Brazilian wandering spider

One of the most dangerous spiders on our planet is the Brazilian wandering spider, or as it was popularly called «banana» for the love of these fruits, and for what lives on banana palms. This species is very aggressive, dangerous to humans. The venom of the animal is extremely strong, because it contains PhTx3 neurotoxin in large doses.

In small quantities, this substance is used in medicine, but at a high concentration of this substance, it causes loss of muscle control and cardiac arrest. So it is better not to meet this species, and when you see it, do not touch it nearby and hurry to leave.

Species origin and description

 Photo: Brazilian Wandering Spider

Photo: Brazilian wandering spider

Phoneutria fera or the Brazilian wandering spider belongs to the genus Ctenidae (runners). This species was discovered by the famous Bavarian naturalist Maximilian Perty. He devoted many years to the study of these spiders. The name of this species is taken from the ancient Greek φονεύτρια, this term means «killer». This type of spider got its name for its mortal danger.

Video: Brazilian wandering spider

Maximilan Perty combined several species of P. rufibarbis and P. fera into one genus. The first species is slightly different from typical representatives of this genus, and is its doubtful representative.

Several species belong to this genus:

  • Phoneutria bahiensis Simó Brescovit, was discovered in 2001 . It lives in Brazil and America mainly in forests and parks;
  • Phoneutria eickstedtae Martins Bertani was discovered in 2007, the habitat of this species is also the warm forests of Brazil;
  • Phoneutria nigriventer was discovered back in 1987 and lives in Brazil and Northern Argentina; Phoneutria reidyi lives in Venezuela, Guyana, in the warm forests and parks of Peru;
  • Phoneutria pertyi was discovered in the same year, lives in the tropical forests of Brazil;
  • Phoneutria boliviensis habitat Central, and also South America;
  • P.fera lives mainly in the Amazon, Ecuador, and in the forests of Peru;
  • P.keyserling is found in southern Brazil.

Like all spiders, it belongs to the type of arthropod arachnids. Family: Ctenidae Genus: Phoneutria.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Poisonous Brazilian Wanderer

Photo: Poisonous Brazilian wandering spider

The Brazilian wandering spider is a fairly large arthropod. In length, an adult reaches 16 centimeters. In this case, the body of an arthropod is about 7 centimeters. The distance from the beginning of the front legs to the end of the hind legs is about 17 cm. The color of this type of spider is slightly different, but in most cases it is a dark brown color. Although there are spiders of yellowish and red shades. The entire body of the spider is covered with small, thick hairs

The body of the spider is divided into the cephalothorax and abdomen, which is connected by a bridge. It has 8 strong and long legs, which are not only a means of transportation, but also act as tools of smell and touch. The legs often have black stripes and spots. The legs of a spider of this species are quite massive, somewhat similar to claws. There are as many as 8 eyes on the head of the spider, they provide the spider with a wide view.

Interesting fact: Although the banana spider has so many eyes and can see in all directions, it does not see very well. It reacts more to movement and objects, distinguishes the silhouettes of objects, but does not see them.

Also, when examining a spider, one can notice pronounced chewing teeth, which are especially visible during an attack. When attacking, the spider shows the lower part of its body, which shows bright spots, to scare off enemies.

Where does the Brazilian wandering spider live?

Photo: Dangerous Brazilian Wanderer

Photo: Dangerous Brazilian wandering spider

The main habitat of this species is America. Moreover, most often these arthropods are found in the tropical forests of Central and South America. Representatives of this species can also be found in Brazil and northern Argentina, Venezuela, Peru and Havana.

Spiders are thermophilic, the tropics and jungles are considered the main habitat of these arthropods. There they are placed on the crowns of trees. Spiders do not build their own escape and holes, they constantly move from one habitat to another in search of food.

In Brazil, spiders of this species live everywhere except, perhaps, only the northern part of the country. Both in Brazil and in America, spiders can crawl into houses, which terribly frightens the local population.

They love a warm and humid tropical climate. In Russia, spiders of this species do not live due to the climate. However, they can be found accidentally brought from warm countries in boxes with tropical fruits, or spider lovers to breed them in a terrarium.

In recent years, this dangerous animal is increasingly being kept at home as pets. At home, they can live all over the world, but it is not recommended to start them because of the extreme danger of this species. Also, spiders do not live well in captivity, so you need to think carefully before getting such a pet.

Now you know where the Brazilian wandering spider lives. Let's see what it eats.

What does the Brazilian wandering spider eat?

Photo: Brazilian wandering spider in America

Photo: Brazilian wandering spider in America

The diet of this type of spider includes:

  • various small insects and their larvae;
  • snails;
  • crickets;
  • small spiders;
  • small caterpillars;
  • snakes and lizards;
  • various fruits and tree fruits.

The spider is also not averse to eating small birds and their cubs, small rodents such as mice, rats, hamsters. The wandering spider is a dangerous predator. He lies in wait for his victim in a shelter, and does everything so that the victim cannot notice him. At the sight of the victim, the spider rises to its hind legs. Raises the forelimbs, and places the middle ones to the side. This is how the spider looks most intimidating. From this position, he attacks his prey.

Interesting fact: During the hunt, the wandering spider injects poison and its own saliva into its prey. The action of the poison completely paralyzes the victim. The poison blocks the work of the muscles, stops breathing and the heart. The spider's saliva turns the victim's insides into a goo which is then drunk by the spider.

For small animals, frogs and rodents, death occurs instantly. Snakes and larger animals suffer for about 10-15 minutes. It is no longer possible to escape the victim after a spider bite, death in this case is already inevitable. The banana spider comes out hunting at night, during the day it hides from the sun under the leaves on the trees, in crevices and under stones. Hides in dark caves.

The banana spider can wrap its dead victim in a cocoon of web, leaving it for later. During the hunt, spiders can hide in the leaves of trees in order to be invisible to the victim.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Photo: Brazilian wandering spider

Photo: Brazilian wandering spider

Brazilian wandering spiders are solitary. The nature of these spiders is relatively calm, they attack first only during the hunt. Spiders do not attack large animals and people if they feel safe. Phoneutria do not build houses, do not create shelters and shelters. Constantly moving from one place to another. They hunt at night, rest during the day.

Banana spiders are aggressive towards their relatives. Often there are cases of cannibalism. Smaller spiders are eaten by older individuals, the female is able to eat the male after mating with him. Like all predators, they can attack any opponent. However, most often he can defeat even a large victim thanks to a deadly poison.

Spiders of this species are very aggressive. They jealously guard their territory, males can even fight for territory and a female with each other. In captivity, spiders of this species feel bad, experience severe stress, live less than their relatives who live in the wild.

Brazilian wandering spiders run fast, climb trees, and are constantly on the move. The main occupation of these spiders is to weave a web. And unlike ordinary spiders, this species uses the web not as a trap, but in order to wrap already caught prey in it, lay eggs at the time of mating.

The web is also used to quickly move through the trees. This type of spider attacks people only for the purpose of self-defense. But the bite of a spider is deadly, so if you find a spider, do not touch it, and try to take it away from your home.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Poison Brazilian Wanderer

Photo: Poisonous Brazilian Wanderer

As mentioned earlier, Brazilian spiders live alone, and they meet with the female only for breeding. The male offers the female food, appeasing her with it. By the way, this is also necessary so that he is alive and the female does not eat him. If the female eats enough, she may not want to eat the male, and this will save his life.

When the fertilization process is over, the male quickly leaves so that the female does not eat him. Some time after fertilization, the female spider weaves a special cocoon of cobwebs, in which it lays eggs, sometimes eggs are also laid on bananas and leaves. But this is rare, more often the female, in caring for her offspring, hides her eggs in a web.

After about 20-25 days, spider cubs hatch from these eggs. After birth, they spread in different directions. Spiders of this species multiply very quickly, as in one litter, several hundred spiders are born. Adult spiders live for three years, and during their life they can bring quite a large offspring. Neither mother nor father takes any part in the upbringing of offspring.

The cubs grow up on their own feeding on small larvae, worms and caterpillars. Spiderlings can hunt immediately after hatching from the egg. During their growth, spiderlings undergo several molts and exoskeleton loss. For a year, the spider molts from 6 to 10 times. Older individuals shed less. The composition of spider venom also changes during the growth of the arthropod. In small spiders, the poison is not so dangerous, over time its composition undergoes changes, and the poison becomes deadly.

Natural enemies of the Brazilian wandering spiders

Photo: Brazilian wandering spider in bananas

Photo: Brazilian wandering spider in bananas

Spiders of this species have few natural enemies, but they still exist. It's a wasp called «Tarantula Hawk» it is one of the largest wasps on our planet. This is a very dangerous and scary insect.

Female wasps of this species are able to sting the Brazilian spider, the poison completely paralyzes the arthropod. After that, the wasp drags the spider into its hole. The most amazing thing is that the wasp spider is needed not for food, but for caring for offspring. In the belly of a paralyzed spider, the female wasp lays an egg, after some time a cub hatches from it, and eats the belly of the spider. A spider dies a terrible death from being eaten from the inside.

Interesting fact: Some species of this genus use the so-called «dry bite» no venom is injected and the bite is relatively harmless.

Birds and other animals in their natural environment bypass them, knowing how dangerous these spiders are. Because of their venomous nature, Brazilian spiders have very few enemies. However, spiders of this kind do not attack on their own, before the fight they warn their enemy about the attack with their stance, and if the enemy retreats, the spider will not attack him if he feels safe, and decides that nothing threatens him.

Death from other animals, spiders get more often during a fight with large animals, or in the process of a fight with their relatives. Many males die during mating due to the fact that they are eaten by females.

People are just as dangerous to spiders, they are often hunted in order to get their poison. After all, poison in small quantities is used as a means to restore potency in men. In addition, people cut down forests in which spiders live, so the population of one of the species of this genus is under the threat of extinction.

Population and species status

Photo: Dangerous Brazilian Wanderer

Photo: Dangerous Brazilian Wanderer

The Brazilian wandering spider is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the most dangerous spider on planet earth. This type of spider is very dangerous for humans, in addition, sometimes spiders penetrate into people's homes. Insects can often get into the house in fruit boxes or just crawl hiding from the midday heat. When bitten, these spiders inject a dangerous substance, the neurotoxin PhTx3. It blocks the muscles. Breathing slows down and stops, cardiac activity is blocked. A person is rapidly becoming ill.

After a bite, a dangerous poison very quickly penetrates into the blood, lymph nodes. The blood carries it throughout the body. The person begins to choke, dizziness and vomiting appear. Seizures. Death occurs within a few hours. The bites of Brazilian wandering spiders are especially dangerous for children and people with reduced immunity. When bitten by a Brazilian wandering spider, it is urgent to administer antivenom, although it does not always help.

The population of this genus of spiders is not threatened. They multiply rapidly, well survive changes in the external environment. As for other species of this genus, they quietly live and breed, flooding the forests and jungles of Brazil, America and Peru. Phoneutria fera and Phoneutria nigriventer are the two most dangerous species. Their venom is the most toxic. After their bites, excruciating conditions are observed in their victim due to the high content of serotonin. The bite provokes hallucinations, shortness of breath, delirium.

Interesting fact: The venom of this species of spider can kill a child in just 10 minutes. An adult, depending on the state of health, can last from 20 minutes to several hours. Symptoms appear instantly and develop rapidly. Death comes quickly by suffocation.

Therefore, when visiting tropical countries, be extremely vigilant when you see this arthropod in any case, do not approach it and do not touch it with your hands. Brazilian spiders do not attack humans, but when they notice the danger and save, they can bite their lives. In America, many cases of human bites by Brazilian spiders are known, and unfortunately in 60% of cases the bites were fatal. In modern medicine there is an effective antidote, but unfortunately, not always the doctor can be in time for the patient. Young children are especially susceptible to the bites of these arthropods, and they are the most dangerous for them. Often children cannot be saved after being bitten by a wandering spider.

The Brazilian wandering spider is a dangerous but calm animal. It breeds rapidly, lives for about three years and is capable of producing several hundred cubs in its lifetime. When living in their natural habitat, they get their food by hunting. Young spiders are not very dangerous, but adults, thanks to the poison, are deadly to humans. The danger of poison depends on its quantity. In recent years, more and more people keep these dangerous spiders at home in terrariums, which endanger their loved ones. These spiders are dangerous, remember this and better avoid them.

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