The fascinating way spiders use their silk to “fly” through the air has been observed for hundreds of years, but just recently scientists understand that the the negatively charged silk pulls to the positively charged atmosphere allowing them to levitate.

Look, spiders are great. They’re an important part of the ecosystem and benefit humans by eating insects , including mosquitoes and agricultural pests . That said, many people are afraid of spiders, even the kinds that pose no risk to humans. To those people, please, don’t read any further. Because scientists have discovered more about a process that allows some spiders to “fly” without the aid of wings. According to a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology , spiders use natural electric fields to help them travel as far as hundreds of miles. The phenomenon of spiders seemingly floating for long distances isn’t new. Scientists have long observed spiders “ballooning,” meaning shooting out strands of silk and floating away into the air. But they have debated exactly how it works. A spider ballooning on a flower. “In the early 1800s, there were arguments that spiders might be using electric fields to balloon, but then there were also people arguing that it was wind,” Erica Morley, lead author of the new study, told PBS. “And the argument for wind won over probably because it’s more obvious.” But Morley’s work suggests […]

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