The New International Encyclopædia/Gossamer

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GOSSAMER (ME. gossomer, gosesomer, goose-summer, from gos, goose + somer, summer; so called on account of the downy appearance, and the time of coming). A light filamentous substance, which often fills the atmosphere to a remarkable degree during fine weather in autumn, or is spread over the ground, stretching from leaf to leaf and from plant to plant, loaded with dewdrops, which glisten and sparkle in the sunshine. It is produced by small spiders of many species, and is said to be produced by young and not by mature spiders, a circumstance which, if placed beyond doubt, would help to account for its appearance at a particular season of the year. The threads of gossamer are so delicate that a single one cannot be seen unless the sun shines on it; but being driven about by the wind, they are often beaten together into thicker threads and flakes. They are often to be felt on the face when they are scarcely visible. The spiders which produce these threads shoot them out from their spinnerets, a viscid fluid being ejected with great force, which becomes a thread; sometimes several such threads are produced at once in a radiating form, and these, being caught by the ascending current of heated air, are borne up, and the spider along with them. See Spider.