Tuesday, 03/13/12

Quote of the Week   —   Posted on March 13, 2012

“The spiders don’t pose any harm at all. They are doing us a favor. They are actually helping us out.”
“The amount of mosquitoes around would be incredible because of all this water…”

Brett Finlayson, Australia’s Taronga Zoo spider keeper, talking about thousands of normally solitary wolf spiders that have blanketed an Australian farm after fleeing a rising flood.

Spiders and other insects fill the trees after flooding last year in Pakistan (Russell Watkins/U.K.)

The flooding has forced more than 8,000 Australian residents from their homes in the city of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. But for every temporarily displaced person, it appears several spiders have moved in to fill the void. “What we’ve seen here is a type of wolf spider,” Owen Seeman, an arachnid expert at Queensland Museum, told Reuters. “They are trying to hide away (from the waters).”

The Australian Museum’s entomology collections manager Graham Milledge told Reuters that there’s even a term for the phenomenon, “ballooning,” and that it is typical behavior for spiders forced to escape rising waters.

Thankfully for local residents, the occupying arachnids are not likely to set up permanent residence… Weather reports say the flood waters in Wagga Wagga have begun receding, meaning that locals will soon be returning to their homes and the wolf spiders will also be returning to their natural underground habitats.

And it turns out the spiders are actually doing quite a bit of good while setting up shop above ground. The spiders are feasting on mosquitoes and other insect populations that have boomed with the increased moisture brought about by the rising waters.


Watch a weather report including information about the spiders: