'Ballooning' Spiders Releasing Webs Across Oklahoma

Tuesday, October 8th 2019, 6:46 pm
By: Caleigh Bourgeois

Scientists at Oklahoma State University confirm spiderwebs are floating through the air in Oklahoma. 

White material covering fences, plants and seemingly flying in the wind, is actually a mode of transportation for spiders.

“This time of year is when spiderlings that have either hatched or very, very small spiders do a thing called ‘ballooning’, or ‘kiting,’” Professor of Entomology Dr. Phil Mulder said.

Mulder said in the fall, some species of baby spiders hatch, release webbing, and the let the wind carry them to a new location.

“This material is called, gossamer, is windblown. It can actually respond to electrical currents to some extent,” Mulder said.

However, a balloon ride for spiders it can be a nuisance for humans.

“Sometimes when it's really heavy, you'll get matting, a mat of spider silk, that will form on the grass,” Mulder said.

While matting may accumulate outdoors, Mulder said these spiders likely won’t move inside, and won’t bite humans.

“It's not a species that is known to bite people or anything of that nature,” Mulder said.

The process won’t last forever. Mulder said it will stop once the first big freeze comes through.

“Be patient. If you get some in your hair, get some in your face, that's just part of the process,” Mulder said.

If it seems unbearable this year, it's not easy for the spiders either.

“They can float up to three miles up into the atmosphere and so you can imagine, not too many survive,” Mulder said.