Images taken from the East Gippsland region show cobwebs covering large swathes like a sheet. Some of the pictures were posted by a user on Reddit who said: “If the floods weren't enough, I give you, spider apocalypse.”
Victoria was hit by heavy rains and high winds last week, forcing thousands of people to evacuate. There are still many who remain without power in the state as authorities repair transformers and clear roads.
Gippsland was hit hard during the flooding last week, and the region could still receive heavy rainfall this week. Emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp told Australian Associated Press that there’s “a chance we could see up to 50mm in East Gippsland and back into south and west Gippsland”.
Professor Dieter Hochuli of the University of Sydney said that the cobwebs are a natural phenomenon, and not an apocalypse.
He told 7NEWS that what’s been seen in Victoria is a group of spiders called sheet web spiders who mostly stay on the ground layer, but start moving during heavy rains and flooding.
“They move to a higher ground (and build a new house there),” he was quoted as saying by 7NEWS.
Professor Hochuli also said that the webs of these spiders are flat, and different different from orb webs — the ones usually seen.
Local media reported that the phenomenon is known as “ballooning”. In such events, spiders release silk strands which are caught by the wind and allow them to be carried away.
“Many land close by, sometimes swathing the landscape in gossamer silk; but others may travel long distances across land or sea,” according to the Australian Museum.
MP Jason Wood also shared a picture from Gippsland:
A similar phenomenon was seen in Gippsland in 2013 when a sheet of cobwebs covered the region after heavy rains.
Earlier this year, residents of New South Wales shared pictures of clusters of spiders entering homes while trying to escape floodwaters. The spiders, which were later identified to be wolf spiders, came out to seek shelter in homes as NSW was hit with the worst flood in 50 years.