They say that crisis brings about the best in us all, and  the people of Pakistan have had to suffer extraordinarily at the hands of the floods that began in late July 2010 killing many and affecting millions. However this is not a story of humans overcoming adversity, instead this is a story about spiders fighting for their own survival in a truly remarkable and novel manner after the catastrophe forced them from their natural environments.

Haunting or Beautiful?

These other worldly images illustrate a truly remarkable event. Like something out of a Sci Fi Horror film the trees of the Sindh region in Pakistan have been entirely cocooned in enormous web structures. This has come about as a direct result of the flood. In order to survive the floods hundreds and thousands of spiders have migrated into the trees, in many cases encasing them entirely in webs to produce truly astonishing effects. The sheer length of time taken for the water to recede has allowed this to occur on a huge scale transforming the landscape of the Sindh region. The people of Sindh province- Pakistan comment that they have never seen this phenomenon occur before, and little is documented about spiders receding to the trees in such a manner.
This is an incredible story of what scientists refer to as altruism, basically working together for mutual gain, and adaption all occuring over a relatively short space of time. Adaption to a completely new environment in a short space of time is a clear indicator of intelligence as it displays a robustness that many creatures, adapted to just one environment, lack. There is little documented evidence of altruism amongst spiders as they are often solitary hunters, though Spider colonies are not uncommon nothing on this scale spread over such a large area has been observed.  The fact that this enormous volume and diversity of arachnid life is able to exist in such a concentrated area despite the amount of competition for food and living space is a true indicator of these arachnids amazing survival instincts.

Though to many, these images present a disturbing sight as hundreds of spiders team up together to claim these trees as their own, the people of the Sindh Region of Pakistan welcome the spiders new choice of habitat. It is thought that these huge web structures surrounding the trees contribute to the survival of the natives in an indirect but hugely beneficial manner. After flooding in a wetland environment the natural thing to expect would be a huge influx of insect life, including the deadly malaria carrying female Anopheles mosquitoes which have a preference for a swamp like environment. However amazingly there has been little increase in the incidence of malaria since the floods and much of this is thought to be thanks to the extraordinary webs spun by the tree dwelling spiders. They are thought to catch a huge number of mosquitoes and other insects each day preventing the spread of diseases such as malaria. This is a fantastic example of how catastrophe can shape the environment and produce something completely novel and remarkable.

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The Badger

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