Spiders are remarkable creatures. Image Credit: PD - TGoeller
It turns out that spiders are able to stay airborne over vast distances using the Earth's natural electric fields.
To fly, spiders will typically climb to the top of a tall plant and then rapidly eject large amounts of silk from their abdomen. As soon as the wind catches it, the spider will be rapidly swept up in to the air.
Over the years however, scientists have discovered that some spiders seem to be able to maintain flight for hundreds of miles even when there are no wind currents to carry them.
Now according to a new study, the answer to this lies in the Earth's natural electric fields which can electrostatically charge the silk threads and enable a spider to remain aloft for long periods of time.
In a recent experiment, sensory biophysicist Erica Morley set up a box in which she was able to reproduce the types of electric fields typically found in nature. Her findings indicated that these fields had a significant impact on a spider's ability to remain in the air.
"When they take off, you can switch off the electric field and watch them drop, then switch it on and see them rise again," she said.
Incredibly, some spiders have been known to reach altitudes of two miles or more.
No wonder our eight-legged friends have managed to colonize almost every country on Earth.
Source: The Guardian | Comments (7)