Spellbinding giant spider webs discovered in Jerusalem forest

Rare proliferation of spiders near treated sewage watercourse is 'exceptional case', but it won't last long, academics say

Harry Cockburn
Tuesday 07 November 2017 17:52 GMT

Colossal pale stalactites have recently appeared suspended among the trees along a stream in Israel where there were none before.

But the new ethereal landscape may not be universally appreciated – this gothic architecture is woven by an explosion of long-jawed spiders in the Soreq creek on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

The prognathous arachnids have shrouded entire trees in giant glittering cobwebs on a scale rarely seen in the Middle East.

The Soreq watercourse reportedly contains treated sewage which is rich in nutrients. This aids the proliferation of mosquitoes, which then serve as a food source for the spiders, spurring a reproductive boom.

“It’s an exceptional case,” arachnophile Igor Armicach, a doctoral student at Hebrew University’s Arachnid Collection, told Reuters.

But while gravid spider egg sacs and spiderlings are everywhere among the towering gossamer structures, the future is less than glittering for the long-jawed spiders.

Winter is coming – and the cooler temperatures will kill off the flourishing mosquito population living at the stream, ending the spiders’ abundant food source.

The spiders are part of the orb-weaving family of arachnids, which have unusually large mandibles. They normally weave horizontal webs with an open centre.

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