The record flooding in Pakistan in the latter half of 2010 disrupted the lives of 20 million people, but it also affected the country’s arachnid population.
With more than a fifth of the country flooded, millions of spiders climbed into trees to escape the rising floodwaters. The water took so long to recede, the trees became covered in a cocoon of spider webs. The result is a creepy, alien panorama, with any vegetation covered in a thick mass of webbing.
However, the strange phenomenon may be a blessing in disguise. Britain’s department for international development reports that areas where the spiders have scaled the trees have seen far fewer malaria-spreading mosquitoes than might be predictable, given the occurrence of stagnant, standing water.
The agency is providing aid to the communities affected by the disaster, with safe drinking water, health care, food and shelter. To decrease the population’s long-term dependence on that aid, the government agency is now offering wheat seeds and tools to farmers, and jobs and skills training for those in rural areas. However, reconstruction in the worst-hit areas is probable to take many years.