Asa Wright Nature Centre Board Member, Raymond Mendez, delivers a fascinating insight into Embiids, or Webspinners – often found at the Asa Wright Nature Centre in Trinidad.
“I first became aware of Embiids or Webspinners in Trinidad, at the Asa Wright Nature Centre, where tree trunks are often covered with their homes. The top webs make a protective covering for the silk tunnels that the adults run, breed, and feed under. A web spinner is actually what Spider-Man should have been!
They shoot silk from their front legs, just like he does in the movies. The females are wingless and primitively social in that they care for their young; the young live in the mother’s web system until they are almost adults.”
“The male Embiids at the Asa Wright Nature Centre, or Webspinners are a different story. They have wings, fly, and search out the females’ webs. They are small, dark individuals reminiscent of termites. When they land on the web, they have to make an opening and dig into the system at high speed. Looking a lot like termites during mating flights, the little fellows are prone to becoming someone’s meal. The most fascinating part of his adaptations is the ability (remember he has to catch the female to mate) to run as fast backwards as forwards. However, his wings might catch in the web and the female would get away. To compensate, his wings are hinged in the middle, and he can fold them over his head so they don’t slow him down. If he runs forward they just flip back.”