Spiders fall from the sky in Australia

It is raining spiders in Australia - yes, really.

Scientists have confirmed that the eight-legged creatures fell from the sky in the Southern Tablelands, with locals reporting that their homes were covered in spiders.

Resident Ian Watson told the Sydney Morning Herald: "The whole place was covered in these little black spiderlings and when I looked up at the sun it was like this tunnel of webs going up for a couple of hundred metres into the sky."

Experts say the strange phenomenon is not as unusual as we think.

It is called spider rain, or angel hair, because of the silky, hair-like thread the spiders leave behind.

Rick Vetter, a retired arachnologist at the University of California, Riverside, told Live Science that what Watson saw was likely to be ballooning.

"Ballooning is a not-uncommon behaviour of many spiders. They climb some high area and stick their butts up in the air and release silk. Then they just take off," Vetter said.

In 2012, severe flooding in the town of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales caused thousands of spiders to move to higher ground and left the area appearing as though it had been covered by a thick white blanket.

World's deadliest insects
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Spiders fall from the sky in Australia
Native to east and southeast Asia, the Asian giant hornet is the world's largest hornet with its two-inch-long body and three-inch wingspan. Especially well known in Japan, the hornet packs a lot of venom and can attack and kill people. Hundreds of people were stung by the flying insects in the Chinese province of Shaanxi in October 2013. The hornets killed 28 people with their highly toxic sting that can lead to anaphylactic shock and renal failure.
Tsetse flies may resemble house flies but these insects, found mostly in Africa, are blood suckers that carry dangerous parasites, causing sleeping sickness or trypanosomiasis. The disease develops slowly but can be fatal if treatment is delayed. Tourists on safari holidays in destinations, such as Tanzania and South Africa, as well as in the Sahara have been bitten by tsetse flies.
There's nothing scary about ants, right? Wrong! Fire ants attack humans with both a bite and sting, leaving your skin swollen, red and painful. While their sting is more bearable than a bee sting, fire ants have been known to kill people, especially those who are allergic. Native to South America and found in hot countries, the insects can cause victims who are allergic to their bite to sweat, have slurred speech and chest pain.
Known for carrying Chagas disease, Assassin bugs most often infect people in poor, rural areas of the Americas. They are known as 'kissing bugs' as they usually bite their victims around the mouth and nose while they are sleeping - some bites are painless and others are the most painful of any insect. The danger comes after the bite, with Chagas disease causing rashes, fevers and vomiting, and in some cases death.

You probably didn't think you'd find the common dust mite in our roundup of dangerous insects but when it comes to Britain's deadliest bugs, these tiny invertebrates that can only be seen under a microscope are the biggest killers. 90 per cent of asthma sufferers in the UK identify dust times as a trigger for their attacks and charity Asthma UK says there were 1,143 deaths from asthma in the Britain in 2010. While not all of these deaths were caused by dust mites, droppings left by the insects can trigger asthma attacks.

Malaria has killed millions of people worldwide and is most commonly transmitted by a bite from an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Once the female bites an infected human, she transmits the malarial parasites to the next person she feeds on. Dengue is another killer disease spread by mosquitoes, with experts warning travellers to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup of the risks when visiting the South American country.

They may be tiny but ticks can be deadly too. They feed on the blood of mammals and spread diseases between their hosts. The most serious for humans is Lyme disease, which if left untreated can cause permanent disability. In 2008, a British woman plunged to her death from her bedroom window after suffering from Lyme disease when she was bitten by a tick while staying at her friend's property in France. The tick bite caused Jan Lynton to suffer paranoid delusions.
The fact that Bull ants are found in Australia (where some of the world's deadliest and most venomous animals live) tells us their sting probably packs a serious punch. Also known as Jack Jumpers, they are one of the oldest ant species, grow over 40mm-long and are extremely aggressive towards intruders. They can spot you from a metre away and their highly painful sting can cause anaphylactic shock if you're allergic.
It may look cute and furry to some but the puss caterpillar is far from. The fuzzy creature, found in North America, will spit acid at any attacker and has poisonous pines all over its body, which can cause extreme reactions for humans. Although no deaths have been recorded as of yet, its sting is hard to identify leading to patients being misdiagnosed and sometimes accidental deaths.
Africanized honey bees, or Killer bees, viciously attack people who unintentionally enter their territory. They are extremely sensitive to vibrations and when disturbed they have extra soldiers on duty to respond to alarms. The bees are similar to regular honey bees but have a defensive attack, so when a colony senses a threat a victim can be stung around 2,000 times, compared to up to 200 times by honey bees. In June 2013, a farmer was tragically killed in Texas, USA when he was driving a tractor on his neighbour's property and hit a pile of wood that concealed a hive of 40,000 Africanized bees.

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Animal islands
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Spiders fall from the sky in Australia
Pig Beach, or Pig Island, is an uninhabited island in Exuma, the Bahamas, famed for its many swimming pigs. They are said to have been dropped off on the island by sailors who wanted to return to cook and eat them, but never returned. Others say the pigs survived a shipwreck and managed to swim to the island. Today, the pigs are fed by tourists who visit the island to meet its unexpected residents.

Okunoshima Island, in Japan, attracts tourists to witness its huge rabbit population that has taken over the island, with many people visiting to feed the animals. The island, often called Usagi Jima or Rabbit Island, was used as a poison gas facility in World War II. The rabbits were intentionally set loose after the war when the island was developed as a park.

The jungles of Guam have up to 40 times more spiders than the forested areas of the nearby Pacific Islands thanks to the invasive brown snakes that wiped out 10 of the 12 spider-eating bird species. Because the birds ate some of the insects that spiders eat, there is also now more food for the spiders to eat. One of the most common types of spider in the jungle is the yellow and black Banana Spider.

The wild horses on the Assateague Island in Maryland are actually feral but tough enough to survive the scorching heat, stormy weather and poor quality food found on the remote barrier island. Local folklore says they are survivors of a shipwreck off the coast of Virginia. Assateague is one of the few places in America where you can view wild horses and visitors are advised to admire the animals from a distance.

Located just a few kilometres off the northern beaches of False Bay, near Cape Town, Seal Island is home to approximately 65,000 Cape Fur Seals. The island is a popular feeding ground for the great white shark and lucky visitors may see the fish breaching in pursuit of its prey. Seal Island is like a sea of brown bodies stretching and hauling themselves along the rocks. It is too rocky to disembark but well worth observing from a boat.

The rhesus macaques on Cayo Santiago, also known as Monkey Island, off the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, were introduced in 1938 for scientific research. Around 1,200 free-roaming monkeys can be found on the small island and while it is not open to tourists, you can get an up close view of the animals from the water.

The island of Tashirojima, or Cat Island, off the coast of Ishinomaki in Japan has a larger cat population than it has humans. The people who live on the island are those who take care of the cats. To the locals the cats represent luck and fortune, and there is even a cat shrine at the centre of the island, along with cat-shaped cottages. Cat-loving tourists are welcome to visit the island, but dogs are not allowed.

Every year during the wet season (October to December), Christmas Island's adult red crabs begin their migration from the forest to the Indian Ocean where they breed and spawn. With tens of millions of red crabs living on the island it is possible to witness them pour out of the jungle and take over Christmas Island. The phenomenon lasts several weeks, forcing roads to close for the crabs to cross.

Norway's famous bird island, Runde, is teeming with birds - more than 500,000 that visit from February to August during the nesting season. Bird mountain, with its cliff formations towards the ocean, is dominated by Atlantic puffins. Their nesting season is between April and August, when 100,000 pairs of puffins can be found on the western side of Runde. Outside puffin season, they stay at sea along the coast.

The tiny uninhabited island of Ilha da Queimada Grande, off the coast of Brazil, is definitely one to avoid as it is teeming with one of the most venomous snakes on the planet, the Golden Lancehead Viper. Every three feet, one of the snakes is lurking, terrifying generations of fisherman. Currently, the Brazilian Navy has banned people from visiting the island but occasionally scientists are granted access.

There are approximately 3,000 polar bears and just 2,642 people in the Svalbard archipelago. A large number of polar bears are found on the surrounding islands east of Spitsbergen, yet you should be prepared to encounter one anywhere in Svalbard. As the world's largest land carnivores they are beautiful but dangerous and human encounters often have a fatal outcome. There are polar bear watching cruises which allow you to see the animals from a distance.

Hawaiian island Kauai is famed for its lush vegetation, pristine beaches and… chickens. Roosters, hens and little chicks are found roaming the island and are believed to be descendants of former fighting cocks unleashed during a devastating hurricane which hit over a decade ago. The birds are found in outdoor food courts, ruining sugar cane and corn crops, and even waking tourists at the crack of dawn.



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