Thursday, June 17, 2021

Spider Webbing Blankets Parts of Victoria, Australia

Heavy rains and strong winds lashed large parts of Victoria in Australia, causing flash flooding and widespread damage last week. Two people were found dead in their cars in separate floodwater incidents. 

Authorities described the storm as a catastrophe, and hundreds of homes in the state remain without power. 

But that’s not what my post is about. Rather, it is the massive spider webbing blanketing grass, shrubs, fences, signs and trees in parts of the Gippsland region – that was formed as a result of the deluge. 

“It’s just incredible, when they blow in the winds they look like waves”, traveler Jena Beatson told The Guardian. 

Residents say the gossamer-like veils appeared after days of heavy rain. In one area, a spider-web covered more than a kilometer along a road.

Experts say the veils are created by a survival tactic known as "ballooning", where spiders when threatened, throw out silk to climb to higher ground and escape. 

Dr Ken Walker, a senior insects curator from Museums Victoria explains: "Ground-dwelling spiders need to get off the ground very quickly. The silk snakes up and catches onto vegetation and they can escape".

The spiders responsible were sheetweb spiders (Scientific name: Cambridgea spp), which normally live on the ground, Professor Dieter Hochuli, an ecologist from the University of Sydney, told 7News. 

A local councilor, Carolyn Crossley said the webbing appeared as one single sheet, crawling with tiny spiders. "The fact that it didn't separate – it was like these spiders had coordinated to make this incredible landscape art installation or something", she marveled. 

Another local resident, Amanda Traeger, told the BBC her family had initially mistaken the webs for netting along the side of the road. 

"I've seen it before but nothing as much as this", she said. "It was absolutely stunning".

Nature's wondrous phenomenon is an outcome of nature's blighting calamity!

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