Animal Welfare

Massive Spider Webs Envelop Rowlett. It's not Creepy. It's Art.

From the extravagantly named Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service comes this exciting news (if you're a crazy person) or warning (if you're me) of a "football field-length stretch of [CA Roan Drive]" in Rowlett that's been blessed (or cursed) with a massive, tree-covering spider web built by thousands of spiders.

“Someone stepping off the road for a closer look will see thousands of lanky spiders darting among the webs that extend up to 40 feet into the trees,” says Mike Merchant, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service urban entomologist in a press release. “There is a surreal quality to the extensive webbing covering these trees." 

According to Merchant, most spiders work on their webs independently, but under the right conditions — in this case an abundance of food in the form of small insects coming from nearby Lake Ray Hubbard — the species building the web, Tetragnatha guatemalensis, will build in massive groups.

Merchant suggests that a reasonable person's first instinct when confront with this many spiders — to run away or burn everything down — is wrong.

“These types of spiders are unusual in that they are not aggressive to other spiders of the same species on the same web. They also are not known to bite or be harmful to humans,” he says. “Insecticides or other treatments are really unnecessary as this spider is essentially harmless and, although the communal nest may look spooky, they too are basically benign and are a sight more to be appreciated than feared.” If you want to go check the web out, Merchant suggests treating the spiders handiwork as if it were in a museum.

"[P]lease don’t touch the art," he says.


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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young