Banana Spider or Brazilian Wandering Spider is one of the most dangerous arthropods. It even occupies a certain place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most dangerous type of squad.
After a bite, the victim dies without assistance within 20-30 minutes, and small animals even faster. The Banana Spider inhabits the territory of South and Central America. But because of his love for bananas, he can be transported to another continent in a shipping container along with fruits. Despite its venomousness, the Brazilian spider attacks humans only in self-defense. But if he bit once, he will try to attack again immediately.
Origin of the Species
Banana Spider belongs to the arthropod arachnids, allocated to the order of spiders, family Nephilidae, genus Nephila. Spiders are unique representatives of flora and fauna. Only they tend to weave a web and have 8 paws. These features prompted ancient scientists to think that these creatures did not originate on Earth, but came here from a completely different planet. However, the remains of the ancient ancestors of modern spiders found subsequently made it possible to refute this theory.
Modern scientists still cannot determine the exact period of the appearance of spiders on earth. This is due to the fact that the chitinous shell of arachnids is quickly destroyed. The exception is the few remains of the ancient ancestors of modern arachnids, which have survived to this day thanks to amber or pieces of hardened resin. According to the few finds, scientists were able to name the approximate period of the appearance of arachnids – it is approximately 200-250 million years ago. The very first spiders looked very different from the modern representatives of this species. They had a very small body size and a tail, which was intended for weaving webs. The formation of sticky threads was most likely involuntary. The threads were not used to weave webs, but to line their burrows and preserve cocoons. Scientists call Gondwana the place of appearance of arachnids. With the advent of Pangea, the arachnids that existed at that time quickly spread across various regions of the earth. The subsequent ice ages significantly narrowed the regions of arachnid habitat on earth.
For the first time, the features of the life and appearance of a Banana Spider were described by the German researcher Maximilian Perti in 1833. He gave him a name, which in translation from Greek was interpreted as “murderer”.
Appearance and Features
The appearance of Banana Spiders has no specific features or distinctive features. It can easily be confused with any other spider. In this type, females are almost twice as large as males in size and body weight.
Distinctive features of the appearance of spiders:
- body dimensions – 1.5-4.5 centimeters;
- long limbs, the size of which in some individuals reaches 15 centimeters. Chelicerae in most individuals are colored brown, dark red. This discourages other predators who are willing to hunt spiders. On other limbs there are transverse rings, which are colored in a darker color;
- the body is represented by two sections: the convex abdomen and the cephalothorax;
- the body is covered with thick, hard hairs;
- the color is dark gray, close to black. Some individuals have a dark red, burgundy color;
- the color of the arthropod depends on the region and habitat conditions since the color of the body serves as a camouflage;
- a dark stripe runs along the body.
Long limbs are the hallmark of the Banana Spider. They are used not only as a means of transportation but also as organs of touch and smell. They contain many supersensitive receptors. There are 8 pairs of visual organs on the head. Thanks to so many organs of vision, they are provided with a 360-degree view. They are good at distinguishing not only clear pictures but also shadows, individual silhouettes. Banana Spiders have an excellent, instant response to movement.
Interesting fact: Banana Spider’s distinctive posture is considered to be a characteristic only for him. When attacking, he stands on his hind legs, lifts up, and straightens the front. In this position, he is ready for a lightning attack and injecting a highly toxic poison.
The toxicity of the poison depends on different conditions – the season, habitat, species, and much more. The reaction to a bite is largely determined by the individual characteristics of the body – some assess it as very painful, others hardly notice it. When a Banana Spider bites, the following symptoms may appear:
- sharp, burning pain;
- redness, swelling of the wound and skin around;
- deterioration of health – nausea, dizziness;
- dry mouth, thirst.
The poison can cause dangerous allergic reactions – swelling of the mucous membranes, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain. The action venom is short-lived, all symptoms disappear within a day. A slight trace or scar may remain at the site of the wound. Much more dangerous is the bite of the spider. The venom contains a neurotoxin that causes muscle paralysis and suffocation. A specially developed effective antidote rescues from death, which quickly removes poisoning. Few deaths from the bite were recorded.
The largest number of Banana Spiders is concentrated in South America. However, the Banana Spider can also be found in other regions. Spider geographic regions:
- Costa Rica;
The exception is the northeastern region of the South American region. Often found as a region of habitat in equatorial humid forests. The leaves of various plants stuck together, provide a cozy and safe refuge for spiders. This is how insects get on banana trees, and together with the leaves and fruit bunches. A sign of their presence is white mold or cobwebs, as well as dark bumps under the skin of the fruit.
Banana Spiders are rightfully considered omnivorous insects. They feed on whatever they can catch in their trapping nets. They also do not disdain food of plant origin – bananas, or the fruits of other fruit trees. What serves as a forage base:
- other, smaller arachnids;
- various types of amphibians;
- various types of small birds;
Spiders use a variety of means to obtain a food source. They can weave incredibly strong trapping nets, with which they provide themselves with food.
Spiders can also hunt their chosen prey. They select a potential victim, instantly overtake it, stand on their hind legs, and attack, injecting deadly poison. Under the action of the poison, the victim is paralyzed and its insides are digested and melted. After a while, spiders simply drink the inner contents of their prey. Spider venom is considered highly toxic. To kill a medium-sized mouse, they only need 6 micrograms of the poisonous secretion. However, having caught another victim in its strong nets, the female spider is in no hurry to kill it. Prey is paralyzed by injecting poison and cocooned from a web. So the prey can be stored for some time.
Features of Temperament and Lifestyle
Spiders spend most of their time on the web they make. It can be located in residential buildings or non-residential premises. They prefer to hunt in the dark. It is during this period that their webcasts silver reflections that attract potential victims. Banana Spiders are unique weavers. Special glands in their body synthesize a specific fluid, which, when muscle fibers contract, turns into a cobweb.
Cobweb weaving is done exclusively by females. Male individuals exist only for procreation. The males feed on the remains of the female’s prey. Banana Spiders differ from their relatives by their speed of movement and lightning-fast reaction. Spiders are not afraid to attack even those representatives of the local flora and fauna that surpass them in size, strength, and power. Most often, in a seemingly unequal battle, spiders manage to win, since they instantly inject their highly toxic poison. Science knows cases when spiders managed to defeat an adult rat.
Spiders do not tend to be sedentary. They are constantly wandering, for which they received their second name. They often have to travel long distances. Spiders have the ability not only to run very fast but also to jump quite high. The greatest activity is observed at night. During the day, spiders hide in the foliage, on the branches of shrubs and trees near the spider webs woven by them. The hairs, or bristles, which are located on the limbs, allow you to respond to the slightest vibration and movement of the spider’s threads.
Male individuals are much inferior to females in size and weight. Before mating, they tend to attract the attention of a potential partner with a kind of dance and tap dancing with their limbs. After the mating process is completed, the egg-laying period begins. The female braids the laid eggs with a cocoon of cobwebs and hangs them up with strong threads. Females zealously guard their cocoons until the spiders hatch from them. After 20-25 days from the moment of placement in the cocoon, small spiders appear from the eggs.
The size of one cocoon is several centimeters. There may be several such cocoons. In total, one female can lay from one and a half to two hundred to several thousand eggs. The mating season of Banana Spiders most often begins in early April and lasts until the end of spring. After the mating process is completed, each male quickly runs away, as often the females simply eat their partners after the end of the mating season.
Spiders reach maturity at the age of three. During the first 12 months of life, they can withstand up to a dozen molts. With age, the number of molts decreases, and the toxicity of the poison increases. Spiders grow during the molt period. The average life span of one spider in natural conditions is 3-5 years.
Natural Enemies of Banana Spiders
Despite the fact that Banana Spiders are considered one of the most dangerous and poisonous creatures on earth, they also have enemies. Natural enemies of the spider:
- wasp Tarantula Hawk. is the largest wasp among all that exists in the world. She is not characterized by the manifestation of aggression. She does not attack other insects, only spiders. Female wasps sting insects, paralyzing them with their toxic venom. After that, they lay eggs in the body of the arthropod and drag it to their den. The death of a spider occurs after its insides are eaten by a wasp larva hatched from an egg;
- some types of birds;
- some types of amphibians and reptiles that are found in the jungle;
Spiders most often die, defending themselves from those who pose a potential threat to them. Spiders do not tend to flee when danger appears; more often they take a defensive position and defend themselves. Spiders are considered extremely aggressive and very dangerous. Only the female Brazilian Wandering Spiders are dangerous. Males are not able to harm anyone, much less kill anyone.