A Town In Greece Awoke To Discover This Eerie 980-Foot Phenomenon Cloaking The Coast

Image: GIANNIS GIANNAKOPOULOS via BBC

In a sleepy coastal town in the west of Greece, residents have awoken to a scene straight out of a horror movie. For almost 1,000 feet, a sinister veil has descended along the shore of the lagoon. But what has caused this bizarre phenomenon? Is it natural, or something from another world?

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From the tip of the remotest mountain to the bottom of the deepest sea trench, planet earth has many diverse and beautiful wonders up its sleeve. But although the landscapes of the world can often inspire wonder and awe, there are many corners of this planet where things get a little weird.

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But while we might expect the strange side of mother nature to rear its head at the bottom of the ocean or in the depths of the thickest forest, there are some places where it might catch us by surprise. For example, the picturesque town of Aitoliko in the Aetolia-Acarnania region of Greece.

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Image: Kostas Rossidis via Greece

With a town located an on island in the middle of two glass-like lagoons, Aitoliko is known by the locals as Little Venice. But unlike the famously spooky Italian town, this sun-drenched Greek island seems like the last place on earth that something strange and eerie might take place.

Image: Facebook/Giannis Giannakopoulos

However, in September 2018 pictures began emerging from the town that told a very different story. Apparently, residents of Aitoliko were being plagued by a singularly bizarre phenomenon. And that strange occurrence was the appearance of thousands of spiderwebs, scattered across the town like misplaced Halloween decorations.

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Image: GIANNIS GIANNAKOPOULOS via CNN

In fact, the webs stretched for almost 1,000 feet across the trees and plants that line the lagoon shore. Moreover, they were creeping over moored boats, covering the vessels in a sinister layer of gray silk. And perhaps most terrifying of all were the inhabitants – an invasion of tiny spiders, scuttling around their new dominion.

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Image: Facebook/Giannis Giannakopoulos

For photographer Giannis Giannakopoulos, the strange occurrence represented a unique opportunity to capture the town in a whole new light. “It’s natural for this area to have insects, no one is especially worried,” he said in a September 2018 interview with CNN. “But I have never seen any spider webs this big in my life.”

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Image: Facebook/Giannis Giannakopoulos

“A strange and unprecedented spectacle I saw tonight at Aitoliko,” Giannakopoulos wrote underneath a series of photographs of the webs on his Facebook page. “Nature has its own rules that, unfortunately, many times we ‘wise’ people outguess with the result that consequences are painful,” he warned ominously.

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But what had happened to turn Aitoliko into such a spider’s paradise almost overnight? According to Maria Chatzaki, a scientist who specializes in spiders, the blame lies with members of the Tetragnatha genus. This is a type of spider that typically reaches no longer than 0.7 inches in length.

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Image: Facebook/Giannis Giannakopoulos

Even under normal conditions, apparently, Tetragnatha spiders can spin vast webs that are home to thousands of the minuscule creatures. But in 2018 in Aitoliko, the phenomenon seemed to appear on a particularly large scale. And according to Fotis Pergantis, a Greek biologist and head of the nearby Messolonghi National Lagoon Park, the reason is simple.

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Apparently, Tetragnatha spiders love to eat gnats – and Aitoliko had no shortage of the flying insects during summer 2018. In fact, warmer than average temperatures have combined with the right humidity levels to create a fertile breeding ground for the critters, which are similar to mosquitoes.

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Image: Facebook/Giannis Giannakopoulos

“When these temperatures last long enough, we can see a second, third and fourth generation of the gnats and end up with large amounts of their populations,” Pergantis explained. And when the number of gnats zipping around Aitoliko increases, so too does the population of spiders that feed on them.

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Elsewhere, experts pointed to an increase in the mosquito population as responsible for the boom in Tetragnatha spiders in Aitoliko. “Obviously, [this] results from favorable conditions that have made it possible to create this over-population,” Chatzaki told the NewsIt website in September 2018.

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Image: GIANNIS GIANNAKOPOULOS via CNN

“The increase in the population of mosquitoes is certainly not irrelevant to this phenomenon,” Chatzaki continued. Meanwhile, she pointed out that similar occurrences have been observed before. “This is not the first time that it has happened,” she explained. “It is a seasonal phenomenon that occurs mainly at the end of the summer and early autumn.”

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Image: Facebook/Giannis Giannakopoulos

In fact, Chatzaki pointed out that she had previously observed the giant webs in 2003. This was in the Ilia region, some 100 miles south of Aitoliko. Moreover, she was quick to reassure both residents and visitors to the town that the webs were not dangerous – despite their somewhat spooky appearance.

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Image: Facebook/Giannis Giannakopoulos

“The spiders are taking advantage of these conditions and are having a kind of party,” the scientist explained. “They mate, reproduce and provide a whole new generation. These spiders are not dangerous for humans and will not cause any damage to the area’s flora. The spiders will have their party and will soon die.”

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Image: Facebook/Giannis Giannakopoulos

Apparently, Pergantis agrees. “It’s the simple prey-predator phenomenon,” he explained. “It’s the eco-system’s natural reaction and once the temperatures begin to drop and the gnat populations die out, the spider populations will decrease as well.” So, just how long can the residents of Aitoliko expect to be living in a horror movie?

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Image: Facebook/Giannis Giannakopoulos

At the moment, no one seems able to predict when the town’s arachnid residents might vacate the premises. But until they do, Aitoliko’s human population is preparing itself for an influx of visitors keen to see the phenomenon for themselves. And how do those spider-watchers know about it? Because Giannakopoulos’ photographs went viral online.

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Meanwhile, some observers have pointed out that this isn’t the first time huge spiderwebs have made the news. In fact, back in 2011, a photograph captured in Pakistan showed trees encased in a vast network of the structures as millions of arachnids sought safety from extreme flooding.

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Image: Facebook/Giannis Giannakopoulos

Similarly, in 2012, rising floodwaters caused thousands of giant wolf spiders to descend on Wagga Wagga in Australia. Indeed, entire properties were carpeted in their silvery webs. As in Pakistan and Greece, the effect was terrifying – although experts acknowledged that the creatures meant little harm to humans. Hopefully, the residents of Aitoliko can take solace in this as they wait for their own arachnid visitors to move on.

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