Photo: Flicrk user anja_johnson
The island nation of Guam is under attack from an alien species. Not that kind of alien, but the brown tree snake, which was introduced to the island 60 years ago. Since then, the snake population has risen to 2 million.Another horrible thing? Because of the snake boom, spiders are also proliferating on the island, NPR reports:
Ecologist Haldre Rogers realised something strange was going on as she went roaming through the jungle on Guam and three nearby islands. “While I was doing that,” she recalls, “it appeared that there were tons more spiders on Guam than there were on other islands.”
… In the dry season, Guam had about 2 1/2 times more spider webs. “And 40 times more webs in the wet season than on the nearby islands,” she says.
The spiders, a species of banana spider called Argiope appena, have been thriving because their main predator (and food competition), birds, have been almost completely killed off (there are only a few hundred left on the island) by the snakes.
The U.S. government is trying to control the population boom in a pretty strange way: parachuting dead mice dosed with Tylenol out over the forests using streamers, with the hope that the snakes would eat them, and die. Here’s a pretty great picture. Die, snakes, DIE!
Hopefully this doesn’t happen in the Everglades, where Burmese pythons are taking over and killing off the local mammal and bird species. Recently, researchers caught a gigantic one — almost 18 feet long.
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