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A 'spooky' web engulfs Texas park

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • August 30, 2007 - 8:41 PM

WILLS POINT, TEXAS - Most spiders are solitary creatures. So the discovery of a vast web crawling with millions of spiders at a park in Texas is causing a stir among scientists.

Sheets of web have encased several oak trees and are thick enough in places to block out the sun along a nature trail at Lake Tawakoni State Park, about 50 miles east of Dallas.

The gossamer strands emit a fetid odor, perhaps from the dead insects entwined in the silk. The web whines with the sound of countless mosquitoes and flies trapped in its folds.

Allen Dean, a spider expert at Texas A&M University, has seen a lot of webs, but even he described this one as "rather spooky."

Dean and several other scientists said they had never seen a web of this size outside of the tropics, where the relatively few species of "social" spiders that build communal webs are most active.

Norman Horner, emeritus professor of biology at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, was one of a number of spider experts to whom a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist sent online photos of the web. "It is amazing, absolutely amazing," said Horner, who at first thought it an e-mail hoax.

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