Is a banana spider bite poisonous?
Yes, banana spiders do bite humans and they are poisonous. Their bites to children are particularly deadly. Their venom is toxic to the nervous system. Their bites cause symptoms such as excess drooling, irregular heartbeat and prolonged, painful erections (priapism) in men.
In late 2013, a family in London had to fumigate their house. An egg sac deposited in a banana bunch was shipped to a local grocery store. After purchasing the bananas, the egg sac broke open in the house, releasing its potentially deadly Brazilian wandering spiders. The home was infested, which caused a lot of problems for the family.
The spider only bites if held or pinched and the bite produces localized pain with slight redness, which quickly goes away.
Fatalities from the bite of banana spiders are rare if you are close to a well-equipped hospital. However, people bitten by this spider must seek immediate emergency treatment because the venom is possibly life-threatening. There is an antivenom available for banana spider bites. Surprisingly, the venom of the male spider is more efficient than that of the female spider. It is certainly dangerous and bites more people than any other spider.
How do you identify banana spiders?
The banana spider is also known as the calico spider, golden silk spider, giant wood spider, Brazilian wandering spider or armed spider. It belongs to the genus Phoneutria, which means “murderess.”
Because these spiders often hide and are found on banana leaves and boxes, they are called banana spiders. These spiders have long arms. They are aggressive and have a particularly nasty bite.
These spiders may appear red or greenish yellow. They are particularly distinguished by their striped legs with dark brown or black and yellow or green markings that may warn predators that they are venomous. They may have distinctive white spots in random places around their abdomen, and female spiders may give off a shiny silver reflection. Generally, they are four to five inches long. They are large, hairy and spindly looking with eight eyes, two of which are large.
It is quite easy to spot a banana spider in the daytime in the woods because they might reflect golden light in sunshine. These spiders build golden-colored webs in open-spaced areas between two trees.
These spiders are mostly seen in Australia, Asia, Africa, North and South America because they prefer warm tropical regions. They prey on small- to medium-sized flying insects, including mosquitoes, bees, butterflies, flies, small moths and wasps. However, they are also known to eat birds and snakes. These spiders may stay in one location for up to a year if they find plenty of food.
What are the symptoms of a banana spider bite?
Brazilian wandering spiders move quickly and aggressively. The bite of a banana spider can be extremely painful. You may experience heavy sweating and drooling and the skin around the bite usually swells, turns reddish and gets hot.
If you are bitten by a banana spider, you may have some skin and neurological effects
- Localized pain that may radiate to other areas
- Rash, swelling and redness at the site of the bite
- Burning, numbness and itching sensation
- Breathing difficulties
- Blurred vision
- Bluish discoloration at the site
- Involuntary muscle contractions
- Missed heartbeat
- Severe pain in the chest and belly
- Increased blood pressure
- Intensely painful erection
It takes one to three hours for symptoms to appear. The bites may hurt and will swell, but the swelling and pain should go away after about a day. It is prudent to seek a doctor’s advice.
Depending on the severity, it may progress to death. A doctor may provide supportive treatment for pain control. While narcotics are not recommended due to the probability of respiratory failure in patients with banana spider bites, local nerve block anesthesia is recommended for pain control. In a few cases, antivenom may be required.
The venom of a banana spider is recommended for use in controlling pathological conditions which cause pain. This venom is also an inspiration for new drug development to treat erectile dysfunction.
Galveston County Master Gardener Association
National Pest Management Association
American Heart Association
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