On October 8, 1969, residents of St. Louis, Missouri (USA) were amazed by light, wispy
threads falling from the sky. Some were worried that a plane had exploded or a flying
saucer had finally arrived on earth. Some even thought it was a sign from the heavens.
This was not the first time that such an event occurred. More than two hundred years
ago, in September of 1741, Selbourne, England, woke up to find its fields draped in
cobwebs-like strands. One witness thought it looked like nets drawn over one another.
Hunting dogs were blinded by the substance and had to lie down to scrape it off their
faces. Then in 1892, in Gainesville, Florida, white sheets resembling white spider webs,
some more than fifty yards long, drifted down from the sky.
Apparently, “angel hair” is created by a type of balloon spider that catches updrafts
to migrate. (Charlotte’s Web, anyone?) To do this, they weave a globule of liquid silk
from its abdomen, spinning it out many feet. As the wind catches the thread, the spider
is lifted into the air and carried for miles. After landing, it releases the thread,
which drifts away. When a large number of spiders do this at once, the air can become
full of the discarded weavings.