A banana spider is one of the most common names of two species of spiders found in the Americas, namely, the nephilaclayipes found in North America and the phoneutria found in Central and South America. Of the two species, the phoneutria is considered deadly.
The South American banana spider is a large arachnid, measuring 1.3 inches in length. The phoneutria’s natural habitat is in the rain forests but it is not uncommon to found these spiders in the city as well. The phoneutria has also been responsible for the hospitalization of 7,000 people in Brazil from 1970 to 1980.
The phoneutria’s venom is classified as neurotoxic, which means it attacks the nervous system. The South American banana spider’s venom is similar to the venom produced by another venomous, and equally notorious, spider – the black widow. Its bite causes immediate pain and victims will experience cold sweats and arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats). Unfortunately, there is no antivenin for the phoneutria’s bite so immediate medical attention should be given to bite victims.
The nephilaclavipes banana spider found in North America also produces venom that is similar to the black widow’s, but the venom is less potent, which means it won’t affect humans. The worst that a bite from a nephilaclavipes will do is produce a welt that will subside in about a day.
The nephilaclavipes has a long shape that actually resembles a banana, even in the coloration, which is bright yellow and black. The females grow to 1.1 inches, and males are about half of that size. These North American species live in sunny environments, usually amidst tall plants and trees.