On 21 September 1741, the young clergyman-to-be rose before daybreak and went into the fields for a bit of sport.

“I found the stubbles and clover-grounds matted all over with a thick coat of cobweb, in the meshes of which a copious and heavy dew hung so plentifully that the whole face of the country seemed, as it were, covered with two or three setting-nets drawn one over another,” Gilbert White remembered, many years later, in A Natural History of Selborne (1789).

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Source: Guardian Environment