Facts to Know about Banana Spiders

Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders, such as banana spiders; a common phobia that many individuals share.  Those who do not fear spiders generally at least have a healthy respect for them, which is wise considering there are over 37,000 known species according to National Geographic.  Some, like the Black Widow, are easily identifiable through their name; others, such as banana spiders, can actually share their name while having totally different characteristics.

Depending on which area of the world you are in, the name banana spider can yield vastly different reactions among people.  That is due to the fact that, while there are two species of banana spiders, they are not related in any form and are actually about as different as the geographic areas from which they are found.

The North American banana spider is a common sight in Florida, although they can also be found in any southern US area.  These banana spiders are so-called due to the shape and color of their bodies; extended frames similar to a banana and bright yellow in color with black accents.  They are also known as “golden orb” or “golden silk”.  These monikers were derived from the incredible webs woven by the creature; large, intricate patterns appearing as golden threads in the sunlight and reportedly stronger than Kevlar, making it the strongest web of all spiders.  Rarely do the North American banana spiders attack humans; when they do, the bite is painful but not generally harmful to humans.



In contrast, the South American banana spider’s venom is deadly.  There have been reports of banana pickers in Brazil who have died within half an hour after being bitten and not treated.  Also known as the Brazilian Wandering Spider, this drab colored arachnid is extremely aggressive.  Making their primarily home in the rain forests of the world, this banana spider seeks out banana bunches as a favorite hideaway and occasionally stows away within the bundles that are picked and packed for shipping.  The green bananas are washed and sometimes passed for ripening before being loaded on boats; a process that usually kills most banana spiders.  From time to time, however, a weak, fragile creature will make its way into a grocery store, where its hairy body hides among the bananas before being discovered by a produce worker or a consumer.

Banana spiders, like any spider species, can be fascinating creatures to study.  It is important to know the contrast between the two banana spider species and to be able to identify the differences so as not to confuse one for the other.  Every spider has its purpose in life’s scheme, and sadly, many people falsely believe the North American banana spider to be its venomous sound-alike and kill the beneficial arachnid out of unfounded fear.  Spiders actually keep the insect world in check, killing more annoying insects that pester us than birds do.

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Knowing the facts about banana spiders can be enriching and beneficial to everyone.  Seeing a banana spider nestled amongst bananas in the store should be reported; seeing the beautifully crafted golden webs of the North American banana spider should be admired and left alone.