Mass of web protects crawlies

SURPRISE: This mass of web was about the size of two basketballs.

SURPRISE: This mass of web was about the size of two basketballs.

On a recent foggy morning a branch on a gorse bush was covered in this dense white web. It was about the size of two basketballs. What created such a mass of web overnight?

D.H., Cambrian Hill.

This is the web of tiny creatures called gorse spider mites. Its visibility has been accentuated by moisture from fog.

The web is not as easy to see when dry, which could explain its apparent overnight appearance. Fresh web is sometimes prominent without moisture.

The gorse spider-mite is a relatively recent introduction, brought in as a biological control for gorse. It sucks the sap from the plants, weakening them but seldom killing them. Spider mites are tiny reddish creatures. They always live in colonies, making their web for protection.

  • Questions and photos are welcome. Send to Roger Thomas at The Courier, PO Box 21, Ballarat, 3353, or email to rthomas@vic.australis.com.au