Spiders on drugs

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Drug-test spiders weave their way home

By Roger Highfield, Science Editor, The Electronic Telegraph

A SPIDER'S skill at spinning its web is so obviously affected when it is under the influence of drugs that Nasa scientists believe the creature could help them to test the effects of chemicals.

Different drugs alter the architecture of the web spun by a house spider in various ways, according to research reported today in New Scientist.

Spiders on marijuana are too laid back to finish the job, while those dosed with the sedative chloral hydrate drop off before they can lay down more than a few silky filaments. On an "upper", such as the amphetamine benzedrine, the spider demonstrates great gusto but not much planning, leaving large holes in the structure. Caffeine jitters turn webs into a haphazard affair.

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