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EXPLAINED: Spider invasion part of strange phenomenon

A NEST of spiders is the last thing Denise Torkington wanted in her Pialba backyard.

For about a week the local mum has observed a spider web grow across her lawn, despite her husband's efforts to stop it.

Denise has considered getting a pest control specialist in to rid her yard of the spiders, which a spider expert believes to be either baby wolf spiders or water spiders.

The spider web covering a huge patch of Pialba backyard.
The spider web covering a huge patch of Pialba backyard. Contributed



Queensland Museum's arachnid expert Robert Raven says the huge web is a natural phenomenon used by spiderlings to disperse into the air and migrate to a new location.



"The phenomenon is called ballooning and consists of the spider pulling a thread of silk, liquid when formed but forming a strand under pressure, out of their spinnerets," the senior curator of Arachnology said.



"Eventually, the air's pull on the silk becomes strong and the spider must hold onto the leaf or grass as the spider allows the drag to draw out more and more silk, making the strand longer and longer.

"The silk is very light and easily lifted in the warm updrafts that form in the morning.

"Once enough silk is out and the drag on it strong the spider releases its hold on the plant and floats skyward.

"By this means, spiders can move thousands of kilometres and have been reported as high as the stratosphere."

Denise was told the spiders would probably "balloon" away from her backyard in coming days, so she had decided to give them the chance to do just that.

However Denise doubts she will be spending much time in the backyard until then.

Earlier in the week, Denise's husband Sean kicked the web away, but it came back even bigger.

Denise was told the spiders would keep rebuilding the web if it was destroyed, so the planned to leave it alone.

Dr Raven said without spiders, flying biting insects like midges and mosquitoes would have open slather.
 

Topics:  editors picks hervey bay pialba spider


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