The banana spider, or as it is also called, the golden spider, or the soldier wandering spider, is a poisonous spider. In 2018, he even got into the Guinness Book of Records due to the strong toxicity of his poison. Modern medicine has stepped far forward, thanks to which doctors have learned how to make an antidote. This helps to reduce the number of deaths after being bitten by an arthropod.
The spider is called a banana spider, as it is often found under the skin of a fruit, or inside a bunch of bananas. Thus, it spreads almost all over the world and poses a great danger.
View origin and description
The banana spider belongs to the arthropod arachnids, allocated to the order of spiders, the family Nephilidae, the genus Nephila.
Spiders are unique representatives of flora and fauna. Only they tend to weave a web and have 8 paws each. These features prompted ancient scientists to the idea that these creatures did not originate on Earth, but came here from a completely different planet. However, the later found remains of the ancient ancestors of modern spiders 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 destroyed quite quickly. 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.
Video: Banana spider
According to the few findings, scientists managed 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 modern representatives of this species. They had very small body sizes and a tail section, which was designed for weaving webs. The process of formation of sticky threads was most likely involuntary. The threads were not used for weaving webs, but for lining their holes and preserving cocoons.
Scientists call the place of origin of arachnids Gondwana. With the advent of Pangea, the arachnids that existed at that time quickly spread to various regions of the earth. The subsequent ice ages significantly narrowed the habitats of arachnids on earth.
For the first time, the features of the life and appearance of a banana spider were described by the German researcher Maximilian Perty in 1833. He gave him the name, which in Greek was interpreted as “killer”.
Appearance and features
The appearance of banana spiders has no specific features and distinctive features. It can easily be confused with any other spider. In this species of spiders, sexual dimorphism is quite pronounced – females are almost twice as large as males in size and body weight.
Distinctive features of the appearance of wandering soldiers:
- body dimensions – 1.5- 4.5 centimeters;
- long limbs, the size of which in some individuals reaches up to 15 centimeters. Chelicerae in most individuals are colored brown, dark red. This scares off other predators that show a desire to hunt spiders. On other limbs there are transverse rings, which are painted in a darker color;
- the body is represented by two sections: a convex abdomen and 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 living conditions, since the color of the body performs the function of masking;
- a dark strip runs along the body.
Long limbs are a hallmark of the banana spider. They are used not only as a means of transportation, but also as organs of touch and smell. They have many supersensitive receptors. There are 8 pairs of organs of vision on the head. Thanks to so many organs of vision, they are provided with a 360-degree view. They well distinguish not only clear pictures, but also shadows, individual silhouettes. Banana spiders have excellent, instant response to movement.
An interesting fact: A distinctive feature of a wandering soldier is considered to be a characteristic pose only for him. When attacked, he stands on his hind legs, lifts up and spreads his front legs. In this position, it is ready for a lightning attack and injection of a highly toxic poison.
Where does the banana spider live?
The largest number of banana spiders is concentrated in South America. However, the banana spider can also be found in other regions.
Geographical regions of the wandering soldier:
- Costa Rica;
The exception is the northeastern region of the South American region. Often found as a habitat in equatorial rainforests. The leaves of various plants, stuck together, provide a cozy and safe haven for arachnids. This is how insects get on banana trees, and along with leaves, on fruit bundles. A sign of their presence is a white mold or cobweb, as well as dark tubercles under the skin of the fruit.
An interesting fact: Banana spiders, unlike other types of spiders, have not one, but seven such glands. Each of them performs its function. There is a gland responsible for protecting cocoons, or fixing the victim, as well as glands designed to form a strong web.
On the territory of Russia, spiders in natural conditions are practically not found. They are often kept as pets. It is unusual for spiders to occupy holes, they lead a nomadic lifestyle, they can hide under stones and snags. In the process of moving, spiders often climb into human dwellings. Wandering soldiers do not tolerate intense heat, trying to hide in secluded corners, which is a great danger to people living in the house.
Now you know where the banana spider lives. Let's see what it eats.
What does the banana spider eat?
Soldiers on the move are rightfully considered omnivorous insects. They feed on anything they can catch in their nets. They also do not disdain food of plant origin – bananas, or the fruits of other fruit trees.
What serves as a food base:
- other, smaller arachnids ;
- various types of amphibians;
- different types of small birds;
Spiders use various means to obtain a food source. They can weave incredibly strong trapping nets with which to provide themselves with food.
Interesting fact: In some cases, the size of the poutine can reach 2 meters! It is incredibly durable, as it is able to hold a bird, a small lizard or a snake that has fallen into it.
Spiders can also prey on their chosen prey. They choose a potential victim, overtake it in the blink of an eye, stand on their hind legs and attack, spewing a deadly poison. Under the influence of the poison, the victim is paralyzed and digestion and melting of its insides occurs. After a while, the spiders simply drink the insides of their prey.
Banana spider venom is considered highly toxic. To kill a medium-sized mouse, they need only 6 micrograms of poisonous secretion. However, having caught another victim in her strong nets, the female spider is in no hurry to kill her. Prey is paralyzed by injection of poison and wrapped in a cocoon of cobwebs. After that, it is suspended in a still alive state. So the prey can be stored for some more time.
Character and Lifestyle Features
Spiders spend most of their time on the web they have woven. It can be located in residential buildings, or non-residential premises. They prefer to hunt at night. It is during this period that their web casts with silver highlights that attract potential victims. Banana spiders are unique craftsmen for weaving webs. Special glands in their body synthesize a specific fluid, which, when the muscle fibers contract, turns into a cobweb.
The weaving of the web is carried out exclusively by females. Males exist only for procreation. The males feed on the remains of the female's prey. Banana spiders differ from their relatives in 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, as they instantly inject their highly toxic poison. Science knows cases when spiders managed to overcome an adult rat.
Spiders do not tend to lead a sedentary lifestyle. They constantly wander, for which they received their second name. Often they 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 web they have woven. The hairs, or bristles, that are located on the limbs, allow you to respond to the slightest vibrations and movements of the spider filaments.
Social structure and reproduction
Males 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 lays her eggs in a cocoon of cobwebs and hangs them with strong threads. Females zealously guard their cocoons until the moment when spiderlings hatch from them. After 20-25 days from the moment they are placed in a 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 runs away quickly, as often females simply eat their partners after the end of the mating season.
Spiders reach sexual maturity at the age of three years. 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. The growth of spiders occurs during the molting period. The average lifespan 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 on the ground, they also have enemies.
Spider's natural enemies:
- wasp tarantula hawk. is the largest wasp among all that exist in the world. She does not exhibit aggression. She does not attack other insects, only spiders. Female wasps sting insects, paralyzing them with their toxic venom. After that, they lay their eggs in the body of the arthropod and drag it to their lair. The death of a spider occurs after a wasp larva hatched from an egg;
- some species of birds;
- some species 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. The danger is exclusively female wandering soldiers. Males are not capable of harming anyone, let alone killing anyone.
Population and species status
Despite the fact that the habitat of banana arthropods is small, nothing threatens their numbers today. Most often, these spiders live in the jungle, on the territory of which they have practically no enemies. For humans, these arthropods really pose a danger, and there are indeed cases of bites. In a collision with a spider, as a result of which a person was bitten, it is necessary to immediately seek qualified medical assistance.
Due to the fact that nothing threatens spiders, no special measures or programs aimed at preserving their number, or its increase. Despite the fact that South America is considered the natural habitat of the banana spider, they are bred at home in various parts of the world. Breeders of rare, exotic and very specific representatives of flora and fauna should not forget about the constantly lurking danger. Before you get such a pet, you must carefully study the conditions and rules for its maintenance.
Banana spiders are very often found all over the world in fruits of the same name. Periodically, in various parts of the world, cases of their discovery in boxes or packages with bananas are recorded. Before eating these fruits, you must carefully examine them from the outside for the presence of cobwebs, or dark tubercles.