These are pretty scary times for Australians suffering from arachnophobia, as millions and millions of small spiders have covered everything from once green planes to tall trees in an eerie white silky web. The entire thing looks unearthly and bizarre, but scientists say there is no cause to get overly alarmed.
The scientific process that lays behind this white sticky predicament is called ballooning. Specialists describe it as the process of spiders position themselves on a high area and start releasing silk in an upward direction, upon which they climb down fast, thus leaving a thread of silk in the place they land.
They say that this happens on a regular basis and that there is nothing uncommon about it. The reason why it usually goes unnoticed is the fact that only few spiders do this at the same time, thus the white threads are not something particularly noticeable.
Furthermore, it is exactly because such a massive amount of spiders have decided to perform this ballooning process all at the same time, that fields look as they do right now.
“In these kinds of events [spider rains], what’s thought to be going on is that there’s a whole cohort of spiders that’s ready to do this ballooning dispersal behavior, but for whatever reason, the weather conditions haven’t been optimal and allowed them to do that.” said Professor Todd Blackledge of the University of Akron from Ohio.
He added that when the accurate climatic conditions are met, all the spiders that had been waiting start ballooning together and situations such as the current one in Goulburn are caused.
As people are getting more and more concerned that they might get bitten by the spiders, quite a serious panic reigned over the city of Goulburn. Professor Blackledge explains that it is highly unlikely that many of the spiders present are of venomous species.
He said that regardless of the fact that maybe there are some venomous spiders present there, it is most probable that they are young-lings and that they are harmless to people since they cannot bite at that point in their development.
There is however one cause of concern for Goulburn, but it is not for the health of its population, but for their crops and vegetation. Since there is such a thick web covering their fields and trees, the plants’ ability to feed is gravely impaired, as they do not have sufficient access to light. However, the webs will be extremely difficult to remove entirely, as parts of them will remain stuck to plants, somewhat like bubblegum remains stuck to surfaces.
A comprehensive plan will be finalized by authorities, with the assistance of scientists that specialize in arachnid behavior and biology, so that the negative effects of this massive spider migration be kept to a minimum. The webs will most likely be cleaned, so as to improve the condition of the crops, and step by step, Goulburn will be free of the sticky white substance that covers it and will be able to regain its former appearance.
Image Source: imgur