WAGGA WAGGA, Australia —
After major flooding in eastern Australia, thousands and thousands of spiders -- perhaps millions -- fled up sticks and bushes and re-spun their webs en masse across the town of Wagga Wagga, making it look like it's sleeping under a thick white blanket.
The tiny spiders, which are up to one centimeter long, belong to the Linyphiidae family
They are commonly referred to as sheet weavers because of the shape of their webs, or money spiders because of the superstition they bring good fortune if they land on you.
In their quest to move to safer or better ground, the spiders let out individual strings of silk that catch the wind, lifting them up into the air and away.
"The behaviour is called ballooning -- that is how they disperse," Graham Milledge, entomology collections manager at the Australian Museum in Sydney, said.
Flood events typically trigger mass ballooning events.
"They often do it as a way of dispersing and getting into a new area but, in an event like this, they are just trying to escape the floods," Milledge said. "They often land in the same place and that is why you get this large mass of them."