According to ABC News, the recent floods in Wagga Wagga, Australia, have caused approximately 8,000 individuals to evacuate their homes. James McTavish, the Murrumbidgee SES controller, told ABC News, “In Wagga itself, we’re expecting at 10.6 metres to have very extensive flooding through North Wagga and surrounding areas.”
And it is within those surrounding areas that a spider belonging to the Linyphiidae family is struggling to survive. Countless numbers of the spiders have taken to bushes, trees, tall grass – anything that gets them up and away from the floodwater.
The spiders are called “Sheet Weavers” due to the shape of their web. Normally, the webs are rather thin, not as dense and observable as the ones surrounding Wagga Wagga. The condensing of the spider population has created a gigantic sprawl of a web.
Sheet Weavers travel by climbing to the highest point, casting a strand of silk into the air, and waiting for a strong gust to pull them to a new, unknown destination. The problem in Wagga Wagga, though, is that so many spiders are trying this at the same time, creating a spider congestion.
Graham Milledge, entomology collections manager at the Australian Museum, said, “The behaviour is called ballooning – that is how [the spiders] disperse. They often land in the same place and that is why you get this large mass of them.”
Graham Milledge claims the spiders are harmless to humans.