At the end of E.B. White’s classic children’s book “Charlotte’s Web,” the spider with the title name dies and her offspring send their silk threads into the sky, taking off from the barn and leaving the pig Wilber with only three of Charlotte’s children as companions.
This arachnid experience, known as “ballooning,” is exactly what a Texas town witnessed this week, seeing the white strands floating through the air and landing on buildings and cars.
“I thought it was weird; I’d never seen it before,” Myrna Olivas told KTVT-TV. “It just landed on my head and it left again.”
Patrick Dickinson of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center told WFAA-TV the spiders are making an annual migration. After recent cool nights in North Texas, the eggs hatched and the newborn spiders spun small balloon-like webs, climbed high to catch the wind and took off.
“The wind that we are getting this time of year off of the Gulf of Mexico picks up the (silk) and the spiders are able to float from tree-to-tree, building-to-building and plant-to-plant,” Dickinson told the local news station.
Depending on the conditions of the wind, the spiders could fly for miles.
Although some people might have been disturbed by the dozens of feet of webbing, Dickinson reassured that the spiders are not harmful. The eight-legged creatures actually help keep some pesky insects at bay.
“Some people did not know what it was and were scared to go outside of their homes. Other people thought when they saw them in the trees like you’re seeing here that there was something wrong with their trees,” he told KTVT.
“They’re going to be feeding on the bad insects that we don’t want. These are the good guys,” Dickinson continued.
Watch KTVT’s report about the flying spider phenomenon: