Tiny spiders 'rain' down in Australian town

Canberra, May 20, AZERTAC

Drought-ridden Australia needs all the rain it can get, but earlier this month something other than precipitation fell from the sky.

Millions of tiny spiders appeared to rain down on a rural town as they "flew" and landed in spider webs as part of a "migration phenomenon.

"The whole place was covered in these little black spiderlings and when I looked up at the sun it was like this tunnel of webs going up for a couple of hundred meters into the sky," Ian Watson, a resident said.

The onslaught of spiders can be explained by a migration technique called "ballooning," according to Martyn Robinson, a naturalist from the Australian Museum. Robinson told the Sydney Morning Herald that baby spiders climb to the top of vegetation and release streams of silk that are picked up by the breeze. He said some spiders have been carried almost 1.8 miles above the ground and can travel long distances.

"They can literally travel for kilometers … which is why every continent has spiders. Even in Antarctica they regularly turn up but just die," he told the Morning Herald.

Robinson said during mass migrations entire fields are covered in the thin silk, which is often called "angel hair."

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