There’s a lot of flooding in New South Wales, Australia (can I come visit, please?), and as the floodwaters rise, so are the spiders. You’d think the citizenry would be pleased to meet their usually-hidden fellow denizens, but noooo.
At the same time, rising floodwaters surrounded Melanie Williams’s home, thousands of spiders scaled the fence in her front yard.
“That was enough to really freak me out, I had never seen anything like it before,” she said.
“I am an arachnophobe from way back so I hope they’ve gone back to wherever they came from.”
Wait. How can you be an arachnophobe in Australia? They’ve got such big, gorgeous spiders all over the place! You’re just seeing more than usual right now, and the floods are bring out the cute little cuddly ones.
Here’s a good explanation of the phenomenon.
A plague of spiders might seem apocalyptic, but experts say the episode is easily explained.
Professor Dieter Hochuli leads Sydney University’s integrative ecology group and has made a career out of examining what drives the ecology of animals and plants.
He described the phenomenon as “fascinating” and said the spiders were always there — we just don’t usually notice them.
“All this is happening under our noses, but we just don’t know what’s going on,” he said.
“There’s this vibrant ecosystem happening all the time.
“What happens with the floods is all these animals that spend their lives cryptically on the ground can’t live there anymore.
“The spiders are the really obvious ones as they throw out their webs.
“Just like people, they’re trying to get to higher ground during a flood.”
Exactly. Just like I know there are plenty of spiders around during our long Minnesota winters. They’re just hunkered down in the leaf litter, or deep down in the soil, or under rocks, or in compost heaps, or in my basement. Spring is just when they creep out and start flourishing and bringing beauty and joy back to the world.
Which reminds me…it’s time for my morning spider therapy session. I’ve got to work fast because I teach a class on Tuesday mornings.