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Spider Silk Parachutists

August 1, 2013

A.genikulata (Photo credit: beardforgood)

The Daddy long-legs spider, also called the Gr...

The Daddy long-legs spider, also called the Granddaddy long-legs spider, cellar spider, vibrating spider, or house spider. Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Arthropoda Class: Arachnida Order: Araneae Suborder: Araneomorphae Family: Pholcidae (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Black widow

Black widow (Photo credit: agrilifetoday)

It was too much to hope for, four days straight of sunshine. I awoke this morning to gray, overcast skies and a steady drizzle of rain. Yesterday was a beautiful day. Sunny, high 70’s, and a gentle breeze. I washed my clothes and hung them up outside to dry. Around 6:00 pm I went out to get them. I saw something I have never witnessed before. There was a bunch of twenty or thirty small spiders drifting on the wind, dangling from spider silk parachutes! The sun hit the chutes at just the right angle to let me see them. I am not sure what kind of spiders they were. I can only recognize three species: black widows, tarantulas, and daddy-long-legs. These spiders were tiny, the size of large pin heads. Their triangular parachutes were an inch in length on the longest side. Without the sun making the webs glisten and shine I would have never noticed them. It was interesting to watch them drift away until they were out of sight. It only took a minute for them to vanish against the background they were so small. Curious I went on-line. I soon learned that “ballooning” is a common method used by the smaller species of spiders for their young to distribute themselves over new territories. The majority of balloonists are spiderlings. Most travel a few hundred feet, but some who catch updrafts can cover hundreds of miles. Nature is fascinating. Emily

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