Sunday, November 6, 2016

Spider webs blanketing the fields

See how many incredibly rural components there are to this next sentence ...

When we were driving home from our first 4-H meeting in Kris' truck, we noticed that the pasture was blanketed with spider webs.  The sun shining on it made it look golden.  When we got to the farm, we saw that every tree and every weed - as far as you could see - was covered in spider webs.

(Rural, right?)

How many billions of spiders made these?  Does it have something to do with the warm weather and no frost?  Is it because of the fog this morning?  How can it be that I had NEVER seen this before?

I tried to take pictures, but I had to take them into the sun to make the webs show up, and it didn't work very well.

All the gold is spider webs, covering the ground
After awhile I gave up and just enjoyed it.  We all went for a run/bike/stroller ride and I stressed to the boys I'd never seen this before and they might never see this again.

I looked it up and saw tons of pictures of this happening across the world.  This picture is off the internet from here, but it looked kind of like this, only with the sun on it:

I googled things like 'why is the ground covered in spiderwebs?' and found this article:


"What’s causing the blanket of silk web covering parts of a field in a residential neighborhood is a migration event called “ballooning.” What happens during ballooning is that spiders disperse by shooting out threads of silk. These threads catch wind currents that transport these members of the Linyphiidae family forward several feet at a time.

...“This would explain the fact that thousands to hundreds of thousands may take off at the same time,” explained  Susan Riechart, a professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and former president of the American Arachnological Society, to The Washington Post.

“Caught by the air currents, the spiderlings have no control over where they will land, but it is not surprising that they may fall in the same area," said Dr. Riechart.

Such ballooning events are not unique to Memphis. They can happen all over the Northern Hemisphere – and have been spotted in Britain and Australia – but scientists don’t really know why and when.

Ballooning is simply, “a spectacular natural history occurrence," explained Robb Bennett, a spider expert at Canada’s Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, to National Geographic.

In 2012, for example, record rains and flooding in News South Wales, Australia, caused millions of wolf spiders to shoot their silky way to safety up trees and bushes, covering the city of Wagga Wagga in white."

(Of course 'Charlotte's Web' came to mind.  But most importantly ... )

"Though events like this are understandably unnerving to people, they’re an indication of a healthy ecosystem. Memphis residents might feel consoled to know that these spiders feed on many agricultural pests, which is beneficial for farmers.

“I would not want to live in a world where such things were no longer possible,” Reichling from the Memphis Zoo said. “The presence of these spiders tells us that all is well with nature at that location."


So this article basically is telling me that this occurrence happened as a benefit to us and that all is right with the world?  I don't know when I've liked an article as much.  I'll take it!

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