Arachnophobes, grab an umbrella. In one Australian town, it’s been raining spiders.
Let that sink in: Spiders. Falling. From. The. Sky.
The phenomenon, while inspiring for any would-be sci-fi horror writers out there, is a fairly routine part of spider migration that has been observed by scientists since Darwin’s time. In Goulburn, Australia, 120 miles from Sydney, residents recently described seeing “this tunnel of webs going up for a couple of hundred meters into the sky.” The town was transformed into one big web-covered haunted house as black baby spiders fell from the air like snow.
To migrate, spiders send out silk threads that catch the wind and lift them aloft. They don’t have any control over where they go, but can travel hundreds of miles, even landing on islands in the middle of the ocean (which might be why the eight-legged creatures can be found all over the world). A 2013 study by a University of Hawaii physicist postulated that the spiders may also harness the Earth’s electrostatic forces to fly even when there isn’t wind.
Check out what a sky full of spiders looks like in this (admittedly shaky) video:
Ballooning is typically a seasonal behavior seen among small, young spiders, but on rare occasions larger adult spiders also cast out their silk and take off [PDF]. Such migrations are common in southeastern Australia, and have also been seen in recent years in Texas and Brazil. Nowhere in the world is safe from spider rain.