Southeastern Australia has been hammered by extreme weather in recent days giving rise to some seemingly “apocalyptic” scenes. In images and footage that would send any arachnophobe over the edge, spiders have been spotted crawling en masse up fences and walls as they try to escape rising floodwaters.

Melanie Williams, a resident in Macksville on the New South Wales’ mid-north coast, shared footage of thousands of spiders crawling on her neighbour’s garage as the rising water came within 50 centimetres of her backdoor.

"That was enough to really freak me out, I had never seen anything like it before," she told ABC News. "I occasionally see spiders around the place but never anything like that, it was just insane."

In a similar scene of arachno-abundance, Matt Lovenfosse arrived home on Monday morning to find millions of spiders coating a field on his property.

"It's amazing. It's crazy," he told Guardian Australia. "The spiders all crawled up on to the house, on to fences and whatever they can get on to."

Over at Penrith Weir in western Sydney, Shenae and Steve Varley found a railing that had become a spider sanctuary as the deluge soaked the ground below. And spiders were not the only species spotted racing for higher ground. "There were also skinks, ants, basically every insect, crickets - all just trying to get away from the flood waters,” Shenae Varley told Guardian Australia.

Australia has a reputation for harbouring all manner of dangerous creatures (in case you haven’t noticed) and armies of arachnids hardly help change that perception, but experts have assured locals that the spiders do not pose a significant threat. “These are native species trying to do their thing, trying to survive. The last thing that you want to do is get out the insecticide spray,” Dr Lizzy Lowe, an arachnologist at Cesar Australia told the Guardian.

The spiders form a vital part of the ecosystem and have always been there – they are just typically hiding out in a field rather than crawling up a garage door.

Elsewhere in the country, wildlife rescuers have been inundated with cases of animals either injured in the floodwaters or hurt in car strikes while trying to flee to higher ground. Locals have been urged to report any injured animals to local rescue groups who can assist.

As for the spiders, locals will have to learn to live with those for now.

For a closer examination of how wild species cope with extreme weather conditions take a look at this piece by Ethan Shaw:


Top header image: Victor Fazio, Flickr