Arachnophobe's nightmare 恐懼蜘蛛症患者的惡夢

NYT

Fri, Sep 07, 2007 - Page 21

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)

大多數蜘蛛都是獨居的生物。因此,美國德州北部一座公園內出現綿延數英畝的廣大蜘蛛網,上頭爬行著上百萬隻蜘蛛的奇景,引起科學家與遊園民眾的議論紛紛。

沿著達拉斯東邊五十哩的塔瓦科尼湖州立公園內的自然步道,層層的蜘蛛網已經包覆了許多成年橡樹,某些地方的蜘蛛網厚度已達到可以遮蔽陽光的地步。

日積月累地盤據半島上湖濱地帶的蜘蛛絲散發出惡臭,可能是蜘蛛絲上昆蟲遺體腐化所致。蜘蛛網內發出無數隻被困在蜘蛛絲間的蚊子與蒼蠅所發出來的聲音。

德州農工大學專研蜘蛛的昆蟲學家艾倫.狄恩與其他好幾位昆蟲學家說,他們從未在熱帶以外的地區見過這麼巨大的蜘蛛網,因為在熱帶地區,有少數「群居」蜘蛛合力建造大蜘蛛網,這種蜘蛛品種是最活躍的一群。

巨型蜘蛛網可能是由群居的蜘蛛共同織造成。專家指出,這般大的蜘蛛網,一般來說要花上好幾年的時間才能形成,不過此巨型蜘蛛網在數個月內就形成了。

這也可能是膨脹因素的罕見的例子,讓輕巧的蜘蛛們乘著氣流吐細絲。

工作人員預估此巨型蜘蛛網會持續存在到今年秋涼之際,屆時之後蜘蛛會陸續死亡。

目前的要務是,預防此奇景遭到青少年用棍棒拍打,或是小男孩刻意將他們的妹妹推進蜘蛛網內的破壞。

公園管理員嘉爾德說:「我們將以有限的人力保護它,」他並說:「我會用生命網絡來比喻,亦即,如果你破壞網絡的一部份,會連帶波及到整個網絡。」

(紐約時報╱翻譯:林亞蒂)