Gippsland is making headlines today after a stunning display of spiderwebs carpets over Victoria’s eastern region.
Millions of spiders have spread their figurative wings in a bid to escape waterlogged nests after violent floods drench their homeland southeast of Victoria.
These carefully spun webs stretch for kilometres in wetlands across South Gippsland, as their creators take refuge in trees and plants.
They’re difficult to see in video, but these webs are filled with thousands of spiders.
The phenomenon is known as the Gossamer effect, or ‘ballooning’ more colloquially.
Basically, it’s a survival instinct used by ground-dwelling spiders to get away from floodwater after heavy rain has soaked up much of the area.
Is it just me or does it feel like there’s a biblical plague of Daddy Long Legs at the moment?!
— Tim Downie (@TimDownie1) June 15, 2021
It also functions as a feeding method: spiders need to disperse over a greater area to feed more extensively and prevent competition over food. So, they send up a thread and carry themselves away with the wind.
Talk about ‘gone with the wind’. Weeeee!
Ken Walker, a senior insects curator at Museums Victoria, is a big fan of the process.
“To me, it’s absolutely beautiful. A silken blanket that undulates throughout vegetation.”
“Ground dwelling spiders need to get off the ground very quickly. The silk snakes up and catches onto vegetation, and they can escape.”
Parts of #Gippsland are covered in #spider web??!! The little black dots are spiders. There is web as far as the eye can see. This is near Longford #Victoria thanks Carolyn Crossley for the video pic.twitter.com/wcAOGU9ZTu
— 𝙼𝚒𝚖 𝙷𝚘𝚘𝚔 (@mim_cook) June 15, 2021
“So what they do is they release this silk up and they act like snag wires.. they snag the vegetation up above and then they can quickly climb up and get out of the way.”
“It also shows the literally tens of thousands, if not millions, of spiders at ground level. Without spiders, we’d have plagues of insects.”
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the spiders then, y’all.
This phenomenon is extra special too, because it only happens in rural areas.
You see, drainage in urban areas means that spiders don’t actually have to flee all at once. That’s one thing we can thank modern technology for.
We’ve got your back, spiders!