Locals initially believed the web was frost
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Residents have begun to panic, as millions of spiders invaded a town in Tennessee and are crawling into their homes. It’s perhaps a source of fascination for some, but likely the stuff of nightmares for others.
Residents of Memphis, Tennessee, are now facing thousands of the little arachnids invading their homes, lawns, and porches, sending most into panic. Their source has been found to be a giant spider web that is nearly half a mile long. It has spread to such an extensive amount that the locals believed it was frost in the beginning.
It can be argued that the reality of the situation was much more frightening. The giant web has been suggested to host “millions” of the tiny spiders, and are now spreading even into people’s homes. According to one of the residents, Debra Lewis, “it’s like a horror movie”, as the arachnids are “flying everywhere”.
They’re crawling around windows and doors. According to another resident of the town, Ida Morris, there were at least twenty of them on her porch. The locals are trying to deal with the problem as best as they can, but killing them one by one isn’t providing good results. If there any arachnophobes in the town, they’ve likely already packed their things and drove in the opposite direction until they ran out of gas.
However, according to Memphis Zoo curator, Steve Reichling, the event is essentially “harmless”. It’s a natural “mass dispersal” that does not pose as much threat. In fact, it’s common, and it happens around meadows frequently without us even knowing. Seeing it does tend to change the problem though, especially if they are crawling into the homes of residents.
According to an arachnologist at the University of Tennessee, Susan Riechart, this common phenomenon is called “ballooning”. It frequently happens when tiny spiders disperse a “swath of silk threads that may be over a meter in length”. With the aid of air currents, these patches of their web carries them over from their initial location to others. In this case, in Memphis.
Certain air currents favor “ballooning” and it’s possible for thousands of spiders to take off at the same time. This could explain their arrival in huge numbers around the town. They have no control where they end up. It might also be further aided by hibernation patterns before the colder months arrive.
Residents of the town, however, are not happy at all. Be it a natural phenomenon or a place to wait out the winter, they want the spiders gone. According to Lewis, they’re everywhere, and the area should be cleaned up, sprayed, and made safe again. There are “kids running around”, who may end up bitten.
However, Riechart assures that their mouths are not even large enough to pierce skin.
Image source: strangesounds.org