"Wolf spiders would rather be hiding somewhere, trying to escape birds and other predators, but when land gets so flooded the spiders are forced to flee into trees and other high things," Steve Heydon, senior museum scientist at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California at Davis, told Discovery News.
"These spiders leave behind a dragline of silk, so the spiders at these places in Australia must be nervously running into each other, marching around in search of food," he added. "There is clearly a lot of spider activity, as evidenced by the massive amounts of silk."
Owen Seeman, an arachnid expert at Queensland Museum, identified the spider in question as "a type of wolf spider." These are common spiders throughout the world, with 130 species documented in Australia alone.
Wolf spiders do not make webs, which many other spiders use to capture prey.
"Wolf spiders are instead like mini tigers that run and pounce on prey at night," Heydon said.
In some of the news stories about the Australian spider silk "storm," at least one expert, the Australian Museum's entomology collections manager Graham Milledge, has been quoted as saying that the spiders were "ballooning." Andy Reynolds, a scientist at Rothamsted Research, has studied this phenomenon before.