As summer begins to creep around the corner in the United States, there are a few things people wouldn't mind raining down on them. Some might prefer it to rain money, men or generous curves on final exams. Out of all the things a person might not want to rain down, spiders are probably pretty high on that list.
For residents in Goulburn, Australia, however, it seems that they have gotten into quite the webby situation.
Earlier this month, Southern Tablelands residents found their homes covered by the invasion of spiders. From the houses to the paddocks, everything was covered by the tunnels of webs of little spiders, giving the area the ominous look of abandonment while being creepily fascinating.
This type of spider activity is not uncommon, however. Australian Museum Naturalist Martyn Robinson explained that this rain of spiders is probably the result of two possible spider migration techniques.
One such technique is "ballooning" which is common with baby spiders to climb to the top of vegetation and release a stream of silk into the breeze to allow the spider to move.
Robinson explains that spiders can be seen as high as 3 kilometers off the ground via ballooning. "They can literally travel for kilometers, which is why every continent has spiders," Robinson explained. "That's also why the first land animals to arrive on new islands formed by volcanic activity are usually spiders."
The other technique involves gossamer, also known as angel hair, which is a type non-adhesive silk that spiders can produce that gets caught in trees and plants. This migration technique could occur simultaneously as ballooning, but is most common after heavy rain and/or flooding. The spiders would use gossamer to catch onto higher levels to avoid drowning as well as search for new homes.
"Everywhere a spider goes it leaves a trail of silk, so if they use somebody else's silk line, they put their silk line over that," Robinson said.
Goulburn resident Ian Watson was conflicted about the webbing that has taken over his home. Despite seeing some beauty to the spider take over, Watson still sees the entire situation as slightly annoying as well. "You couldn't go out without getting spider webs on you," Watson said. "And I've got a beard as well, so they kept getting in my beard."
On the bright side for residents like Watson, once the weather warms up, the spiders should disperse and their homes will no longer look like a conveniently creepy backdrop for a horror movie.
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