What are banana spiders

Banana spider: Particularly aggressive and poisonous

The name banana spider sounds harmless, but in truth it is one of the most poisonous animals in the world, whose bite can be dangerous even for humans. The poisonous wandering spider lives mainly in South America and comes to Germany through fruit boxes, for example.

She is the spider from the yucca palm or the banana box that nobody would like to get to know. The banana spider, also known as the Brazilian wandering spider or Armadeira, has the Latin name Phoneutria, which means "murderess". All eight species of the genus of the banana spider belong to the wandering spiders and are considered to be highly poisonous. They are also extremely aggressive in nature.

How do I know if the spider is dangerous?

When the spiders feel threatened, they straighten the front part of their body, stretch the front pairs of legs upwards and rock back and forth jerkily. Then - sometimes without this warning - the spiders bite.

Since she looks a little bit as if she's holding pistols in the air with this threatening behavior, the Brazilian gave her the Portuguese name Armadeira, which means "armed spider".

According to the German Fruit Trade Association e. V. (DFHV), the authorities should not be informed if a spider or insect is found. Jason A. Dunlop, curator at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, also believes that it is not necessary to report the find to authorities or third parties. "Most spiders are harmless, even if they are a little frightening," he explains to t-online.de. "They are not a disease carrier or a threat to humans."

If you spot an animal among fruits in the supermarket or at home, don't panic. At home you should catch the spider with the help of a container or a bag, advises the DFHV. You can also wear rubber gloves when doing this. If your fear is too great, you can spray the animal with hairspray, for example - the spider will not survive this.

If you are curious about a find like this, you can catch the animal and take it to the Natural History Museum for identification, suggests Dunlop.

What are the consequences of a banana spider bite?

The poison of the Armadeira can cause severe pain. Other side effects are

  • increased blood pressure
  • fever
  • Fatigue.

In severe cases, the poison leads to circulatory failure and can possibly be fatal, even to a healthy, adult human.

Female specimens of the spider genus can be up to five centimeters long, males about four centimeters. The banana spider can jump up to half a meter.

What should I do after a bite?

"Some wandering spiders only defend themselves with a so-called 'dry bite'. That means they do not use their valuable poison and only bite with their mouthparts to scare off enemies," says curator Dunlop reassuring t-online.de readers.

He advises you to stay calm if you get a bite from an unknown spider. If symptoms of poisoning then occur, those affected should get medical help immediately. Although there is an antidote for a bite of the Armadeira in South America, according to Dunlop, it is not available at all or is very difficult to find in Germany. "Those affected can at least use other medication to alleviate the consequences of the bite, such as pain," he says.

Can the banana spider survive in Germany?

The home of the banana spider is in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, where it is often found on plantations. The name of the banana spider comes from the fact that it is occasionally shipped to Europe as a stowaway in banana boxes. "It is therefore unlikely that the spider would survive the winter in Germany in the wild, at most in warm buildings such as greenhouses," explains Dunlop.

The banana spider is one of the wandering spiders that hunt prey primarily at night and hide in damp and dark places during the day, for example in the cellars of residential buildings. It feeds mainly on cockroaches and other insects as well as small reptiles and amphibians.

What security measures do banana importers take?

The harvest and the packing of the bananas take place almost exclusively by hand, "explains Ralph Fischer, quality manager at the importer Weichert GmbH & Co. KG, t-online.de. By hand work and a subsequent 20-minute cleaning in a water bath, reduce The fruit importer runs the risk of insects and other animals hiding among the fruit, so the carton is packed, checked again and shipped at 13 degrees Celsius.

Chiquita goes even further: to prevent insects and other animals from hiding in the banana trees, they are not only cleaned with water, but also with a chlorine solution. Then "Chiquita bananas are placed in a controlled atmosphere (very deep O2-Salary) transported from Central America to Europe. Normally no insects survive under this atmosphere, "explains Fabienne Deiß, Marketing Manager at Chiquita Europe B.V. t-online.de.

The fruit importers Chiquita and Weichert insure that a check is carried out by certified inspectors even after the goods have arrived. Mr. Fischer adds that no spiders have yet been found. There is, however, the possibility, adds Fischer, that from this point on, native animals will hide in the boxes.

Fischer warns t-online.de readers of the sometimes dramatized reports: "The reporting of the last few years [...] has apparently led to the fact that if a living being is actually found in a banana box, the reflex is triggered: Warning, Poisonous banana spider! This protective mechanism is usually unfounded: The spiders found in recent years and examined by the Zoological Institute of the University of Hamburg were not once poisonous (for humans). "