In 1948 a German zoologist H.M. Peters was studying spiders and faced a problem. The Spiders weaved their nests between 2AM and 5AM in the morning. He questioned a friend Dr. Peter Witt, a German born Swiss pharmacologist, what they could do to get the spiders to weave webs during feasible day times.
According to Rainer Foelix, in his book “Biology of Spiders”, Dr. Witt prescribed amphetamine. Unfortunately or fortunately that didn’t work. The spiders continued to build in those early morning hours although, the drugged spider’s webs were amazingly different as compared to the sober spiders.
Finding the outcome of the experiment very interesting, Dr. Witt performed more experiments on the spiders with other drugs like LSD, mescaline, and caffeine. The forms of webs depended on which substance they were given.
“Then Witt tried mescaline, strychnine, caffeine, and others. Low-dosed caffeinated spiders produced a smaller but wider web with a normal spiral but radii at over sized angles. At higher doses, like with the other drugs, web regularity got distorted. Only with low doses of the hallucinogen LSD-25 did the spiders spin webs of greater regularity,” R. Foelix, Biology of Spiders.
They also tended to look much the same for each specific drug they were given. Because of these findings. Dr. Witt proposed that law enforcement could identify confiscated drugs in a cheaper manner than traditional chemical analysis.
Another interesting take on the web change is the increase of the spiders body weight after consuming one hundred and fifty mg/kg of psilocybin per os, 1 g/kg of mescaline per os, or a 30% increase in body weight made spiders build webs the following day with a shorter thread.
The weight increase also caused a thicker thread measured as higher nitrogen content per meter thread. This can be explained by assuming that the heavier spider has to build a thicker thread to hold its own weight while it has not enough material to build it of equal length.
Removal of weight led only after 3 and more days to a return to thread thickness and length of control webs. However, these heavier spiders repeated their web-building at a normal frequency. You can read more of the drugged spiders weight and webs.
The strange part is LSD-25 has been claimed to be a wonder drug by people, as it helped them professionally as well as spiritually to boost mind expansion.
Here’s a humorous take on the drugged spider experiment below.
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