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Mysterious, web-like strands are falling from the sky over California

By T.K. Randall
October 7, 2023 · Comment icon 12 comments
Clouds in a blue sky.
Something spidery is floating on the wind. Image Credit: Pixabay / qimono
A peculiar natural phenomenon has been leaving California residents watching the skies this month.
Local news outlets have this week been reporting on a rather unusual spectacle - thin, web-like strands falling from empty skies over parts of the Golden State.

In some cases, clumps of this material have even ended up littering roads and walkways.

While the phenomenon has left some people scratching their heads, it turns out that there is a conventional explanation for why this is happening.
These threads are in fact spider webs created by infant arachnids that are 'ballooning' - an intriguing practice that involves creating little 'parachutes' out of web that are carried on the wind.

This helps the spiders to travel much longer distances than would otherwise be possible.

"After they hatch, baby spiders release strands of silk that get caught by the wind and carry them to new homes," said biological sciences professor Dr. Fredrick Larabee of San Jose State University.

"That way they can find food and homes without competing with their siblings."



Source: The Messenger | Comments (12)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Piney 7 months ago
There's a section in one of my wife's stewardship forests where there is so many garden spiders when the wind blows they rain on you. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Grim Reaper 6 7 months ago
Thanks Piney, I will never go camping again!!!
Comment icon #5 Posted by Normandy888 7 months ago
All I can say is…BURN IT WITH FIRE!!!!
Comment icon #6 Posted by Hammerclaw 7 months ago
Parachute spiders have been known for well over a hundred years. Some people don't get out often enough.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Grim Reaper 6 7 months ago
According to the link in the OP, they are unable to catch any spiders for identification. So, are you Shure that is the Species of Spider they are talking about? Scientists like Dr. Fredrick Larabee believe the webs are being made by baby spiders (or spiderlings) looking to head out into the world to find food. "After they hatch, baby spiders release strands of silk that get caught by the wind and carry them to new homes," said Larabee, a professor of biological sciences at San Jose State University. "That way they can find food and homes without competing with their siblings." Larabee admits ... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Hammerclaw 6 months ago
Most orb-web spiders parachute, but only as hatchlings. They weave a strand of silk which is caught by the wind and are set aloft. No full-grown spider parachutes. Spiders are predators and unlike cicadas, won't congregate. The point of parachuting is to be scattered far and wide across the landscape, lessening competition.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Grim Reaper 6 6 months ago
When I was growing up in Missouri the Parachuting spiders were everywhere this time of year. However, in this situation they have not been able to identify the Spider Species, because they have not found any Spiders. I suspose it's only a matter of time before they figure this little mystery out!
Comment icon #10 Posted by Piney 6 months ago
That is just weird...
Comment icon #11 Posted by Grim Reaper 6 6 months ago
It is pretty strange, at least in Missouri when a web landed on you there was a spider in it.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Jon the frog 6 months ago
Nice article: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/spiders-fly-on-the-currents-of-earths-electric-field  


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