Normally, Australian wolf spiders are solitary creatures that live in dens underground, where humans rarely see them. Not so when their homes get inundated by floodwaters, as has happened in the past week. In the city of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, the 8,000+ human residents have been evacuated due to the flooding, and thousands of spiders have moved in.
The spiders have been doing something called “ballooning” to escape the waters. This basically means they throw up a strand of silk and ride the wind until they land on something above the waters. Because the wind only blows in one direction, the spiders tend to land in the same places and blanket their sanctuary in webs. Researchers have taken to the air themselves in a hot air balloon to hunt for them and document the behavior.
While local residents are taking the invasion in stride (the picture of a dog walking across a field covered in webs is downright creepy), they’ve been assured by spider experts around the country that when the flood waters recede, the spiders will return to their normal underground habitats.
In the meantime, they are actually helping out. All those webs they’re spinning are for catching the overabundance of mosquitoes and other winged insects that have hatched out due to the floodwaters. How cool is that? Mother Earth does not let things get out of balance if you leave her alone.
But I think I’ll hold off on visiting Wagga Wagga. I’ve been known to run screaming out of a room because I turned around and there was a spider hanging from the ceiling in front of my nose… the really embarrassing part was I was half naked at the time!