Researchers claim the findings could be used to help design a new generation of super strength materials.
The study found that it is not just the remarkable strength of the silk spiders spin, but also a web’s intricate design which boosts its durability.
Its complex structure means that when a single strand of a web breaks, the overall strength of the web increases rather than weakens.
Report co-author Markus Buehler, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, said: “The real strength of the web is not the silk but how its mechanical properties change as things strain it, which is a very sleek inbuilt feature which could be used in many areas of life to contain damage to a small area.”
The creation of a typical web uses up a huge amount of a spider’s energy – so it contains a series of features which stop major repairs being needed.
Researchers found the silk itself has an ability to soften or stiffen to withstand different types of loads – unlike any other natural or man-made fibres.
In tests against three other materials made into similar webs, the spider silk was six times more resilient to damage when subjected to falling twigs or high winds.