As North America continues gearing up for winter, the Southern Hemisphere is in the middle of its summer season. In particular, southeast Brazil is forecasting hot, humid temperatures with raining – spiders?
Arachnophobes beware: this is about to get real. You read that right. When 14-year-old João Pedro Martinelli Fonseca was traveling to visit his grandparents in their remote hometown about 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of São Paulo, he looked to the sky only to notice it was covered in creepy, crawly, floating black dots.
Spoiler alert: the dots are spiders.
Photos and cell-phone videos captured by the teen show hundreds of spiders hanging from the sky, which appears to be “raining spiders”. Yes, it is the stuff of nightmares but no, it’s not as terrifying as it seems. As one local newspaper reports, biologists are quick to reassure that the event is fairly common and relatively harmless – to humans, at least.
Adalberto dos Santos, a professor in the zoology department at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, told The Guardian that this species of spider – Parawixia bistriata – doesn't have a harmful venom. According to a 2007 study published in Animal Behaviour, this particular species of spider will capture and feed in groups depending on certain environmental factors, such as availability and size of prey.
“In addition, spiders from habitats with lower levels of prey (dry sites) had a higher tendency to attack prey collectively than did spiders from wet sites where prey levels were higher,” the study's author wrote.
The same thing happened in 2013 when a local photographer captured images of thousands of spiders moving up and down their silk threads that were this time attached to telephone wire, taking on the visual of an unusual snowstorm showering its little black flakes on ogling residents below.
“This type of spider is known to be quite social,” biologist Marta Fischer told Smithsonian Magazine at the time. “They are usually in trees during the day and in the late afternoon and early evening construct sort of giant sheets of webs, in order to trap insects.”
Yeeeeah, we’re still going to take a hard pass.
[H/T: The Guardian]