The Nightmare Is Real: It's Raining Spiders in Australia

Image Credit: Nephila edulis by dilettantiquity, Flickr // CC BY SA 2.0

Arachnophobes, grab an umbrella. In one Australian town, it’s been raining spiders.

Let that sink in: Spiders. Falling. From. The. Sky.

The phenomenon, while inspiring for any would-be sci-fi horror writers out there, is a fairly routine part of spider migration that has been observed by scientists since Darwin’s time. In Goulburn, Australia, 120 miles from Sydney, residents recently described seeingthis tunnel of webs going up for a couple of hundred meters into the sky.” The town was transformed into one big web-covered haunted house as black baby spiders fell from the air like snow.  

To migrate, spiders send out silk threads that catch the wind and lift them aloft. They don’t have any control over where they go, but can travel hundreds of miles, even landing on islands in the middle of the ocean (which might be why the eight-legged creatures can be found all over the world). A 2013 study by a University of Hawaii physicist postulated that the spiders may also harness the Earth’s electrostatic forces to fly even when there isn’t wind. 

Check out what a sky full of spiders looks like in this (admittedly shaky) video:

Ballooning is typically a seasonal behavior seen among small, young spiders, but on rare occasions larger adult spiders also cast out their silk and take off [PDF]. Such migrations are common in southeastern Australia, and have also been seen in recent years in Texas and Brazil. Nowhere in the world is safe from spider rain. 

[h/t: Treehugger]

Do You Know the Fun Terms for These Groups of Animals?

Massive Swarms of Migrating Dragonflies Are So Large They’re Popping Up on Weather Radar

emprised/iStock via Getty Images
emprised/iStock via Getty Images

What do Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio all have in common? Epic swarms of dragonflies, among other things.

WSLS-TV reports that this week, weather radar registered what might first appear to be late summer rain showers. Instead, the green blotches turned out to be swarms of dragonflies—possibly green darners, a type of dragonfly that migrates south during the fall.

Norman Johnson, a professor of entomology at The Ohio State University, told CNN that although these swarms happen occasionally, they’re definitely not a regular occurrence. He thinks the dragonflies, which usually prefer to travel alone, may form packs based on certain weather conditions. If that sounds vague, it’s because it is: Johnson said that entomologists haven’t worked out all the details when it comes to dragonfly migration. They do know that the airborne insects cover an average of eight miles per day, while some overachievers can fly as far as 86.

Based on the radar footage shared by the National Weather Service’s Cleveland Office, the dragonfly clouds seem almost menacing. But, while swarms of any insect species aren’t exactly delightful, these creatures are both harmless and surprisingly beautiful, at least up close. Anna Barnett, a resident of Jeromesville, Ohio, even told CNN that witnessing the natural phenomenon was “amazing!”

Amazing as it may be to see, it’s hard to hear news about unpredictable animal behavior without wondering if it’s related in some way to Earth’s rising temperatures. After all, climate change has already affected wasps in Alabama, polar bears in Russia, and no doubt countless other animal species around the world.

[h/t WSLW-TV]

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