Cloudy with a chance of… eight-legged creatures? While parts of the U.S. dealt with snow last week, one town in Brazil experienced something that doesn’t typically show up in your regular weather forecast — airborne spiders.
Residents of the inland Brazilian state of Minas Gerais have reported the skies “raining spiders,” a phenomenon which experts say is actually common in the region during hot, humid weather.
Photos and videos posted to social media showed spiders that appear to be falling from the sky, but they were actually just crawling on a giant, super-fine (almost invisible) web created to capture prey.
Fourteen-year-old João Pedro Martinelli Fonseca told a local newspaper he saw the sky covered with black dots while traveling with his family to his grandparents’ farm in Espírito Santo do Dourado, about 155 miles north-east of São Paulo, according to the Guardian.
Fonseca, who captured footage of the strange phenomenon and posted a clip to Facebook last week, said he was “stunned and scared,” especially when one of the spiders fell through the open window.
His grandmother, Jercina Martinelli, told local newspaper Terra do Mandu: “There were many more webs and spiders than you can see in the video. We’ve seen this before, always at dusk on days when it’s been really hot.”
Brazil has seen this “spider rain” before. In 2013, locals of the town of Santo Antonio da Platina saw thousands of spiders crawling on webs attached to telephone pole wires, which gave the impression of a shower (or even light snow) of spiders.
Adalberto dos Santos, a biology professor specializing in arachnology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais told the Guardian that the species Parawixia bistriata is a “social” spider (they sometimes swarm like ants or bees). The spiders emerge early evening to construct the giant web ceiling which hangs between trees and bushes, and can measure up to 13 feet wide and 9 feet thick.
Similar colonies of social spiders can also be found in Texas, according to the Smithsonian. In Lake Tawakoni State Park in Wills Point, Tex., thousands of Guatemalan long-jawed Spiders construct giant webs covering several acres of oak-elm woodlands.
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