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Nasty 'Spider Rain' Cloaks Australian Countryside


"The whole place was covered in these little black spiderlings."

Something happened in part of Australia that would be an arachnophobe's nightmare.

Millions of spiders rained down in the Southern Tablelands area, cloaking the landscape in a webby mass.

"The whole place was covered in these little black spiderlings and when I looked up at the sun it was like this tunnel of webs going up for a couple of hundred meters into the sky," Ian Watson of Goulburn told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Though Watson said it was beautiful in its own way, "at the same time I was annoyed because ... you couldn't go out without getting spider webs on you. And I've got a beard as well, so they kept getting in my beard," he told the newspaper.

Martyn Robinson with the Australian Museum explained that the "ballooning" technique used by the baby spiders is a mode of travel.

"They can literally travel for kilometres … which is why every continent has spiders. Even in Antarctica they regularly turn up but just die," he told the Sydney Morning Herald of the "Angel Hair" event.

Todd Blackledge, a biology professor at Ohio's University of Akron, told LiveScience that conditions in Australia must have been just right to cause the mass migration event. The Morning Herald also noted that weather, such as flooding, can trigger ballooning activity in spiders as well.

"In these kinds of events [spider rains], what's thought to be going on is that there's a whole cohort of spiders that's ready to do this ballooning dispersal behavior, but for whatever reason, the weather conditions haven't been optimal and allowed them to do that. But then the weather changes, and they have the proper conditions to balloon, and they all start to do it," Blackledge told Live Science.

You can see some of the ballooning in action in this video from Texas last year:

For another fascinating and somewhat creepy baby spider story out of Australia that drew some attention last month, check out this other post on TheBlaze.

(H/T: IBTimes)

Front page image via Shutterstock.

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