An unexpected rain of spiders led to a lovely Twitter geek-out between astronomers and arachnologists

Ed Yong in The Atlantic:

Lead_960 (3)Last Wednesday, a spider fell onto Jamie Lomax’s laptop. Two days later, it happened again. Soon enough, several spiders were crawling across the ceiling of her office. “It was a little unnerving,” says Lomax, who’s an astronomer at the University of Washington. “I’m not scared of spiders but if someone else wants to take care of the spider in a room, I’ll gladly let them do it over me. And I don’t really want them raining down on my head.”

Lomax identified the abseiling arachnids as zebra jumping spiders, and tweeted about her experiences with the hashtag #ItIsRainingSpidersNotMen. And after considering options including “nukes and fire,” she settled for notifying her university. They sent over an exterminator, who failed to find any lingering spiders within the ceiling. He figured that a nest had probably hatched, and the newborn spiders had scattered. “But a couple of hours later, there were still spiders everywhere,” she tells me. “As of yesterday, there still were.”

Meanwhile, fellow astronomer Alex Parker had read Lomax’s tweets. “Have you tried lasers?” he replied. “Seriously though, some jumping spiders will chase laser pointers like cats do.”

There are, indeed, many Youtube videos of them doing exactly that. But Emily Levesque—Lomax’s colleague, with an office two doors down—wanted to see it for herself. “She has a laser pointer and she happens to be the only other person with spiders in her office,” says Lomax. “She ran down to me and said: You have to see this.”

More here.