FACT: Throughout March 2011, there was an unfortunate incident in Pakistan. Devastating flooding that at some points meant that one fifth of the whole country was covered with water. Amongst the many, many lives it affected an indelible mark has been left, many however can continue their lives on normally.
Fortunately it gave rise to a never-before-seen phenomenon, one which saves lives.
Cobwebbed copses, a copse being a small group of trees, of course. In layman’s terms, across Pakistan there were hundreds of trees completely encased by the fine gossamer webs spun by the millions of arachnids resting in their boughs.
The cause of this was obvious, flooding. Floods involve water, and spiders hate water (see the ‘Incey Wincey Spider‘ for confirmation). So to flee the high waters almost every single spider clambered up the nearest tree. The number of spiders was so great in fact that when the time came for the spiders to make their cobwebs, the sheer number of webs wrapped each tree in its own respective ethereal veil, or cocoon. An effect never before seen, even by the Pakistani Elders.
Saving lives. How do they do that? Well I did mention that earlier. Firstly to downsides; the flood left a lot of surface water in many areas of Pakistan, water that had the chance to warm and stagnate, making it the perfect breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes. So what one normally sees after floods in poorer countries is a sharp rise in oft-fatal malaria cases. However not so with this flood.
The areas with the most ‘cocooned‘ trees have actually reported below average cases of malaria. This is in part because all of the spiders on the ground were making cobwebs which never caught mosquitoes, but now their webs are in the air, which happens to be the same thing that mosquitoes fly through, so more mosquitoes are caught.
This rare and spooky phenomenon is a wonder to behold and to those in Pakistan,a small blessing but a blessing none-the-less. Evidence that nature in dangerous as well as kind, all whilst being simultaneously unpredictable. Who knows, with floods becoming more common with every passing year (because of that global warming thing), cobwebbed copses may soon pepper every landscape like little flecks of earth dandruff across the world.
Watch out then, the tress may be coming to you soon. Will you welcome them?