From Zaheer Baber, "Spider silk," The Times Literary Supplement (September 12, 2014), p. 5:
"Among the economically influenced debates of this [18th century] period was a natural historian's claim that silk produced from spiders was more durable and cheaper to produce than conventional silk. At the Montepellier academy, stockings and mittens from spider silk were dramatically circulated in an effort to garner scientific support for the new silk. To evaluate this particular claim, Réaumur painstakingly raised many spiders, observing their life cycles and and feeding habits in his home. He tested the strength of the fibres obtained from them and calculated the costs associated with raising them before concluding that, compared to the product obtained from silkworms, the mass production of spider silk was not economically viable."