Giant Spider Web in an East Texas State Park – 2007

check this video out. a massive colony that consisted of thousands of spiders got together and spun a monster web overnight that is as long as two football fields. watch this video and hear what the eyewitnesses have to say in this tiny town called wills point, 40 miles east of dallas.

Tetragnathid Jaw Closeup- Tetragnatha-

, N.I. 2007.The World Spider Catalog, Version 8.0. American Museum of Natural History, New York.

All Things Considered,August 31, 2007 Lake Tawakoni State Park in Texas has some new tenants: spiders lots of spiders. And theyve spun a giant communal web.

January 2008- Based on reports noted above,Mike Quinnconstructed the following Google map:

(This story was No.1 on the list of most emailed stories from that days edition of the New York Times, and it was the lead story in the Nation section of the print edition…)

Powers, K.S. & L. Avils. 2007.The role of prey size and abundance in the geographical distribution of spider sociality. Journal of Animal Ecology, 76(5): 9951003.

August 28, 2007-Robb Bennett, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, The Canadian Entomologist (pers. comm. Aug. 28, 2007)

A summary of the spider taxa and numbers collected is provided in Table 1. Samples contained 250 specimens in 12 families. The samples contained at least 16 identified genera.


Addendum: During the day, many male and female Tetragnathids — but mostly females — positioned themselves in orb webs made by the Araneids the night before.

Foelix, R.F. 1996.Biology of spiders, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press, New York. 336 pp.356-359.

Per photos, the dominant spider is a member of the family Tetragnathidae (Long-jawed Orb Weavers)

Roth, V.D. 1994. Spider Genera of North America, with Keys to Families and Genera and a Guide to Literature. 3rd ed. American Arachnological Society, Gainesville. 203 pp.

Sure, there were reports of similar webs every few years during the Clinton Administrations, Jackman added, but we always dismissed these as fairy-tales.

Burgess, J.W., & G.W. Uetz, 1982. Social spacing strategies in spiders. Pp. 319-351in: P.N. Witt, & J.S. Rovner. 1982. Spider Communication, Mechanisms and Ecological Significance.Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J. 440 pp.

Although apparently not previously recorded in Canada, large-scale autumnal migrations of erigonine spiders have attracted considerable attention elsewhere. Similar events have been described from a wise variety of north and south temperate locations including the United States, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, Greenland [!], Argentina, and Australia. (Bennett2003)

Its like the movieArachnophobiacame to life, and its right here in East Texas.

, R. 2003. Mass dispersal of erigonine spiders from a clover field in British Columbia, Canada. Newsletter of the British Arachnological Society, 97: 2-3.

September 1-3, 2007 -3,000 visitors came to theLake Tawakoni State Parkspecifically to see the spider web over Labor Day Weekend!

This is not the work of just one ugly little spider, Jackman said today.

Breene, R.G., D.A. Dean, M. Nyffeler & G.B. Edwards. 1993. Biology, Predation Ecology, and Significance of Spiders in Texas Cotton Ecosystems with a Key to Species. Texas Agriculture Experiment Station, College Station, 115 pp.

Dabrowska-Prot, E., J. Luczak, & K. Tarwid.1968a. Prey and predator density and their reactions in the process of mosquito reduction by spiders in field experiments. Ekologiya Polska. Seria A16: 773-819.

, H.W. 1981. The American orb-weaver generaDolichognathaandTetragnathanorth of Mexico (Araneae: Araneidae, Tetragnathinae). Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, 149(5): 271-318.

Best comment posted by Stacyj ,September 13, 2007 8:29 AM:

———————————— Reveals 2007s Most Popular Stories

Gillespie, R.G. 1987.The mechanism of habitat selection in the long-jawed orb-weaving spiderTetragnatha elongata(Araneae, Araneidae). Journal of Arachnology, 15: 81-90.


Mike Quinn, Invertebrate Biologist,Texas Parks & WildlifeAustin, TX

In a 365 day period 3400 ballooning spiders belonging to 14 families were collected in a suction trap. The four most common ballooning families were Erigonidae, Thomisidae, Oxyopidae, and Tetragnathidae. These four families make of 77% of the total. Peak periods of spider aerial dispersal occurred during early spring through early summer and late summer through fall.

A Preliminary List of the Spiders Collected from a Giant Web at Lake Tawakoni, Texas

August 15, 2007 (Donna Garde) [pronounced like guard]

Borror, D.J. 1960. Dictionary of Word Roots and Combining Forms. National Press Books, Palo Alto. 134 pp.



Tetragnatha versicolorWalckenaer, 1842

Norman Horner, Biology Professor and Spider Authority,Midwestern State UniversityWichita Falls, TX

, D.A. 2007.Catalogue of Texas Spiders. Texas A&M University, College Station.

Dean, D.A. & W.L. Sterling. 1990. Seasonal patterns of spiders captured in suction traps in eastern Texas. Southwestern Entomologist, 15: 399-412.

NPR : Even Spiders Know Everythings Bigger in Texas(04:53)

Thousands of spiders worked together to build huge web

(Interview ofTexas Parks & Wildlifepark staff Freddie Gowin and Donna Garde, plus park visitors.)

October1, 2007- A second large spider web was reported atWind Point Park, locatedon the north side of Lake TawakonibyPam Rousseau, a park employee. The web was first noticed about three weeks ago. Its now covering parts of 10 trees and is still growing. Photos sent to Mike Quinn show a very fresh web engulfing multiple trees.


Buskirk, R.E. 1981. Sociality in the Arachnids. Pp. 281-367in: H.R. Hermann (editor). Social insects. Vol. III. Academic Press, New York. 437 pp. [Review]

October 17, 2007-Jim Swiftof aired a piece on Joe Lapp and the spider web on Starnes Island.

, J.A. 1997.A Field Guide to the Spiders and Scorpions of Texas. Gulf Publishing Co., Houston. 201 pp. To order call: .

Tetragnathawith captured male Dusky Dancer (Argia translata)- Greg Lasley

Tetragnatha vermiformisEmerton, 1884

(This photograph has since been reproducedmany timesaround the world. Note: shot with a wide angle lens so perspective is distorted.)

Buskirk, R.E. 1975. Aggressive display and orb defense in a colonial spider,Metabus gravidus. Animal Behavior 23(2): 560-567.

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, near this town about 50 miles east of Dallas.

Hank Guarisco, Adjunct Curator of Arachnids,Sternberg Museum of Natural HistoryFort Hays State UniversityHays, Kansas


200 yard spider web found in Lake Tawakoni State Park, East Texas

Donna Garde, Park Superintendent,Texas Parks & WildlifeLake Tawakoni State ParkWills Point, TX

August 15, 2007 -Donna Garde,Lake Tawakoni State ParkSuperintendent, took the followingphoto.


September 4, 2007- Norman Horner,Midwestern State UniversityWichita Falls, TX (pers. comm., Sept. 2007):

…it would not surprise me if this is the result ofanother mass dispersal event(rather than the result of theridiid communal activity). The web page states that the web only appeared recently – in my experience communal spider webs take a considerable time to achieve this sort of size. I have seen dictynid and theridiid communal webs achieving this magnitude (and greater) and morphology but those webs were all long established. Araneid communal webs can be huge, too, but of course of different morphology and, similarly, take a long time to achieve great size.


October 18, 2007-Large spider web reported at Arkansas BendParkGoogle map to park southeast of Lago Vista, TX. LCRA calls this323-acre park lies on the north shore of Lake Travisone of the most isolated and untouched parks in Travis County.

Buskirk, R.E. 1975.Coloniality, activity patterns and feeding in a tropical orb-weaving spider. Ecology, 56(6): 1314-1328.

, J.T. & N.V. Horner. 1977.Aerial Dispersion of Spiders in North Central Texas. Journal of Arachnology, 5(2): 153-157. (fullHTML)

Guarisco, H. 2005.Checklist of Kansas Orbweaving Spiders. The Kansas School Naturalist, 52(2): 1-16.

Wikinews, the free news source you can write!

Whitehouse, M.E.A. & Y. Lubin. 2005.The functions of societies and the evolution of group living: spider societies as a test case. Biological Reviews, 80(3): 347361.

August 28, 2007-Dr. Ingi Agnarsson, University of Akron, OH (pers. comm., Aug. 28, 2007)

October 3, 2007- Two more sizable webs were located atWind Point Parknear the lake.

Habitat: On vegetation near water (Levi 1981)

There are 15 species (in six genera) in the family Tetragnathidae in Texas (Dean, 2007).

LAKE TAWAKONI STATE PARK, Texas – Texans like to say everything in their state is bigger. They can now add spider webs to that list.

Coddington, J.A. & H.W. Levi. 1991.Systematics and evolution of spiders (Araneae). Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 22: 565592.

Colossal spider web gets worldwide attention

A Tangled Web: Massive Spider Web At Lake Tawakoni State Park

Credit: Donna Garde, Texas Parks & Wildlife

Rypstra, A.L. 1986. High prey abundance and a reduction in cannibalism: The first step to sociality (Arachnida). The Journal of Arachnology, 14: 193-200.

It is the work of millions of small ones who have been spinning away such a whoppoing great big scam that it defies all logic, all comprehension and all the rules of criminal justice.

Burgess, J.W. 1978. Social behavior in group-living spider species.Symposia of the Zoological Society of London. 42: 69-78.

September 2, 2007-David Richman, Professor and Curator of the Arthropod Museum, Dept. of Entomology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM,posted the following reply on Sept 2to Joe Lapps Aug. 31 report.

FORT WORTH, Texas — covered hundreds of memorable stories in 2007, but five stories –which range from hard news to entertainment, with a dash of weird news in between — clicked the most with viewers.

(Park Superintendent Donna Garde discusses web in background)

Biography:Octavius Pickard-Cambridge(1828 – 1917) was an English clergyman and zoologist – Wikipedia

Giant Spider Web Spins The Heads Of Experts

Disconsolate over the discovery of his hidden lair, Spider-man can only sit and brood.

A massive spider web captured so many viewer clicks it comes in as NBC5i.coms No. 5 most popular story of 2007. The two giant spider webs that formed at Lake Tawakoni drew worldwide attention in October. The spider webs covered hundreds of feet and were the collaboration of possibly thousands of spiders, experts said.

I visited Lake Tawakoni again, this time better armed with still cameras and a video camera. I arrived Wednesday 9/19 at about noon, left about 30 hours later, and spent about half of that time observing the spiders. I dont know what the spiders are doing from midnight to 6am, but I got a sense of things for the remaining hours. (Full report)

WILLS POINT, Tex., Aug. 29 Most spiders are solitary creatures. So the discovery 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.

By Mike Chang on Sept 2, 2007 in ScienceMode

Several hundred yards along a nature trail have been taken over by the elaborate arachnid construction. Webs stretch from tree to tree and down to the ground.

Donna Garde, the superintendent of the park, talks with Melissa Block.

David Tidgwell sent thislink to photos he shot of a similar eventhe photographed inAnthony C Beilenson Park, Encino, (Los Angeles), California in February 2005. They completely enshroudedat least 200m of trees along a stream.Approximatelyeight Tetragnathids can be seen in this enlarged image.

Joe Lapp, Spider Enthusiast,Austin, TX –

Brian Thair of the College of New Caledonia in Prince George said he saw asilky, white web stretching 60 acres across a field. [It was first spotted in the week of Oct. 27.]

A monster web of deceit has been discovered surrounding the Predator Chapel Ranch home of George W Bush according to Texas A&M University entomologist Professor John Jackman.

Hohmann (pers. comm., Sept 11, 2007): The spider web follow up that ran today is the most visited story on the web site today, again. People at the office are even talking about it around the water cooler, still weeks later.

There are 10 species in the genusTetragnathain Texas (Dean, 2007).

[This report was picked up byScientific]

Man, I would -love- to see that (and wow, I had no idea that there were such things as pirate spidarrrrrs! The universe gets more delightful by the day!)

Experts: Mass web made by spiders living in harmony

Allen Dean, Research Assistant, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M UniversityCollege Station, TX

Tetragnathareleasing silk from two spinnerets- BugGuide.Net

Mansour, F., J.W. Ross, G.B. Edwards, W.H. Whitcomb & D.B. Richman. 1982.Spiders of Florida citrus groves. Florida Entomologist 65(4): 514-522.

I agree. I am excited about the possibility of this being a social spider, but it doesnt make any sense asA. studiosusand if the web is recent it is much more likely to be the remains of an erigonine dispersal event. Will be fun to find out though…


August 31, 2007- David Tidgwell sent thislink to photos he shot of a similar eventinAnthony C Beilenson Park, Encino, (Los Angeles), California in February 2005. They completely enshroudedat least 200m of trees along a stream.Approximatelyeight Tetragnathids can be seen in this enlarged image.


: Nova Scotia, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, southern California, south to Panama, Cuba, Jamaica. (Levi 1981)

, M .H., C.E. Morgan & A.-L. Hultsh. 1987.Ballooning spiders in Missouri, USA, and Ballooning Spiders in Missouri, USA, and New South Wales, Australia: Family and Mass Distributions. Journal of Arachnology, 15: 163-170. [fullPDFHTML]

(Interview ofTPWpark staff Freddie Gowin and Donna Garde, plus park visitors.)

October 28, 2007 -Joe Lappwas interviewed by Suzanne Dragan, Host Animal Talk 1450AmWCTC, New Brunswick, NJ

This web was first found by park staff on August 6, 2007, after an approximate two week absence of walking the trail.

Almost all tetragnathids were making loose, messy, atypical webs like this.

TypicalTetragnathaorb web full of midges- BugGuide.Net

The spiders sampled included 151 Tetragnathidae, 46 Salticidae, and 19 Araneidae. These three families represented 60.0 %, 18.4 %, and 7.6 % of the spiders in the samples respectively. These three spider families accounted for 86 % of the spiders collected.

Dabrowska-Prot, E., J. Luczak, and K. Tarwid.1968b. The predation of spiders on forest mosquitoes in field experiments. Journal of Medical Entomology, 5: 252-256.

, N.V. 1974.Annual Aerial Dispersal of Jumping Spiders in Oklahoma (Araneae, Salticidae). Journal of Arachnology, 2(2): 101-105.

I have observed a similar aggregation ofTetragnathaatNewnans Lakein Alachua County, Florida. Perhaps not as big, but certainly impressive, the web consisted of thousands ofTetragnathawebs literally stacked one upon the other. … The situation was [near(?)] a huge midge (Chironomidae) emergence. [Links added by MAQ]

Cambridge, O. P.-. 1889. Arachnida. Araneida.In: Biologia Centrali-Americana, Zoology. London, 1: 1-56. [Tetragnathaplate]

September 22, 2007 -Joe Lapp,Lake Tawakoni 9/19 trip report

Tetragnathaline drawing showing jaws and eye pattern

Guatemala – Country were spider was first discovered

, M.H. 1975.Spiders in Florida citrus groves. Florida Entomologist, 58: 83-90.

Etymology:Tetragnatha guatemalensisO. P.-Cambridge

byJohn A. JackmanAllen DeanMike Quinn

Total length of males: 5.2 to 10.2 mm

Got Arachnophobia? Heres Your Worst Nightmare

See a close-up view of the spider web

(Interview of Mike Quinn, invertebrate biologist,TPW)

Total length of females: 5.4 to 11.5 mm (Levi 1981)

Buskirk, R.E. 1986.Orb-weaving spiders in aggregations modify individual web structure. Journal of Arachnology, 14: 259-265.

Luczak, J. 1970. Behavior of a spider population in the presence of mosquitoes.Ekologiya Polska, 18: 625-634.

Texas spiders monstrous webs baffle scientists

Tetragnathain typical resting posture- BugGuide.Net

Huge Spider Web Attracting the Curious in Texas


A massive spider web has spread over a large area at Lake Tawakoni State Park, drawing visitors, and international attention, to the area. (August 31, 2007) Video and editing by Darrell Byers

August 24, 2007- Donna Gardesphotowas sent toMike Quinn, invertebrate biologist,Texas Parks & Wildlifeand to a number of arachnologists. Initial speculation was that the massive web belonged to a social spider, probablyAnelosimus studiosus, family Theridiidae. The email with with photos of the Lake Tawakoni web also included a photo of two Long-jawed Orb Weaver spiders, family Tetragnathidae, but these were considered to be incidental or minor contributors to the massive web as tetragnathids normally make orb webs which were not apparent in the photos of the giant web.

Tetragnatha guatemalensisO. P.-Cambridge, 1889

Gertsch, W.J. 1979. American Spiders. 2nd Ed. Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY.

Tetragnatha versicolor- mating- American Museum of Natural History

An arachnaphobes worst nightmare, the gauzy, insect-laden web drew more than 3,300 curious visitors over the three-day holiday to this 376-acre park on the shore of Lake Tawakoni, 50 miles east of Dallas. On Labor Day, the park recorded 1,275 people visiting just to see the web.

September 6, 2007 -Hank Guarisco, Adjunct Curator of Arachnids,Sternberg Museum of Natural HistoryFort Hays State University

See his journal documenting all the large lake-side spider webs of Texas

Aiken, M. & F.A. Coyle. 2000.Habitat distribution, life history and behavior ofTetragnathaspider species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Journal of Arachnology 28: 97106.

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. -A biology professor [since retired] in northern British Columbia has spotted a clover field crawling with spiders.

When you see horror movies with spider web festooned from this place to that place and so on, it comes nowhere near approaching what occurred in this field, Thair told CBC RadiosAs It Happens.

August 29, 2007 – Bill Hanna at the Fort Worth Star Telegrambroke the story

Millions of spiders spin web spanning 200 yards in Texas

06, 2007- Web found byTexas Parks & Wildlifeemployee Freddie Gowin while mowing the trails atLake Tawakoni State Park.

There were many other spiders in the webs. In order of how common they appeared to be, most common first, I saw Tetragnathids, Salticids, Theridiids (Argyrodessp.), Araneids, Agelenids, and Lycosids. We even had one Mimetid (pirate/cannibal spider). (Joe Lapp,Tawakoni visit report posted to TX-Ento, 2 Sep 2007)


August 31, 2007- Joe Lapp (a.k.a.Spider Joe) and Mike Quinn visitedLake Tawakoni State Park. We shot some video and stills. I collected a large sample of spiders with a beat sheet (example).

John A. Jackman, Professor and Extension Entomology Specialist, Texas A&M UniversityCollege Station, TX

There are currently 989 species of spiders (in 52 families) known from Texas (Dean, 2007).

The thin, elastic coasting was not soft and fluffy like webs built by individual spiders. There were about two spiders per square centimetre laying the silk, which first appeared in early October.

Jackman, J.A., A. Dean, M. Quinn. 2007. Spiders from a large web at Lake Tawakoni, Texas. Southwestern Entomologist 32(4): 195-202.


September 2, 2007-Allen Deanreported (pers. comm., Sept. 2007) that he identified 11 spider families from the sample I collected Aug. 31. The most common families from the sample were Tetragnathidae, Salticidae, Theridiidae and Araneidae with relatively few representatives from the remaining eight spider families. There were no Linyphiidae spiders, nor anyAnelosimussocial spiders.The most abundant spider wasTetragnatha guatemalensisO. P.-Cambridge. A report will be issued shortly by John Jackman and Allen Dean.Draft spider list.

Tetragnatha elongataWalckenaer, 1842

Kaston, B.J. 1978. How to Know the Spiders. 3rd Ed. Wm. Brown Co., Dubuque, Iowa.

Sprawling Spider Web Engulfs North Texas Trail

Giant spider web threatens Lake Tawakoni visitors

(Interviews of Donna Garde, Mike Quinn)

So far, we have been informed about webs of this nature occurring in Florida, California, Canada, Italy, Ohio and now Texas. In all cases they appear to have been produced by tetragnathids (long-jawed orb weavers), but have other spiders associated with them.

Tetragnatha guatemalensis- (large) -Jeff Hollenbeck

Lake Tawakoni State Park rangers Mike McCord, left, and Freddie Gowin monitor the growth of a giant communal spider web at the park Tuesday. The web, rare for Texas, has formed over the past several weeks.

The following people (in alphabetical order) are well versed in the giant spider web at Lake Tawakoni:

Levi, H. & L. Levi 1990. Golden Guide to Spiders & Their Kin. Golden Press, NY.

October 4, 2007-Joe Lappconfirmed that there is a large tetragnathid dominated spider web onStarnes Islandin Lake Travis!

The Spoof (satire), UK – Aug 31, 2007

Monster web spun around Predator Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas

A typical barbwire fence on wood posts surrounded the field about six kilometres east ofMcBridein the Robson Valley. Thair said it looked like the whole area was covered with an opaque, white plastic grocery store bag.

Closer the the Tawakoni SP nest,Salmon & Horner(1977) studied the aerial dispersal of spiders collected in a suction trap located on the roof of the Science Building atMidwestern State UniversityWichita Falls, in north central Texas.

Greene, A., J.A. Coddington, N.L. Breisch, D.M. De Roche, and B.B. Pagac, Jr.. 2010.An Immense Concentration of Orb-Weaving Spiders With Communal Webbing in a Man-Made Structural Habitat (Arachnida: Araneae: Tetragnathidae, Araneidae). American Entomologist 56(3): 146-156.

I have been here for several days and am making some very interesting observations. … The [Tetragnatha] females are actively building webs at night, and the males wander around. They are often only 1-3 inches apart. … I recognizedNeoscona crucifera(only a few),Larinioides cornutus,Phidippus audax, Agelenopsisand probablyBarronopsis texana, Argyrodes elevatusand their distinctive egg sacs,Paraphidippus aurantius, Eris militaris,oneArgiope aurantia.There are manyLarinioidesthat come out at night and build webs over everything. … Deep inside, there isAnelosimus studiosus, but not as obvious or common as I originally suspected.

Tetragnatha guatemalensisO. P.-Cambridge, 1889- The Nearctic Spider Database

1, 2007- Mike Quinn drove the spiders he collected on Aug. 31 to Texas A&M University,College Stationand turned them over toAllen Dean, andJohn Jackmanfor identification. The specimens will be curated in theTexas A&M University Insect Collection.

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.

Just as a gigantic web that drew worldwide attention wanes, another one is forming on the opposite side of Lake Tawakoni.

Thair said the web showed great tensile strength enough to put a handful of coins on it without them falling through.

There were in the order of tens of millions of spiders running frantically back and forth. snip

Tetragnatha pallescensF. O. P.-Cambridge, 1903

From the OMG! files. By John P. Meyer September 2, 2007

Ubick, D., P. Paquin, P.E. Cushing & V. Roth (editors). 2005.Spiders of North America: an Identification ManualAmerican Arachnological Society. 377 pp

This web and two other smaller versions are on the parks large northeastern peninsula jutting out into the lake.


This massive spider web proved not to be from social spiders, but rather sheet weaver spiders of the family Linyphiidae undergoing a large-scale autumnal migration.Bennett(2003) reported critical examination of over 250 of the specimens revealed that all but one are adult erigonine linyphiids and the great majority areHalorates ksenia(Crosby & Bishop), listed asCollinsia ksenius(Crosby & Bishop) byPlatnick(2002).

One of the most common Long-jawed spiders in Texas isTetragnatha laboriosawhose reproductive capabilities and ability to disperse by ballooning are remarkable. (Jackman1997) Remarkable indeed…


Gillespie, R.G. 1987. The role of prey availability in aggregative behavior of the orb weaving spiderTetragnatha elongata. Animal Behaviour, 35: 675-681.

Joe Lapp and Hank Guarisco were conducting a second survey of the first web at Lake Tawakoni State Park when they received work of the second web at Wind Point Park. They drove to the new web and reported (pers. comm., Oct. 2007) finding mostly Long-jawed Spiders, but also large numbers of Social Spiders,Anelosimus studiosus.(ID yet to be confirmed.)

Aug. 30 – Bill Hanna – Star-Telegram staff writer

also maintains a photo- and information-rich website



(This was the fav of the park staff)


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