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Spider ballooning: People react to web-like substances falling across Bay Area skies

Spider webs have appeared to be floating across the Bay Area skies.

NBC Bay Area recently had gotten reports and several viewer videos, showing white, sticky clumps of webbing floating in the air from Dublin to Gilroy and even Monterey.

Morgan Hill resident Marisa Flynn told NBC Bay Area Thursday that she seen them while playing pickleball.

“We thought it was some kind of Halloween stuff floating around. They were almost like a cotton ball material. Big, clumpy and white,” she said.

It ends up exactly what they appear to be, which are spider webs and they are part of a process called “spider ballooning.”

Right after many baby spiders are born, they release tiny strands of silk that act as parachutes, letting them catch the breeze and float away to find their own homes.

“Spiders, after they hatch, they disperse. A lot of animals disperse. They get away from where they were originally born because when you hatch, with hundreds or thousands of siblings, there’s a lot of competition for food,” said Dr. Fred Larabee, an assistant professor of biological sciences at San Jose State University.

Larabee added that he’s not sure what kinds of spiders are doing this right now. But he says it’s common in the fall and spring for most species.

“But they’ll be individual strands sort of floating around by themselves. But then, once they touch each other, they are kind of sticky so they stick together,” he said.

So why are so many people noticing them now? Larabee says it’s because the number of arachnids vary from year to year and this year may be a bumper crop.

“It does happen every year but if populations are really big. You’re going to notice it more because there’s more of them around,” he said.

San Martin resident David Marshall said on Thursday that he was familiar with spider ballooning.

“A lot more than I’ve seen in the past,” he said. “You don’t see them every year. At least I haven’t. In Gilroy yesterday, there were a lot of them.”

Many people agreed Thursday that nature picked the perfect time, right before Halloween, to give us this mysterious science lesson.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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