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Today's forecast: A rain of spiders (but don't worry; it's normal)

By Matthew Jackson
Arachnopobia poster close-up

If you have an aversion toward spiders, you might want to steer clear of certain areas of southern Brazil right now, because the things are falling from the sky down there...sort of.

Residents in Brazil's Minas Gerais state were greeted by a somewhat bizarre sight overhead this week as thousands of arachnids appeared to be raining down on them from a cloudy sky, as you can see in the video below (via The Guardian). What's perhaps more unnerving (or less, depending on how you feel about dodging falling spiders) is that they seem to actually be floating in mid-air. 

Rest assured, though, that this is not some new plague being visited upon humanity, or a strange meteorological phenomenon that allows a spider hivemind to circumnavigate the globe. It's instead an interesting quirk of the parawixia bistriata species of arachnid. The spiders band together to create a communal web high in the air to catch prey, and the webbing happens to be so thin that it's hard to see with the naked eye. Lots of spiders joined together plus a web you can't see equals this unnerving visual, as biologist Marta Fischer explained to Smithsonian back in 2013. 

”This type of spider is known to be quite social,” she said. “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.”

So, the "rain" of spiders is actually completely natural and the product of spiders banding together to achieve dominance over the insect kingdom. Nothing to be afraid of...for now.