Friday, 9 March 2012

Spiders take over flood-affected Wagga


Spiders are on the move in the wake of flooding rains covering most of New South Wales, the ABC reports.

Millions of spiders around Wagga Wagga are heading for higher ground.

Residents taking refuge from flood and spider in the Red Steer pub say you cannot walk down the road without swarms of tiny brown spiders crawling up your legs, and in their escape they have left entire paddocks and trees swathed in silver silk.

Dennis Lane, who lives at Cartwrights Hill in north-east Wagga, says the spectacle has attracted many visitors to the area to take photos.

"It's all silver. It's like snow in the trees. With the wet it's all silk," he said.

"Just down the bottom of the hill from my place, the trees are covered in them. They're just all walking out of the water down the road."

According to spider expert Graham Milledge, the spiders are most likely harmless.

Mr Milledge is collection manager in arachnology at the Australian Museum.

He says the spiders look like wolf spiders.

"It's not possible to say precisely what they are unless we can get some samples and examine them," he said.

"After seeing the photos, they look to me like they might be juvenile wolf spiders.

One way spiders can move around is by what they call ballooning, so they let out lengths of silk in the hope that the wind will catch them and carry them away to another place.

"Wolf spiders are a very common type of spider in open country like that. They're ground-dwelling spiders."

Mr Milledge says the silky layer the spiders are leaving across parts of Wagga Wagga is a product of "ballooning".

"One way spiders can move around is by what they call ballooning, so they let out lengths of silk in the hope that the wind will catch them and carry them away to another place," he said.

"But if there's not enough wind around, what happens is they don't get very far and they all end up in the same place. They'll keep trying and that's why you'll get all that silk."



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