Fri, Sep 07, 2007 - Page 21 News List

Arachnophobe's nightmare 恐懼蜘蛛症患者的惡夢


Lake Tawakoni State Park rangers Mike McCord, left, and Freddie Gowin monitor a giant communal spider web near Willis Point, Texas, US.

Most spiders are solitary creatures , so the discovery in the US of a vast web crawling with millions of spiders that is spreading across several acres of a North Texas park is causing a stir among scientists and park visitors.

Sheets of web have encased several mature oak trees and are thick enough in places to block out the sun along a nature trail at Lake Tawakoni State Park, about 50 miles east of Dallas.

The gossamer strands, slowly overtaking a lakefront peninsula, emit a fetid odor, perhaps from the dead insects entwined in the silk. The web whines with the sound of countless mosquitoes and flies trapped in its folds.

Allen Dean, a spider expert at Texas A&M University, and several other scientists said they had never seen a web of this size outside of the tropics, where the relatively few species of "social" spiders that build communal webs are most active.

The web may be a combined effort of social cobweb spiders. But their large communal webs generally take years to build, experts say, and this web was formed in just a few months.

Or it could be a striking example of what is known as ballooning, in which lightweight spiders throw out silk filaments to ride the air currents.

The staff expects the web to last until colder weather this fall, when the spiders begin dying off.

For now the concern is to defend this marvel from teenagers who might take a stick and knock it all down, or little boys wanting to push their little sisters into it.

"We'll try to protect it, with what little staff we have," said Garde, the superintendent. "I'll use the web-of-life analogy. If you break one part of the web, it affects us all."  (NYT)


Out Loud 對話練習

Sally: Hey, fancy a stroll?

Simon: Where are you thinking of going?

Sally: I was thinking of checking out that huge web everyone is talking about.

Simon: Urgh! Count me out. I hate spiders.

Sally: Really? Okay, maybe it isn't for you then. See you later!






count me out 別算我

If you ask someone to count you out, then you don't want him or her to include you in his or her plans.











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