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The Buzz

Fake Spider Webs Are A Real Fright For Wildlife




(Photo via Shutterstock)

Talk about the tangled webs we weave. Those fake spider webs that give your house a creepy Halloween feel are even scarier than you might think for wildlife, because they can be a literal death trap. 

Much like real spider webs trap insects, those fake ones do too. And it's not just teeny, tiny insects that can get caught in the sticky strings. Birds can get entangled in the fake webs, and so can any small animals that are not strong enough to break free, Treehugger reports.

When an insect gets stuck in a real spider web, it's a normal part of the food chains that exist in the ecosystem. Spiders rely on insects as a food source, so they build webs to ensnare them. Those fake spider webs catch wildlife too, but nothing is going to come along and eat the catch — not even a spider, which can get caught in the webbing too. Instead, those trapped animals suffer and eventually die unless someone comes along to rescue them.

Rescues do happen. Wildlife rehabilitators frequently get calls in the run-up to Halloween about animals caught in the fake webs.

"This is the time of year that rehabilitators receive numerous animals caught in these decorations, from songbirds to chipmunks and everything in between," Kathryn Dudeck, wildlife director of the Chattahoochee Nature Center in Georgia, told Treehugger. "This is obviously not a new issue, but one I rarely see addressed."

Dudeck has even seen photos of a western screech owl stuck in the fake webbing. Luckily, it was able to be successfully rehabilitated after being rescued. 

The timing of our fake spider web decorations is problematic too, especially for birds. Fall is peak migration time for many birds, so just as we are turning our homes into spooky spectacles, birds are traveling through in large numbers. Migration poses many risk to birds, and many die each year during their journey. Additional obstacles like those posed by the sticky strings from fake spider webs increase the danger of migration. 

Many of the wildlife prone to getting tangled in these faux webs are already facing declining populations across the world. Bees and other pollinators, which are crucial to our food supply, face many threats that have caused populations to decline, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Birds, too, face many threats, and North America's bird population has fallen by more than 25 percent in the past 50 years, the National Audubon Society reports.

So when decorating for Halloween this year, take a pass on covering your bushes and porch with fake spider webs. If spiders and their webs are the kind of scare you have in mind, let the real ones do the trick.

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