Great news for spider lovers! Due to the increasing density of Australia’s cities, spiders on the continent known for upsetting and deadly wildlife are getting even BIGGER than they already are! Even more exciting, this same phenomenon could be affecting other populous cities. Yay.
University of Sydney’s Elizabeth Lowe became interested in this phenomenon when she noticed that the (non-poisonous) golden orb-weavers she saw around Sydney were bigger than usual. Lowe discovered this disconcerting fact was connected to the growth of the city itself:
Examining more than 200 specimens around Sydney, they found that the more concrete there was, the further they were from bushland and the less leaf litter there was, the bigger the spiders tended to be. Lowe says the spiders in the bushland of Brisbane Water National Park, north of Sydney, had an average mass of 0.5 grams. But those in an inner-city park near Bondi Beach averaged 1.6 grams.
Lowe told the New Scientist that the insects were most likely larger due to higher temperatures in the city. “Most invertebrates will grow to larger sizes if they are warmer. They are very sensitive to temperatures,” she said. The lighting in cities at night also helps the spiders grow. “The spiders have more to prey on and can put more energy into growing bigger.”
On a happier note, Lowe also found that there were more of the swelling spiders in richer areas of the city. She hypothesizes that this might be due to more parks and concrete surfaces. Perhaps these proletarian spiders’ real plan is to overthrow the wealthy and distribute their wealth to the poor. I, for one, welcome our new oversized arachnid overlords. (Photo: Wikipedia)