NASA proposed that drugging spiders and examining their webs could be a cost-effective method of testing for toxicity. Such tests were becoming increasingly unpopular (and illegal) when performed on "higher" animals. They recruited Araneus diadematus, a common house spider, for the task, and found that administering more toxic chemicals prompted the spiders to weave fewer complete web cells. This experiment was reminiscent of similar ones from the mid 1900s, in which Peter Witt gave spiders drugs such as peyote, LSD, and marijuana to observe their effects on web-making.
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Key Facts In This Video
Spider drug studies began as an attempt to get the spiders to spin their webs at different times. 00:14
In 1948, Peter Witt gave spiders drugs such as marijuana, peyote, and morphine. 00:27
In 1995, NASA administered different drugs to spiders to see if abnormalities in their webs reflected the drugs' toxicity levels. 00:51