Hordes of wolf spiders seeking to avoid rising flood waters in eastern Australia headed inland, casting webs over large portions of farmland, Reuters reports.
The above video depicts scenes of Wagga Wagga, in the southeastern part of the country, swathed in webs and teeming with spiders. More than 8,000 Wagga Wagga residents were forced to evacuate their homes Tuesday, driven out by the rising waters of the Murrumbidgee River.
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Experts said the spiders may be spinning the sticky webs to survive the inundation. This behavior is known as ballooning and is common among spiders that have fled from floods, according to Australian Museum’s entomology collections manager Graham Milledge. In such widespread wet weather, the country’s spider population has boomed.
As the flood waters begin to recede, the spiders are expected to return to their natural underground habitats. But during their temporary stay above ground, the arachnids have eaten mosquitoes and other pesky insects whose populations have also boomed amid the moisture. In that sense, some consider the spiders to be doing residents a favor.
The post-flood ballooning phenomenon also occurred in Pakistan last April. Captured in the photo below are thousands of spiders and other insects clustered high in a tree to avoid the waters.