Silk worms seem to have cornered a market. Is there any potential commercial use for spider's webs?
Dutch scientists have genetically engineered goats so that the milk they produce contains the proteins found in spider silk. The silk can then be spun from the milk (I absolutely promise I am not making this up), and woven into a fabric that can be blended with human skin to render it bulletproof. The bulletproof skin bit is still under development, but the spider-silk producing goats are real and alive.
In the 1960s I worked for a company making microscopes. We had staff who had worked for the Ross company making telescopes and rangefinders, and from the Vickers factory making all sorts of optical equipment. These people said that gossamer was used to make cross-hairs in the eyepieces of all their products. They also said the highlight of the apprentices' year was the annual spider hunt to collect the gossamer. They may have been pulling my leg – I'm sure your correspondents will let me know.
Simon Hurdley, Bridport, Dorset
Spiders' webs have been used in the past to seal wounds and burns – I don't know if they were any good for it, though.