The White Tower – Mystery silken structure from Peru

Troy Alexander found something weird while working in the Peruvian Amazon for three months. It’s a woven spire surrounded by what appears to be a picket fence. He’s asked experts, he’s asked Reddit. No one can explain what it is and it may indicate a new species of… something.

WTF Is This Weird Web-Tower Thing? We Asked Around. No One Knows. – Wired Science.

Something in the Peruvian Amazon is making weird, intricate structures that resemble white picket fences surrounding an Isengard-like spire.

No one has any idea who the mysterious craftsbug (fungus? spider?) is, or what the structure is even used for, excepting the fence part, which almost makes sense. Nobody, not even the scientists. We asked.

Troy Alexander, a graduate student at Georgia Tech, spotted the first of these structures on June 7. The little, seemingly woven fence was parked on the underside of a blue tarp near the Tambopata Research Center, in southeastern Peru. He later spotted three more of the bizarre enclosures on tree trunks in the jungle.


fence and spire mystery

Troy writes on Reddit:

I posted one of these once before and got no answers, but at the time I’d only seen one and suggested that it might be an aborted start of a urodid moth cocoon. I subsequently saw a few more, and they always looked like this, and no more. I assume there are eggs in the base of the maypole in the middle of the horse corral, though it might be something pupating. Please, any ideas?

This is fascinating. Can’t we watch them to see what comes out? I’m sure we will know eventually.

Troy writes on twitter that it’s been “a fun ride” watching his photos go viral this week. This is the beauty of social media – to bring mysteries to the world’s attention and aid in not only getting us all curious about it but hopefully finding an answer. We’ll keep tabs on this as other researchers attempt to find out more about it.

  14 comments for “The White Tower – Mystery silken structure from Peru

  1. September 4, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Real mysteries & real surprises are fun!

  2. Kathie Rogers
    September 4, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    This is really cool, but could we see a scale on this please?

  3. September 4, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    I have not a clue what it might be, but it is beautiful (and cool).

  4. September 4, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    If I didn’t know better, I’d say it is clearly a mini receiver/repeater for HAARP frequencies constructed by genetically engineered spiders. Expect to start seeing them everywhere.

  5. September 5, 2013 at 2:37 AM

    It’s obviously a VOR navigation station for very tiny aircraft.

  6. eddi
    September 5, 2013 at 3:57 AM

    @ Kathie Rogers
    The article in Wired says 2 centimeters across. 3/4 inch. Base to tip on the tower looks like 1 cm to my old eyes. “Fence posts” about 3/4 cm.
    Sounds like Troy Alexander is back home. Hopefully, someone is keeping a camera handy to see what, if anything, hatches.

  7. ZombyWoof
    September 5, 2013 at 8:59 AM

    I lools like some sort of miniature antenna.

  8. September 5, 2013 at 10:32 AM

    The bugs have discovered radio and are eavesdropping on us

  9. September 5, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Maybe this is a spider’s version of street art.

  10. Dan
    September 5, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Very small aliens

  11. gerald fauske
    September 5, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    More than likely the nest of a daddy longlegs: Arachnida: Opiliones.

  12. Alberto
    September 5, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    If this is natural and not a hoax, the likeliest suspect probably would be a species of spider not yet classified by science. Time-lapse photography for continuous surveillance would be good. Also consulting with the indigenous people for whom it is likely old hat.
    If it IS a spider, I suspect the center mass contains eggs. The mast is probably used in construction of the “picket fence,” which is designed to assure that whatever direction her many hatchlings head out, they will encounter food. Mama is probably long gone, exhausted by this enormous effort.

  13. CJ
    September 5, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    I saw something like this in New Mexico as a child. Strange. I’d go with some sort of web spinning insect or arachnid.

  14. September 28, 2013 at 10:17 AM


Comments are closed.