Millions of spiders fleeing flooded farmland in Hikurangi, New Zealand, have swarmed a 75 meter stretch of Jordan Valley Road, decorating the ground and trees with ghost-like silky webs.
According to Hikurangi Swamp farmer Ben Smith, this eye catching phenomenon occurs annually as the lands flood during late autumn and lasts around 2-3 weeks. “With 5600ha under water, there’s nowhere else for the spiders to go,” Mr Smith told The Northern Advocate. He said that the spiders begin to disperse as the floodwaters recede.
Northern Regional Council biosecurity officer Ross Johnson told the Northern Advocate that baby money spiders were the likely culprits. During late autumn and early winter, these spiderlings will apparently each produce a long single thread of silk. “It’s an attempt by the spiders to be picked up by the thermals and light winds, allowing them to be transported long distances in a clever natural process called ballooning,” he added.
Mr Johnson said that he had seen this before, witnessing paddocks, trees and tractors draped in a fine blanket of silk. He also added that the spiders are able to make numerous different types of silk and that this ballooning silk is different to the silk normally used to build webs.
Check out this video recorded from the site:
Images in photo gallery: credit John Stone, via Northern Advocate.