Gigantic Spider Webs Take Over A Jerusalem Forest

By: Tom Hale/IFL Science  Welcome to hell, arachnophobes.

Although this might look like the set of Mirkwood in The Hobbit, or Aragog’s lair in Harry Potter’s the Forbidden Forest, it is actually the Soreq creek in Israel, not far from Jerusalem. As Reuters reports this week, this canopy of the forest has become the unlikely home for millions of long-jawed spiders (Tetragnatha), a family of spiders found near bodies of water throughout the world. This phenomenon is rarely found in the Middle East, though.

In case you thought their citadels of webbing were scary enough, these long-jawed orb-weaving spiders are known to be able to walk on water. You can also recognize them by their distinctive thin bodies and their very long 5-centimeter (1.9-inch) legs.

This secluded forested area has become a haven for spiders because it’s situated near a sewage plant. The treated water leaving the plant is rich in nutrients that are ideal for mosquitos. In turn, this means there’s plenty of meals flying around for the spiders to catch. The vast blanket of whispy spider webs might make your skin crawl and break out into a cold sweat, however, this place is heaven for scientists studying arachnids.

“It’s an exceptional case,” Igor Armicach, a doctoral student at Hebrew University’s Arachnid Collection, told Reuters.

But Armicach says their time here is limited. Winter is coming, as they say, bringing in colder temperatures that will kill off the mosquito population. As their primary source of food, this will make life very hard for the spiders and their web empire.

Every summer, the spiders’ mate and the female will lay eggs before she dies. The young spiders hatch the following spring where, all being well, the cycle continues.

You can check out more creep crawly-inducing photos of the epic webs here.

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