Well in advance of Halloween, large, creepy, white webs seem to be floating around the air in Dallas -- sticking to cars, trees and hair.
The silky strands hovering around the city could be attributed to sprouting spiders.
"Often, in the fall," Dallas Zoo invertebrate keeper Tim Brys told ABC News, "you have baby spiders of various species that, something triggers them to hatch and then, directly after hatching, they'll spread a long silk line out behind their abdomen. The wind catches that and lifts them into the air like a balloon.
"The process is actually called 'ballooning' and it helps spread them out," he said. "It helps cut down on competition because they're being spread to different areas."
The Dallas Zoo has received calls from residents inquiring about the ghostly strands that could range in length from a few inches to as much as 10 feet. They can look a lot like the Halloween decorations that pop up around this time of year -- except these stringy layers of webs are the real deal.
Ballooning is not exclusive to Dallas. It happens wherever spiders live, but may be more noticeable in Dallas right now because of the weather -- specifically, because of cold nights and hot days, and a lack of breeze during the day, Brys said.
"It happens every year, pretty much, but we normally don't notice it as much as we have this year," he said. "What I've been told is the weather conditions have caused the ballooning spiders to not be able to balloon as far or as well, and that their lines are probably getting tangled up as they're blowing."
While some of the spider species that are "ballooning" may be poisonous, Brys said the younger, hatching baby spiders' venom is not dangerous.
Those with the arachnophobia fear not: Brys assured the public there is nothing to worry about.
"Most people will never see these spiders and will never even know they were there because they're so small," he said. "So there's really nothing to worry about, and there's really nothing you have to do about it."
Brys, a bug specialist who works with spiders on a daily basis, pointed out the timing of the lofty webs.
"The timing for Halloween is pretty good," he said. "I had somebody ask me yesterday if it was possible that maybe Spider-Man was lurking around the area. I laughed and told them that, although I don't think there is any, you know, that I can't discount that there may be a superhero in the area, it's most likely baby spiders ballooning."
- Nature & Environment
- Dallas Zoo