Gossamer Threads

_ds86052Here’s something you don’t see very often, if at all. Gossamer threads at ground level. This image was taken on our short walk on the South Downs as seen in the previous post – click here to view.

My wife spotted these first – credit where credit’s due. Turning to look towards the sun, which was low in the sky, she spotted that the rough grass was covered in gossamer threads – hundreds upon hundreds of them. They appeared at right angles to the sun’s path, but probably were in many directions; but it was only when looking towards the sun that they were illuminated.

I don’t recall seeing this phenomenon before. I’m aware that spiders have the capacity to  ‘balloon’ or ‘kite’ through the air trailing threads between one bush and another;  and while  out walking in the early morning I have felt gossamer threads brush against my face or exposed arms as I have broken their trails. And I have seen the densely meshed carpets that spiders can weave  on shrubs and plants – commonly seen on dewy mornings. But I don’t recall threads just above ground level in this profusion, and in such cold weather.

A remarkable sight. Have you seen this phenomenon?

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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25 Responses to Gossamer Threads

  1. There is a first for everything ..What an amazing feature thank you for sharing with me ..

  2. Adrian Lewis says:

    Andy, I love the “silver road” of threads making up towards the fence, and that tree is “just where it should be”!!! I’ve never seen anything like this before. Adrian

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Adrian. I took a few shots, but realized it needed the inclusion of something to provide some kind of anchor – and this small tree was just right.

  3. shoreacres says:

    I have seen this, although not on the ground. Where I most often see it is on the rigging of sailboats. When the season for baby spiders arrives, they float off on silken threads, and hundreds (if not thousands) get caught on the rigging. When the light is right, it’s an amazing sight as the silken threads blow in the wind.

    Here’s another image of your phenomenon from National Geographic. How lucky you were to see it, and what a wonderful photo you captured. Since the babies generally are wind-born, it might be that these all were going in the same direction.

    • LensScaper says:

      That’s a fascinating link, Linda – thank you. The scenes from Tennessee are a little different but very dramatic. The strange thing is that we saw these threads in the middle of a very cold spell of weather (for us). What we don’t know (and never will know) is when these threads were spun or how long they last, once spun.

  4. oneowner says:

    Fascinating! I’ve never seen anything like this. It makes for a very nice shot, though.

  5. Sue says:

    Fantastic, never seen anything like it!

  6. Meanderer says:

    What a wonderful sight! I’ve seen some of these low-level threads before, but not so many.

  7. paula graham says:

    Well shot. They do happen at this time of the year…depends on the light if you see them.

  8. Excellent capture Andy – I bet this was a hard one to take, the light would have just had to have been on the right position to pick out the threads. Well spotted 🙂

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  10. Nice shot, Andy. Adrian’s right about that tree. I’ve never seen this.

  11. Chillbrook says:

    Wonderful image Andy!

  12. stadtauge says:

    excellent! interesting! beautiful!

  13. shoreacres says:

    I found this fascinating post about (spider?) silk on a site dedicated to Nebraska prairies. It certainly looks like the same phenomenon — or, at least, a close variant. I thought of this post immediately, and thought you’d be interested.

    • LensScaper says:

      That is a fascinating link Linda, and the image looks so similar to mine. The strands I saw covered a vast area but the silk was only visible when one looked directly into the sun, low in the sky. The vegetation was very close to the ground with no tall stalks, so if Spiders had ballooned which surely must be the case, then they had no option but to drop and fall to the ground when the breeze ebbed. But the numbers of insects involved must have been huge, and this is in winter too, which seems odd.

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