The Giant Spider Web at Lake Tawakoni

There is a giant spider web at Lake Tawakoni State Park in Texas. The web was found in August by Texas Parks & Wildlife employee Freddie Gowin while mowing the trails at Lake Tawakoni State Park. The web sparked interest from experts and bloggers when Donna Garde, Lake Tawakoni State Park Superintendent, posted her photo of the web -- click here to see a larger version of the web photo. Wired says that thousands of spiders from 12 different species have built the web that reaches 200 yards.
Normally, the spiders are competitors and enemies, and work individually on their own orb-shaped webs. But entomologists say that bountiful insect hatches caused by heavy rainfall have provided so much food that the spiders instinctively repressed their traditional enmities in favor of cooperation. It's a population-level evolutionary behavior that's never before been witnessed (and thank goodness for that; spiders are scary enough on their own!)

The web, first reported earlier in the summer, took more than a month to build; it's been blown down three times by wind and rain, and re-spun each time. Visitors describe the web as something out of science fiction.

Said a park volunteer, "Hollywood couldn't have done as good a job in their best day as nature has done with this."
In the movie Arachnophobia a new species of spiders was discovered in South America that operates more like organized army ants and killer bees than solitary spiders. Fortunately, these Lake Tawakoni spiders are neither poisonous or very scary.

This website provides a great timeline of the social spider web. This webpage contains a list of the spiders collected from the Lake Tawakoni web. And some more informaton about social spiders and links to more webs can be found here. More coverage of the spider web in articles and blog posts can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Here's a video clip of the web.


Direct video link

Posted on October 1, 2007

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