Massive Outbreak of Real Spiderwebs May Threaten Halloween Sales of Fake Ones

Fake cotton spiderwebs and sweet candy spider treats are typical fare during the Halloween season, but Mother Nature may be catching up by reinforcing its arachnid children with greater numbers. The sheer cold often disposes of the eight-legged freaks by now, but in the University District, real webs are still everywhere--and scaring people in far greater numbers than the store-bought version.

"Running face-first into a spiderweb and imagining [a spider] caught in your teeth is horrifying," says Michael Sosnowski, a UW sophomore who has a casual fear of spiders. "They usually die off during the colder months, right?"

People around town have been obsessing over what they perceive as a spideriffic baby boom. But Rod Crawford, curator of arachnids at the Burke Museum, says the spider population is never any more numerous in any one year than any other year. "I think the biggest factor is that once your eyes begin to notice spiders," Crawford says, "you're naturally going to notice [the webs] everywhere."

According to information from the Burke Museum website, the low-moisture conditions of the hot summer months make it difficult for spiders to survive. October is the most common month for spiders to mature into their web-weaving archetypes, second only to May. Especially in the mild-cool climate of the Northwest, spiders have an easier time surviving.

So could real spiderwebs make the fake kind obsolete come Halloween d├ęcor time? "Yes," says Greg Vandy, a resident bug expert specializing in Gypsy moths who also hosts KEXP's Roadhouse and just launched his own blog. "Authentic American music and authentic webs are both better than the fake stuff."

Representatives from Party Supply and Champion did not return calls seeking comment on whether or not the preponderance of remaining real webs might cut into fake sales.

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