usually multiplies) in the human host, or when a toxigenic pathogens establishes itself in a food product and produces a toxin, which is then ingested by the human host (8).

Symptoms of foodborne illnesses include abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea, vomiting, fever, muscular pain, headache and others.


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat spider webs?” and we discussed what are the risks of ingesting a spider web.


  1. Tahir, Hafiz Muhammad, et al. Spider silk: An excellent biomaterial for medical science and industry. Punjab Univ J Zool, 2017, 32, 143-154.
  2. Wang, C. Spiders of medical importance.The State University of New Jersey. 
  3. Dams‐Kozlowska, Hanna, et al. Purification and cytotoxicity of tag‐free bioengineered spider silk proteins. J Biomed Mat Res A, 2013, 101, 456-464.  
  4. Withanage, Sinith, et al. Native spider silk-based antimicrobial hydrogels for biomedical applications. Polymers, 2021, 13, 1796.
  5. Nyffeler, Martin. Field studies on the ecological role of the spiders as insect predators in agroecosystems (abandoned grassland, meadows, and cereal fields). Diss. ETH Zurich, 1982.
  6. Mattei, Daniel I., et al. The use of spider webs as passive bioaerosol collectors. Atmospheric Propagation VI. Vol. 7324. SPIE, 2009.
  7. Sanz, Susana, et al. Airborne dissemination of bacteria (Enterococci, Staphylococci and Enterobacteriaceae) in a modern broiler farm and its environment. Animals, 2021, 11, 1783.
  8. Bintsis, Thomas. Foodborne pathogens. AIMS microbiol, 2017, 3, 529.

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