If you’re afraid of spiders, we’re sorry in advance.
Millions of the eight-legged freaks literally rained down over a town in Australia this weekend, bringing with them giant blankets of webs that actually coated entire neighbourhoods. Naturally, residents of the Southern Tablelands region were pretty freaked out when they found their properties suddenly covered in creepy crawlers and their accompanying silky threads. Just look at the devastation:
— (@SexiiiDread) May 18, 2015
Now you’re probably wondering how something like this is even possible.
The phenomenon is known as “spider rain” or even “angel hair” in some circles (although we believe the latter is deeply unfitting). Essentially, the spiders are migrating through a process called ballooning. The arachnids climb to the top of a high object like a tree or a plant, and then use their webbing as a kind of makeshift parachute to help them glide through the sky. Spiders are apparently doing this all the time, we just don’t notice it because usually only one or two take off at once. But when millions balloon at the same time, you get spider rain.
“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,” University of Akron biology professor Todd Blackledge told Live Science.
The good news is, the spiders shouldn’t pose any threat to humans. The bad news? Some crops might become so enshrouded in web that they can’t get any sunlight, meaning farmers might have a bad harvest to look forward to.