One of my students dropped a petri dish full of newly emerged spiderlings at approximately 10:15am on 31 July 2019. Containment was breached. Occupants of the dish saw their opportunity and immediately began ballooning, rappelling down from the desktop, and generally making a concerted escape. The air was full of tiny baby spiders on invisible strands of silk wafting about; the authorities made an effort to retrieve the escapees, which mainly consisted of staring cross-eyed into the air and trying to snare balloon thread with paintbrushes and fingers. Many were recovered, but others remain at large.
After I was done laughing, I faced a dilemma. Do I report this to the biology safety officer? I err on the side of caution, and immediately explain the situation to the official in charge, who happens to be me.
Me: Scores of baby Parasteatoda tepidariorum have launched themselves into the air in a mad bid for freedom!
Safety officer: Are they harmless, cute, and adorable?
Me: Yes, very.
SO: Quick, release a bottle of fruit flies so the little rascals don’t go hungry!
Also, we captured some of the escapees into different petri dishes, which effectively reduces the population density of the newborns. Good way to redistribute the surplus population.
My colleagues are going to be wishing I went back to zebrafish. The occasional flood now looks benign.