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Half-Mile Spider Web Blankets Tennessee Suburb

According to experts, the spiders' presence is actually a good thing.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in North Memphis, Tennessee -- except this blanket of white isn't freshly fallen snow, but a massive spider web that has residents worried.

According to experts, the spiders' presence is actually a good thing.

Giant Spiders To Freak You Out: Photos

"It's a mass dispersal of the millions of tiny spiders that have always been in that field, unnoticed till now," Memphis Zoo curator Steve Reichling told local news station WMC-TV.

"In fields and meadows," he said, "there are often literally millions of spiders doing their thing, unseen and unappreciated by us. I would not want to live in a world where such things were no longer possible. The presence of these spiders tells us that all is well with nature at that location."

Top 10 Oldest Insects, Spiders And Bugs: Photos

Reichling posits that the spiders are likely sheetweb weaver spiders from the Linyphiidae family, which has over 4,300 known species that occur around the world. The small spiders are known to construct messy webs close to the ground. Unlike orb-weaving spiders, which employ sticky silk to capture their prey, the sheet-web weavers prefer to build "tangled networks of silken threads" that entangle prey, according to the University of Kentucky.

Spiders in the Linyphiidae family are also known for their ballooning behavior. The arachnids are able to travel thousands of miles by shooting a silk 'parachute' into the wind. Some ballooning spiders have made it as far as Antarctica.

Article first appeared on Discovery's Dscovrd blog.

A spider web half a mile long has become the talk of a Tennessee suburb.

You almost feel for them, spiders. They can't help being what they are, and yet almost no one is happy to see them. Especially true when they have exceedingly long legs, thick bodies and a general mien that makes you turn quickly in some other direction. Photos don't bite, though, so let's take a look at some honking-big spiders -- with Halloween on the way, we may as well get started freaking ourselves out. Shown here is the Brazilian wandering spider (a.k.a.

Phoneutria

), a feisty and venomous crawler from South America. Just four years ago it took home an award from the Guinness World Record people for the title of "most venomous" spider. This spidey's legs can span nearly 6 inches, its body just shy of 2 inches. It gets its name thanks to its preference for strolling along the tropic floor at night seeking out prey, rather than building webs or hiding out someplace waiting to strike. During the day, it lays low wherever it's convenient -- even inside banana plants, which is how it get its nickname "banana spider."

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Not to be outdone is a spider that's been making a big splash of late, with an entomologist's

blog about his encounter with one

. It's called the Goliath bird-eater (a.k.a.,

Theraphosa blondi

). It can weigh in at almost 6 ounces and it's been known to reach nearly a foot in leg-span. The "bird eater" moniker must be there to warn birds away, though, because this spider doesn't typically eat birds as a matter of, er, course. It will regularly eat small land animals such as frogs, lizards, and snakes, however.

Spiders Have Personality Too

Meet the golden-silk orb weaver spider. Step into its parlor, if you must. Don't be fooled by its deceptively gentle-sounding name. The female golden-silk orb weaver's body alone can reach 2 inches, its legs can stretch to more than 5 inches, and it's even been observed killing and eating tree snakes. What's more, a study published earlier this year found that these spiders, when living in urban areas,

are growing even bigger

than usual. Interesting side-note: The golden-silk orb weaver also belongs to the oldest surviving genus of spiders,

Nephila

, which has a fossil in the record that dates to 165 million years ago.

Look If You Dare: Ancient Spider Family Album

The Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating tarantula has a leg-span that can reach 11 inches and weight that can tip the scales (well, for a spider) at about 3.5 ounces. Despite its name, it's not confirmed that they actually eat birds any more than do the Goliath bird-eaters. Instead, they dine on insects or the random small amphibian or reptile. Instead of making a web, it takes its prey by quick-strike ambush in the open.

Bat-Eating Spiders Are Everywhere

The giant huntsman spider is so big it even took the trouble to have a size descriptor built into its name (given that Goliath was taken). The huntsman is neck and neck, or leg and leg, with the Goliath bird-eater for the title of biggest spider, by leg-span (in sheer body mass, though, the Goliath is more like an offensive lineman, while this spider is a lanky cornerback). A giant huntsman's legs can stretch out to 12 inches, and its speedy, crab-like gait makes it a fast hunter that excels at chasing down its meals. It hails from caves in Laos.

PHOTOS: Fish-Eating Spiders Found Around the World