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Nature & You: This isn't a typical balloon fest

The light from the setting sun can reveal a glistening show as ballooning spiders lilt across a field. [Photo by Gudrun Keszoecze, Hirundo Wildlife Refuge]

The light from the setting sun can reveal a glistening show as ballooning spiders lilt across a field. [Photo by Gudrun Keszoecze, Hirundo Wildlife Refuge]

This isn't a typical balloon fest

Who wouldn't enjoy a vacation trip out west? In particular, there is a spectacular event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that features a lot of colorful hot air balloons.

Get out your pocketbook.

It is going to involve a serious outlay of coins to get you there and back.

Might I be so bold as to offer up an alternative suggestion? Consider a "staycation," instead. Right in your very own neighborhood you should be able to bear witness to an equally majestic ballooning event.

As you might now imagine, I am sort of pulling your leg. I am not talking about hot air balloons. Instead, I am making reference to the activities of very tiny spiders.

Go take a look for yourself.

Find a spot where you can watch the setting sun. If there is a natural area between you and the west, all the better. As the waning sun's golden rays backlight the features of the landscape, you might be rewarded with a view of hundreds ... nay, thousands! ... of silky threads wafting in the breeze.

These almost-invisible filaments are what remains of the activities of "ballooning" spiders. These creatures release a long piece of silk into Oklahoma's ever-present breeze, and they eventually let loose of their anchors and drift away to parts unknown. It is Mother Nature's way of dispersing spiders from one location to another.

Take a friend. Take a lawn chair. Take a tall glass of iced tea. Make a neighborhood party out of it. It is, after all, our community's version of a hot-air balloon festival.

It's a whale of a lot cheaper than going to New Mexico.

— Neil Garrison, NewsOK Contributor

Neil Garrison was the longtime naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center.

Neil Garrison

Neil Garrison is an outdoor nature enthusiast. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; he earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology. Prior to his 2009 retirement, he was the Naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center for 30... Read more ›

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