Spiders on the move in flood-ravaged Australia

WAGGA WAGGA, Australia Wed Mar 7, 2012 11:54pm IST

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WAGGA WAGGA, Australia (Reuters) - Thousands of spiders have cast eerie webs over vast areas of flood-hit Australia after being forced to seek shelter by the rising waters.

Experts said the spiders may be spinning the sticky webs to help them survive the deluge, which has forced thousands of people to leave their homes over the past week.

"What we've seen here is a type of wolf spider," Owen Seeman, arachnid expert at Queensland Museum, told Reuters.

"They are trying to hide away (from the waters)."

The spider webs were seen near the inland city of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, where 8,000 people were forced from their homes before the flood waters receded on Wednesday.

The Australian Museum's entomology collections manager Graham Milledge said the spiders' behavior was known as ballooning, and was typical after spiders are forced to flee from floods.

"They often do it as a way of dispersing and getting into a new area," Milledge told the news.com.au website. "In an event like this, they are just trying to escape the floods."

Sydney's Taronga Zoo said Australia's spider population has boomed in the wet weather.

(Reporting by Daniel Munoz in Wagga Wagga and Maggie Lu YueYang in Canberra; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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