Earlier this year, Mother Nature served up a Halloween horror show that many found more chilling than the latest Hollywood scare flick. Texas-resident Annette Alaniz Guajardo was leaving her home in Poteet when she spotted a yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) enjoying an unusual snack: a sizeable bat.

By the time Guajardo returned from work that afternoon, the bat had succumbed to the spider's attack and the arachnid was getting to work consuming its meal. Yellow garden spiders ensnare their prey in their distinctive webs where they'll dispatch their quarry by injecting it with venom before wrapping it up in a cocoon of silk for later consumption. While it may seem a macabre sight, spiders need to eat and they play an important role in the ecosystem.

It's not entirely uncommon to find bats falling victim to garden spiders. The predators sometimes build their webs in the eaves of residential homes and will dine on everything from insects, bees and flies to lizards, geckos and – on occasion – bats and birds.

"They have been known to catch birds and other larger animals in their webs and eat them," Matt Bertone, an entomologist with the NCSU Plant Disease and Insect Clinic, explained to ABC News. The arachnids are found throughout the continental United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America. The spiders are known for their unique webs, at the centre of which is a striking, zigzagged web decoration (the function of which is still up for debate).

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A yellow garden spider posing on its impressive web (note the ornate web decoration in the centre).