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Amazing Animals

What Caused Millions Of Spiders To Rain Down On Southern Australia?

Last week, the land down under witnessed a Biblical plague of falling arachnids.

Photo: Lukas Coch, EPA.
Photo: Lukas Coch, EPA.

It might sound like something from an episode of ‘Round The Twist’, the show with the greatest theme tune in television history by the way, but last week in southern Australia – millions of spiders rained down from the sky.

Needless to say, this story caused a bit of a stir. Why? Because millions of spiders falling from the sky isn’t part of the normal weather forecast, not even in Australia. Now that the dust has settled on this story a bit, let’s take a minute to separate the fact from the fiction and find out what actually happened.

“…spiders falling from the sky isn’t part of the normal weather forecast, not even in Australia.”

Many news reports have called the spiders babies. Not only is calling someone else a “baby” a cheap and immature playground tactic, it also happens to be hugely inaccurate in this particular story.

According to Robb Bennett, a research associate in entomology at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, the spiders are actually just “very, very small” adults called money spiders or sheet-web weavers.

If the term ‘money spiders’ didn’t immediately bring to mind hairy arachnids surrounded by cocaine and hookers, you’re not doing it right.

Photo: Eryk Bagshaw.
Photo: Eryk Bagshaw.

Of course, these flying spiders weren’t formed in spider-forming rain clouds. There’s no such thing as spider-forming rain clouds, you’ll be pleased to hear. So, how did they get up into the sky and end up blanketing the countryside of the Southern Tablelands region?

Bennett, that man again, said it best when he said “It’s a reverse parachute effect – they’re going from the ground into the air.” He added that watching the spiders do this was “awe-inspiring.” By “awe-inspiring”, we can only presume that what he meant to say was “shit-your-pants-terrifying.”

Photo: YouTube.
Photo: YouTube.

Nobody knows for sure what drives the spiders to build their nightmarish balloons, and take to the skies. However, local resident Keith Basterfield recently had this to say about the phenomenon: “They fly through the sky and then we see these falls of spiderwebs, and it looks as if it’s snowing.”

Probably not what Bing Crosby had in mind when he was dreaming of a white Christmas, but that’s the way the spider-infused-cookie crumbles.

Most of these flying-spiders will die during their journey, eaten by predators or killed in turbulent weather conditions. Fortunately for the spiders, and perhaps less fortunately for the people down below, only a small amount of them need to survive in order for them to colonise their new home.

Photo: news.com.au.
Photo: news.com.au.

If you’re sitting there, wiping nervous sweat from your brow, and thinking “Thank god this kind of weird-shit only happens in Australia,” we’ve got to drop some bad news on your head.

These spider-ballooning events have been known to happen in the Northern Hemisphere, including the United States and the United Kingdom. We’re not saying that it’s time to panic but, in light of this, we’ll be walking home from work with multiple umbrellas fanned out above our heads…just in case.

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