Here's some advice for those of you that are scared of spiders - Don't visit the town of Santo Antonio da Platina in Brazil. And if you do, steer clear of telephone wires or you may witness what 20-year old web designer Eric Reis did when he left a friend's house on Sunday February 10th - Thousands of the creepy arachnids precariously dangling off the wires.
The scene that at first glance appears like they were all about to 'rain' from the skies and land on the young man may be scary enough to send shivers down the spines of most humans, but it did not faze arachnid experts. Apparently, it is pretty common for social or colonial spiders to live in massive colonies and hunt together. The only mystery they are trying to solve, is what species of spiders these happened to be.
An early report suggested the swarming spiders were Anelosimus eximius, a social species of spider that weave communal webs, live together as adults, and even share childcare duties. However, some experts believe that these are too big to be the A.eximius. They are leaning toward another social species - The Parawixia bistriata.
According to arachnologist George Uetz, the spiders do not appear to be living in one giant web but are spread out among a network of individual orb webs across the wires which is why they appeared to be 'raining'. And given that the the P. bistriata are prevalant in the South American Savannas, makes it even more likely. Another clue is the fact that they seemed to suddenly appear out of thin air - A trait common to this species which have a tendency to collect in a group, usually camouflaged inside trees at night, as if to discuss strategy. Then early in the mornings, they converge upon a selected spot where they first weave a huge communal web. Once that is done, they start to build individual webs on this base, inside which they sit and lure their prey - Who knew that spiders were this smart!
The only way to really determine which species of spider is crowding up the Brazilian skies is to get up close and personal with them - A task that is still up for grabs in case, you are interested.
Resources: csmonitor.com, wired.com, dailymail.co.uk