Brazil is home to many beautiful things and people. Footballers come to mind first but there’s no shortage of heroes in the animal kingdom. That’s where the famous and very dangerous Brazilian wandering spider comes into the picture.
It’s not really called “wandering” because it likes to travel the world. That name is actually because this spider is known for roaming on the ground in the jungle at night, instead of building a web and lying in it like most spiders do.
But make no mistake. This spider has quite a reputation for other kinds of roaming. It travels across the world on man-made vehicles like ships and airplanes.
How? By hiding in shipments of banana.
The Brazilian wandering spider is nocturnal; and so during the day, it spends its time hiding in quiet places – which includes banana plants. Hiding and nesting on a banana plant that is ripe for harvest, it often gets to be quietly packed in crates and exported across the world.
And when it does get exported and discovered, the Brazilian wandering spider often causes a stir; because it is possibly the most venomous spider in the world.
In 2015, Michaela Egan, a mother in Essex (England), was left worried and afraid that she might have brought this fearful spider into her home. This happened after her Facebook friends warned her about a photo of a banana she had posted, which had some kind of a small patch of webbing or a cocoon on it.
And before that in 2014, Jamie and Crystal Roberts, a couple, fled their house together with their children after a banana which had a small nest on it, burst open and let out many dozens of baby spiders into their home. The couple stayed away from their home for a few days while their it was fumigated.
Shops have had their fair share of alarm from this spider. In 2016, a supermarket in Germany was shut down when a wandering spider was found hidden among some imported bananas. One Wednesday night in March 2017, another supermarket in Germany was shut down in panic after a customer noticed the familiar cocoons on some bananas that were on sale inside. Luckily, an expert was called in and came to identify the spider as a different kind, before the supermarket was reopened.
This spider’s fear is not very undeserved. Its venom can cause a lot of pain and inflammation around the bite, muscle control and breathing problems. At high doses, its venom can lead to death especially if medical attention is not sought for an effective antivenom to be administered by a doctor. The spider’s bite is also infamous for causing priapism in men: a painful erection that can last several hours and can even lead to impotence!
Well, sorry that if you spot a small piece of thick white webbing on your banana, you now have reason to be afraid or at least, concerned.