​107 Million Spiders Infest Wastewater Plant By Pulling 8-Foot Light Fixtures Out Of Place

Author: Michael StevensBy:
Staff Reporter
Nov, 4, 2014 | 9:12 AM

107 million spiders infest wastewater plant in Baltimore as they managed to pull 8-foot long light fixtures out of place, according to scientists.

Experts were called by the managers in Baltimore in 2009 because the spiders had infested the building and were causing problems for the maintenance crews, according to The Spreadit. These little creatures are living in a community of their own as they spin a phenomenal web that covered some 4 acres of a building. But of course entomologists and arachnologists couldn’t wait to dive in and find out more before the web was removed.

The scientists found the bizarre situation so incredible that it eventually warranted publication in the journal American Entomologist. As reported by the team, over 95% of the space in some parts of the plant was completely filled with web. It was so dense that some regions contained estimated densities of 35,176 spiders per cubic meter, an estimate they described as “conservative.”

As the 107 million spiders infest the wastewater plant, scientists identified them as orb-weavers. The researchers also note that the aggregation is far greater in magnitude than anything previously recorded for this type of spider. They say the visual impact of the spectacle was nothing less than astonishing.

“In places where the plant workers had swept aside the webbing to access equipment, the silk lay piled on the floor in rope-like clumps as thick as a fire hose.”

The amount of bugs the spiders had to eat was even larger. That’s a lot of insects for this community of spiders. The authors of the paper said they were contacted for “extreme spider” help for the facility that opened in 1993, according to the New York Daily News.

“We were unprepared for the sheer scale of the spider population and the extraordinary masses of both three-dimensional and sheetlike webbing that blanketed much of the facility’s cavernous interior.”

While the 107 million spiders infest the wastewater plant, the entomologists were amazed at not only the size, but the thickness of the webs. They noted that the spiders were not dangerous and should be treated with basic maintenance. They presented it as a positive light as a record-breaking “natural history wonder.”

The typical orb-weaver spiders are the most common group of builders of spiral wheel-shaped webs often found in gardens, fields and forests. Their common name is taken from the round shape of this typical web, and the taxon was formerly also referred to as the Orbiculariae. Orb-weavers have eight similar eyes, hairy or spiny legs, and no stridulating organs.

Generally, orb-weaving spiders are three-clawed builders of flat webs with sticky spiral capture silk. The building of a web is an engineering feat, begun when the spider floats a line on the wind to another surface. The spider secures the line and then drops another line from the center, making a “Y”.

As the 107 million spiders infest the wastewater plant, the web will soon be removed, The Huffington Post notes. However, the images, courtesy of the Entomological Society of America, should serve as a reminder of what these spiders can do. They found a building and took it over as their home.

Share this article