Spiders harness electricity to fly hundreds of miles

Spiders can position themselves at the end of twigs and leaves and use electrostatic repulsion to “balloon” through the air. ©Andy Reago and Chrissy McClarren

Scientists have long known that spiders can travel long distances by “ballooning.” They shoot strands of silk into the air and float away, sometimes for hundreds of miles. But exactly how they do it has been a mystery. Researchers at the University of Bristol think they have an explanation. The spiders sense the earth’s electric field, the Atlantic writes, using the negative charge of their silk to repel the negative charge of the earth and float away, often climbing to the end of twigs or leaves to maximize the effect.

Read the story in the Atlantic or ready the study in Current Biology.