Top 10 Brazilian Wandering Spider Facts

If you suffer from an acute fear of gigantic spiders, then you better stop reading now.

If you are up for the challenge, then this post will allow you to discover the ultimate list of interesting Brazilian wandering spider facts, a pretty big spider common in the northern part of South America.

1. Brazilian wandering spiders are a genus of spiders

The Brazilian wandering spider is a genus of spiders that consists of 8 recognized species. This genus is known scientifically as “Phoneutria” and is part of the wandering spider family called “Ctenidae” which includes dozens of genera.

All wandering spiders are extremely venomous and defensive, but as opposed to common belief, only a few species can produce venom that is dangerous to humans. Regardless, it’s best to remain cautious of these hunting creatures because they don’t hesitate to bite!

brazilian wandering spider facts
Close view of the spider / Source

2. They have a couple of different names as well

The most common name for spiders in the genus Phoneutria is the Brazilian wandering spider, but they also have a couple of different names. In Brazilian Portuguese, they are referred to as “armadeiras,” which translates to “armed spiders.”

Another nickname of these spiders is “banana spiders” because of their habit to hide in both banana trees and banana boxes when shipped abroad. This name isn’t unique, however, because several types of spiders that share this behavior are referred to as such.

3. Only one species can be found in Central America

Even though this particular genus is referred to as the “Brazilian wandering spider,” they can be found in multiple countries in South America. Here’s an overview of the 8 different species of Brazilian wandering spiders and the location they can be found in:

  • Phoneutria bahiensis – Brazil
  • Phoneutria boliviensis – Central, South America
  • Phoneutria eickstedtae – Brazil
  • Phoneutria fera – Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Suriname, Guyana
  • Phoneutria keyserlingi – Brazil
  • Phoneutria nigriventer – Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina
  • Phoneutria pertyi – Brazil
  • Phoneutria reidyi – Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Guyana

As you can see, most of these species are native to countries in South America, but one of them also lives in Central America.

4. These spiders have very long legs and bodies

There are literally thousands of species in the infraorder “Araneomorphae” to which these spiders belong to. While some species do have a longer leg span than the largest Phoneutria species, they do have the longest body length and weight of all species in this infraorder.

This group also includes just about all spiders we have known, except for the largest spiders in the world, the Tarantulas! In other words, if you come across a spider, it’s likely a member of the Araneomorphae.

The bodies of the adult Brazilian wandering spiders can grow anywhere between 1.7 and 4.8 centimeters (0.67 to 1.89 inches). Their leg span reaches a length of anywhere between 13 and 18 centimeters (5.1 to 7.1 inches), which means these are pretty big spiders!

brazilian wandering spider size
The long legs of the spider / Bernard Dupont /

5. It’s not that easy to identify these creatures

Perhaps the most remarkable of the Brazilian wandering spider facts is that they possess a lot of features that make it hard to identify them. Especially a dense brush of fine hairs on various parts of their bodies is a feature common in many other spiders of the family Ctenidae.

Some species, on the other hand, lack hairs in particular spots which makes it even harder to identify them!

The most common features, on the other hand, are black stripes on top of their body and several rows of black dots on their abdomen. Some species also have an abdomen that is overall reddish in color, a pretty distinctive feature.

Brazilian Wandering spider
The spider / Rodrigo Tetsuo Argenton /

6. They have a particular posture when they feel threatened

Perhaps the best way to identify these creatures is their behavior when they feel threatened. if the particular spider tilts its body and holds its front legs up high in a distinctive defensive posture, it’s likely a Brazilian wandering spider.

As the spider is waving its front legs back and forth in an attempt to defend itself from imminent danger, it’s possible to see another distinctive feature, which is black bands on the underside of its legs.

brazilian wandering spider defensive position
The defensive position / Gionorossi /

7. You won’t see many of them wandering about during the day

As you probably guessed by now, these animals are referred to as wandering spiders because they, well, love to wander about! This also means that they don’t maintain a web to catch their prey as many other types of spiders do.

They don’t walk around the jungle floor in the daytime, though, because these are actually nocturnal creatures that hunt at night. The problem with this is that they hide in the daytime, preferably in dark and moist places where they hope to be left alone.

wandering spider
Wandering at night / Dick Culbert /

8. They are considered to be very dangerous to humans

If you accidentally stick your hand in whatever hole they crawled in during the day, they won’t hesitate to use their venomous teeth! What makes things even worse is that they can produce venom that is potentially deadly to humans, making them extremely dangerous.

Even though it’s generally believed that most spiders are dangerous, very few species carry venom which is potentially harmful to human beings. Brazilian wandering spiders are one of these few species!

The benefit we have is that their teeth aren’t adapted to envenomate large mammals (like us) but instead to kill small prey. While small animals don’t stand a chance after being bitten, if treated quickly, humans have a good chance of survival. Death is caused by a respiratory arrest in case the symptoms aren’t treated.

interesting brazilian wandering spider facts
Phoneutria / Gionorossi /

9. They don’t always release their venom if they bite

The symptoms after being bitten by this dangerous creature include increased blood pressure, fever, sweating, visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.

Some experts believe, though, that these spiders can defend themselves by producing a so-called “dry bite.” This means a bit without actually injecting venom. Very few spider species in the world can do this to save venom for cases when it’s needed more.

That’s probably the main reason why a study concluded that just 2.3% of bites required antivenom. Regardless, these are extremely dangerous creatures that are sometimes referred to as “killer-spiders.”

10. Beware of the wandering spider when moving a box of bananas

The reason these creatures are referred to as “banana spiders” is because they often hide in boxes of bananas. These are shipped from Brazil to North America and Europe and sometimes, the wandering spider wasn’t able to leave the box and got shipped along with it.

This has sometimes resulted in bites after opening the box, such as this pub chef in Somerset who was bitten twice in 2005. Other people were luckier but still traumatized after these deadly creatures started wandering about in their house, such as this South London family in 2014.

brazilian wandering spider dangerous
The dangerous spider / João P. Burini /

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