Thousands of spiders flee floods

 

In scenes most people would only experience in their nightmares, thousands of spiders have been caught on camera fleeing rising floodwaters across NSW.

A number of locals across the flooded state took to social media to share horrifying pictures of the phenomenon.

One of these was Melanie Williams, who almost lost her Macksville house to the swollen Nambucca River, on NSW's mid-north coast.

Speaking to the ABC, Ms Williams said she was watching the floodwaters make their way to her home when she spotted "all these little black things" running up her fence.

"That was enough to really freak me out. I had never seen anything like it before," she said.

"I am an arachnophobe from way back so I hope they've gone back to wherever they came from.

"I occasionally see spiders around the place but never anything like that. It was just insane."

 

The spiders outside Ms Williams’ home. Picture: Melanie Williams/Facebook
The spiders outside Ms Williams’ home. Picture: Melanie Williams/Facebook

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Ms Williams was initially puzzled by the phenomenon, but on closer inspection she realised the spiders were finding any dry land they could.

"As the water was rising, the letterbox was going under further and further and I could see all these little black things on there and I thought, 'Oh my God, they're spiders,'" she said.

"Then I looked at my neighbour's fence and almost had a heart attack. There were literally thousands of them."

The spiders, later identified as wolf spiders, were also photographed by Ms Williams carrying their egg sacks to protect their babies.

 

Wolf spiders usually live underground. Picture: Melanie Williams
Wolf spiders usually live underground. Picture: Melanie Williams

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Wolf spiders typically live in burrows underground, with the flood waters forcing them out of their secret homes and into the open.

An hour south of Ms Williams' Macksville home, more spiders were fleeing the flooded Kinchela Creek.

Kinchela, a village on the mid-north coast of NSW, sits near the Macleay River.

In a now-viral post on Facebook, Kinchela local Matt Lovenfosse shared the horrifying picture.

"All the brown you can see is spiders trying to beat the flood water," he wrote.

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Kinchela Creek spiders. Picture: Matt Lovenfosse
Kinchela Creek spiders. Picture: Matt Lovenfosse

 

Thousands of spiders fleeing the water. Picture: Matt Lovenfosse
Thousands of spiders fleeing the water. Picture: Matt Lovenfosse

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Despite the wild pictures, a professor from Sydney University's integrative ecology group said the flood of spiders wasn't a surprise.

"All this is happening under our noses, but we just don't know what's going on," Professor Dieter Hochuli told the ABC.

"There's this vibrant ecosystem happening all the time.

"What happens with the floods is all these animals that spend their lives cryptically on the ground can't live there anymore.

"The spiders are the really obvious ones as they throw out their webs.

"Just like people, they're trying to get to higher ground during a flood."

Prof Hochuli said spiders were moving "from the ground floor to the penthouse", just like humans would, to avoid floodwaters.

"One of the reasons we don't notice these sorts of species normally is because they're hunted by other things, like birds," he said.

"The urgency of getting out of the floods means these ground-dwelling animals have to move.

"Some spiders can survive underwater for a period of time but others can't and those ones are basically trying to move from the ground floor to the penthouse to avoid being flooded out.

"They can't fly, so they do what they have to, to escape the water."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian earlier today revealed the devastating human cost of the flood crisis, saying many feel they are at "breaking point" as more than 18,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

The Premier said around 15,000 people have been evacuated from homes on the north coast and around 3000 in the Richmond Valley region.

 

 

Originally published as Thousands of spiders flee floods


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