Orb-Weaver Spiders Stuff A Treatment Plant With A 4-Acre Web

Greene et al., 2010/ Entomological Society of America.

If one lonesome spider taking a spidey-nap in your bathtub freaks you the heck out, count your lucky stars you’re not the unfortunate discoverer of this nightmare-inducing scenario: 107 million spiders, living in a community that managed to spin a phenomenal web that covered some 4 acres of a building. 

Back in 2009, workers at the Baltimore Wastewater Treatment Plant called for help with this “extreme spider” infestation, as it had become so bad that the webs had even managed to pull 8-foot long light fixtures out of place. But of course entomologists and arachnologists couldn’t wait to dive in and find out more before the web was removed.

Entomological Society of America/Greene et al., 2010

The scientists found the bizarre situation so incredible that it eventually warranted publication in the journal American Entomologist.

As reported by the team, over 95% of the space in some parts of the plant was completely filled with web. It was so dense that some regions contained estimated densities of 35, 176 spiders per cubic meter, an estimate they described as “conservative.” The spiders responsible for the gargantuan web were orb-weavers.

The author’s write: “In places where the plant workers had swept aside the webbing to access equipment, the silk lay piled on the floor in rope-like clumps as thick as a fire hose.” *Shudders*. They note that the aggregation is far greater in magnitude than anything previously recorded for this type of spider. “The visual impact of the spectacle as nothing less than astonishing,” they added.

Wired.com poses an important question: do you measure spiders in Metric S*!tTons? Or in Imperial S*!tLoads?

Either way, it’s left my skin crawling. 

[Hat-tip: Wired.com]

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