Brazilian wandering spiders

Facts about Brazilian wandering spiders

We found 14 facts about Brazilian wandering spiders

They travel stowaway, and on top of that they bite

These spiders are found in forested areas of South and Central America. They actively hunt small animals, which they then paralyze with their venom. 

They are one of the few types of spiders whose venom can also be dangerous to humans. Due to their predilection for hiding in the leaves of certain tropical fruits, there is a risk that they can appear in grocery stores even thousands of kilometers away from their place of origin.

Brazilian wandering spiders
Under the name Brazilian wandering spider is a genus of spiders that live in South and Central America.

The genus currently includes nine species of spiders. 

These spiders are known in Europe mainly from the fact that they sometimes appear in bananas sold in markets.

Although they are dangerous to humans, it should be remembered that not every spider found in a bunch of bananas will be a representative of cottonmouths. The chance of them being carried to another continent is very small.

A study of spiders found in shipments to North America showed that only seven of 135 reported cases actually turned out to be representatives of the Brazilian wandering spiders. Of these, six spiders were representatives of the Phoneutria boliviensis species and one Phoneutria nigriventer.

The name cottonmouth derives from the way they live.

They are spiders that do not weave webs but roam the land in search of prey. They are active at night and rest during the day in burrows, cavities, under rocks or in fruit leaves.

Some species live exclusively in forests, while others, such as Phoneutria nigriventer also find their way well near human habitation. 

They are also known as banana spiders.

They are often found on plantations, where they hide in the hollows of banana tree leaves. With the amount of fruit being harvested for export, it's downright impossible to guarantee that no individuals make it to the packing house.

They live in tropical and subtropical climates. They live in tropical and subtropical climates.

Their northernmost area of distribution is Costa Rica. Their range covers much of South America up to roughly the 25 °E parallel, or northern Argentina.

Although bananas are transported in refrigerated trucks, conditions are not so unfavorable as to kill them.

The optimal temperature for transporting bananas is 13.2 - 14 degrees Celsius, and will not cause death but only slow down vital functions.

During storage and transport, females are able to weave a cocoon and lay eggs.

The container ship used to transport bananas from South America to Europe sails from a week to even several weeks. 

Green bananas are packed in special, airtight packaging that makes them suitable for storage for up to 40 days. During this time, the females trapped inside may have time to lay eggs, and young ones may hatch from the eggs. It takes 4 to 5 weeks for the baby wrasse to hatch.

Even if the Brazilian wandering spider is brought to Central Europe and escapes into the wild, it has no chance of survival.

These spiders require high temperatures, which the European climate cannot provide for them. 

Depending on the species, Brazilian wandering spider can reach sizes from 17 to 50 millimeters.

The leg span varies from 13 to 18 centimeters.

Their distinctive features are their heavily hairy noggin and massive long body.

When meeting, their behavior can also help in identification. When threatened, they raise their front legs high, straighten their body, and begin to sway from side to side.

The most common banana worm is Phoneutria boliviensis.

The body length of this species ranges from 30 to 40 mm (females are larger), and the leg span can reach 13 centimeters. Bites usually involve the arms and legs and are rarely dangerous; these spiders often bite without injecting venom, and only 13 percent of the bites examined showed signs of insertion. 

The risk of death from the bite of these spiders is low, especially outside South America.

Phoneutria boliviensis is the most commonly detected Brazilian cottonmouth in transport, and no deaths from bites by this species have been documented to date.

Approximately four thousand people a year are bitten by the Brazilian cottonmouth.

Only 0.5 percent of those bitten suffer serious health complications from it. Mortality is even rarer, with only fifteen deaths recorded since 1903.

It is important to remember that children are most vulnerable to the serious consequences of being bitten.

The bite of the Brazilian cottonmouth can cause priapism.

This affliction causes a prolonged and painful erection in men that is in no way caused by sexual arousal. If bitten by these spiders, symptoms can last up to five hours.

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