There are approximately 46,000 types of spiders in the world and they are found on all continents except Antarctica. They all have the ability to bite and produce venom, but there are only approximately thirty that can endanger human lives.
Considering how many types there are on the planet, this is a very small percentage. They do have the ability to bite using their chelicerae or mouthparts. However, most only do so to feed and are not interested in biting humans unless accidentally pressed against the skin. Some species even have the ability to withhold venom and can choose to give a dry bite or a partially envenomated bite.
Facts about the Banana Spider
The banana spider is also referred to as an armed spider in some parts of the world. There are many Brazilian spiders, but few are as well known as the Brazilian wandering spider or banana spider.
Their scientific name is Phoneutria and they are members of the Ctenidae family. Two types of Phoneutria are found in Brazil. These are the Phoneutria fera and Phoneutria nigriventer.
Both are recognized as types of the Brazilian wandering spider. They have also been in the news in the last few years since several people discovered them living in bananas purchased in the United Kingdom. It is worth noting that only a few of these were positively identified as the Brazilian wandering spider.
Others were not identified and could easily have been different species of Brazilian spiders that resemble the banana spider. Naturally, these occurrences made people even more afraid of this species. It is interesting to consider what it would be like to have an encounter with one of these animals.
Many people wonder what happens when you get bit by a banana spider. Many have the idea that they might need to fend off this spider attacking them. But, that is generally not the case. This spider will bite when threatened or as a means of defense. Even then, they will usually only envenomate when they are pressed up against something. They only bite humans to protect themselves as a form of defense, not as a form of attack. This spider is feared by many due to its enormous amount of venom. See also our article What happens when you get bit by a Black Widow for symptoms and treatment of another dangerous spider bite.
Banana Spider Bite
The venom acts on the chemical receptors and ion channels of the neuromuscular system. Once the bite has occurred, the person may experience some severe pain at the bite wound as well as goose bumps and perspiration.
During the next thirty minutes the venom begins acting on the whole system and starts to affect blood pressure and heart rate.
Muscle control can be lost causing paralysis. In addition, the person may experience nausea, vertigo, abdominal cramping, blurred vision, convulsions and profuse perspiration.
These symptoms normally accompany shock. Treatment is usually aimed at controlling symptoms and anti-venom is sometimes administered.
Children are more likely to be killed by the banana spider due to their small body size. It is even thought that possibly children are interested in their front leg stance, causing them to touch them and make the spider feel threatened.
Children are not attacked, but could be bitten as a means of defense. Their smaller body size might cause the venom to overcome the child’s system more quickly.
It is thought that less than 3% of bites are serious enough to use anti-venom and these are mainly in cases of children. The number of deaths from this species is estimated to be around ten or less annually in recent years.
It should be noted that due to the probability of the banana spider causing respiratory failure, narcotics are not recommended for pain.
Instead, patients are given local nerve blocks for anesthesia. Anti-venom is available, but not usually given except for very young patients, elderly patients and those with other health issues when appropriate.
The venom also has one other effect due to its nitric oxide component. This chemical in the venom can cause painful, lengthy erections in males. Those who are bitten must seek medical attention immediately. Untreated, these bites can cause death within two hours.
Dry Banana Spider Bites
When considering the Banana spider bite, it must also be considered that many are not fully envenomated bites. The manufacturing of venom can be expensive for the spider. Realizing that humans are too large to be prey, they can choose to only give a dry bite or just a partially envenomated bite to conserve venom. Patients are given supportive care for these bites such as pain control and treatment for other symptoms.
These animals have a reputation for having attacked their victims. This often comes from the defensive posture that they take when trying to protect themselves. The front legs are raised in the air which appears aggressive. This position is to serve as a warning.
They are aggressive with each other over territory and mating. Sometimes, the female even attacks the male after mating is finished. This fact also helps maintain their aggressive reputation. However, bites that are given to humans are usually in self defense.
Avoiding dangerous Spider Bites
Although these arachnids have the ability to be dangerous to humans, they really are not interested in hurting humans at all.
They are interested in finding and eating prey and mating. It is when humans accidentally come into contact with them unexpectedly that accidents can happen. Brazilian wandering spiders live and hunt on the forest floor.
The best way to avoid them is to steer clear of the forest floor where they live and hunt. In other countries, it is a good idea to check bananas before bringing them into the house.
It is thought that they have become more of a problem due to the fact that more people are shopping for organic fruit with no pesticides used.
Because no pesticides are used, they are able to remain on the fruit and can slip through the inspections to land in the kitchens of those who purchase them. This is thought to be an extremely rare situation. However, if they are discovered, it is best to call authorities.