Massive spider webs engulf Gippsland in Australia

Massive spider webs engulf Gippsland in Australia

Millions of spiders and cobwebs

  • An arachnophobe’s (a person who is afraid of spiders) worst nightmare.
  • Residents of the Gippsland in the eastern Australian state of Victoria were greeted with layers of huge alien-looking spider webs with huge areas draped in them. They were hit by severe flooding recently after days of intense rainfall and have suffered major damage to property.
  • Observers have called the webbing a single sheet crawling with small spiders, that rise or roll with the action of wind. Such wave sightings are common after floods.
  • The seasons in the Northern Hemisphere are the opposite of those in the Southern Hemisphere. This means that in countries like Argentina and Australia, winter begins in June.
  • Wintertime in Victoria is when they get most of their rains.
  • Millions of spiders, that were there on the ground all the time had come up and spun their webs for protection from the rising water.
  • Since they live under leaves or vegetation we don’t usually see them. These animals spend their entire living on the ground and only move to higher ground when forced to.

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Specialized webs and ballooning

  • Ground-dwelling spiders Spiders can spin a wide range of different silks and one that is very thin is used that flies away with the breeze. This is needed when the spider wants to get off the ground very quickly. This is then thrown up, catches the wind, and latches on top of the available height.
  • Since the silk is lighter than air it hooks on to the top and the spider then quickly climbs up. This survival tactic phenomenon is called ballooning or the gossamer effect. A Gossamer is something fine and delicate — like a spider web
  • The Australian Museum’s website says that the process of ballooning involves spiders “ascending to a high point on foliage and letting out fine silk lines that catch the breeze and eventually gain enough lift to waft the spider up and away.”
  • Each spider throws only a single thread and each line of silk is a different animal. Lakhs of spiders did this at the same time.
  • When a huge number of spiders all do this at once, they end up hooking on to each other and can blanket the countryside. Though not visible in the photos there are actually millions of spiders all over

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Vagrant hunters

  • Ballooning is caused by a spider species called vagrant hunters also called sheet web spiders. They live on the ground and do not build a web. They do not create webs after the flood.
  • Other than the red and black series, the rest are not dangerous to humans. Even bites from the red and black ones can cause minor irritation. None belong to any of the highly venomous species
  • Gippsland is a region in southeastern Australia, extending from Melbourne’s eastern suburbs to the New South Wales border, and covers beaches, farmland, mountains, and lakes.