Web found in Hollister. Photo by Kathi Stirling-Morris.
Web found in Hollister. Photo by Kathi Stirling-Morris.

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On Oct. 4, people took to social media to report encounters with spider web-looking substances. 

Many residents of the Central Coast were posting pictures of what appeared to be spider webs, but John Banks of CSU-Monterey Bay, who has PhD in Zoology and studied insect and spider ecology, said it has yet to be determined if the substance is spider silk, though he believes it is. 

Residents have described the substance as “sticky” and “gooey.” Others on social media have said there is a chemical smell emitting from it.

Banks told BenitoLink it’s unclear where the spiders came from and why there are several possible explanations. 

He said there could have been a heavy hatch this year, which would then need to be followed by a large dispersal since resources would be slim. He also said spiders could have been disturbed through the working of farmland such as discing or plowing.

Since the substance has not yet been determined to be spider silk, the spider species has not been identified. He added it could be more than one species and that nobody has reported seeing any spiders. He suggested that is because once the balloon (the term for how the web moves through air) lands, the spider vacates.

The substance has been found throughout the Central Coast, as far north as San Jose and into the Central Valley. 

Banks said the ballooning is not uncommon in this area but that what is unusual is the amount of webs that have been seen. He added even though he does not know why it’s happening, that is part of the “fun and joy of the puzzle.”

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Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College and she reports on science and the environment....