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banana spiders: 5 types, treatments, and benefits

The banana spider is a large spider that lives in every part of the Southeast United States. Banana spiders get their name from the yellow/golden fibers they produce to create their very large webs, which they use to catch flying insects, which are their primary food source. It is common to find these spiders in forests, open wooded areas, in fields, along wooded trails, and at the edges of clearings.

Banana spiders or nephila clavipes are also known as Golden Silk Spiders, Writing Spiders, Calico Spiders, and Golden Orb Weavers. However, whichever name you call them, the spider that often comes to mind is probably the female banana spider.

What does a Common banana spider look like?

As far as banana spider size is concerned, females are much larger than males. A female can grow to a length of 1-3 inches, whereas males are usually only about .02 inches long. They are both slender but of different colors. The female has yellow spots on a light orange/tan abdomen, whereas the males are dark brown and are often overlooked. On each leg, except for the third one, the females have brown and orange bands with two furry tufts.

Tip: The females and males of these creatures look so different from one another that many individuals mistakenly believe they are from two different species.  

Are Banana Spiders Poisonous?

Are Banana Spiders Poisonous?
A closer look at the golden silk orb-weaver (Nephila)

Besides its frightening appearance, the golden silk orb-weaver also bites. The venom of these animals is not sufficiently powerful to cause serious injury to a healthy individual. Nevertheless, the machine is powerful enough to hospitalize an infant, pet, or person with allergies or health problems. If you are unsure how you will react to a bite, you should consult your physician.   

A healthy individual may experience the following symptoms from this spider.

  • Pain in the local area
  • With redness 
  • And blisters

Individuals with allergies or other medical conditions may experience worse symptoms.

Keep in mind when you travel outside of the United States that banana spiders come in many varieties and that some species, such as the Brazilian Banana Spider, may be more dangerous than spiders found here in America.

 Let’s take a closer look at the banana spider.

5 types of banana spiders

Banana Spider (Cupiennius (genus))

Banana Spider (Cupiennius (genus))
Banana Spider (Cupiennius (genus))

Cupiennius spiders are generally large with brown, furry bodies and long, skinny legs. There are other spiders in this genus that have bright red hairs on their mouthparts that distinguish them from others.

Cupiennius is a genus of spiders that occurs primarily in Central and South America. They are commonly known as banana spiders because bananas are the plants on which they live.  

In other countries, workers often find these spiders in banana shipments imported from other countries. 

Tip: Cupiennius is also known as hunting spiders or huntsman spiders because they hunt rather than spin webs.

Hawaiian garden spider (Argiope appensa)

Hawaiian garden spider (Argiope appensa)
Hawaiian garden spider (Argiope appensa)

The males are small and brown. Unlike the males, the females are much larger and have a king’s crown-like body shape.

There is no way you can see a Hawaiian garden spider if you don’t live on an island in the Pacific Ocean.

The females of this spider have the same black and yellow stripes as those of the Nephila orb-weaver spider. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice their bodies are not cylindrical like the Nephila but instead resemble the shape of a king’s crown.

Hawaiian garden spiders can be distinguished from other types of orb-weaving spiders by the design of their webs. In order to strengthen their webs, spiders build them in a zig-zag pattern.  

Tip: There is no danger to humans from Hawaiian garden spiders unless you are a bug. It is best to leave it alone if you see one in your garden because it preys on insects that eat plants and flowers.

Golden silk-orb weaver (Trichonephila clavipes)

Golden silk-orb weaver (Trichonephila clavipes)
Golden silk-orb weaver (Trichonephila clavipes)

In comparison with the black and yellow Nephila, these spiders have a longer, darker, and less yellow body.

Formerly classified as a Nephila species, this silk orb-weaver has been reclassified as part of the Trichonephila genus. This is not surprising since it looks similar to the black and yellow Nephila. When closely observed, you will find that this species has a longer body as well as darker colors with less yellow. A common characteristic of its genus is that its legs are covered with clumps of dark hair.

Trichoonephila clavipes are found in the southeastern United States up through Central America and as far south as Argentina in South America. During the summer, they can be found as far north as eastern Canada.

Despite its appearance, this spider is not aggressive. It only bites if it is handled roughly and its venom is not harmful to humans, causing only a slight reddening of the bite area.

Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria)

Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria)
Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria)

Phoneutria are large brown and hairy spiders with long legs. They are distinguished by a dense patch of fine hair on their pedipalps (the pair of appendages adjacent to the mouthparts of the chelicerae).

A genus of spiders commonly known as banana spiders because they are commonly found in banana shipments, Phoneutria spiders share many similarities with Cupiennius spiders. Originating from Central and South America, these large, hairy, and brown animals hunt their prey at night rather than with webs. The species, Phoneutria fera, has bright red mouthparts like Cupiennius.

Even though these two spider types have a lot in common, it’s important to recognize their differences. Though Phoneutria bites are rare, they can be dangerously toxic to humans and have caused death in young children.

Both types of spiders can be distinguished by a few factors.

One particular characteristic of Phoneutria is that its pedipalps, the two appendages next to its chelicerae mouthparts, are covered in dense, fine hairs. Take a look at the forelegs instead of getting so close to the spider. On the underside of Phoneutria forelegs, there are often contrasting black and yellow/white bands.

Golden silk orb-weaver spiders (Nephila)

Golden silk orb-weaver spiders (Nephila)
Golden silk orb-weaver spiders (Nephila)

There are cylindrical bodies on these spiders. In contrast to mostly brown males, females are larger and have yellow and white abdominals, as well as long, skinny legs with yellow and brown bands.

You’ve probably seen one of these golden silk orb-weavers, also known as banana spiders or banana spiders if you live in a warm part of the world.  

Due to the coloring on their bodies and the long, slender legs of the females, they are much larger than their brown male counterparts.

You’re most likely to notice these spiders based on their webs, which are often quite large and intricately designed. You know how strong they are if you’ve ever accidentally walked into one because they stick to your face.

Generally, if you poke or threaten a Nephila spider, it will not bite. Humans are not affected by their venom, although their bites may cause redness and stinging.  

Tips: It is not uncommon for spiders to adjust the color of their webs to match the local light conditions in order to catch prey by surprise 

Banana Spider: bite treatment at home

Most banana spider bites can be treated at home using the following steps:

To soothe the bite, apply an ice pack covered in cloth for 10 minutes at a time. This will reduce swelling and stinging. Using soap and lukewarm water, wash the bite area. Applying antibiotic ointment to the blistered area can reduce the risk of infection. Apply an antihistamine or corticosteroid cream to relieve itching.

Alternatively, diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can also relieve your symptoms.  Apply aloe vera gel to irritated skin. Aloe vera gel can be either extracted directly from a plant in your home or purchased over the counter. A healthcare professional should be consulted if the bite doesn’t improve in a few days.

banana spider: benefits

There are several reasons you should appreciate golden orb-weavers and Hawaiian banana spiders in your yard. These insects prey on small- to medium-sized pests, including mosquitoes.

Researchers have attempted to harness the strong silk of golden orb-weaver spiders for many applications, including a textile fabric.

It has yet to be identified how to harness the power of this silk for large-scale use, but researchers are studying this spider and its web.

Frequently Asked Questions

how long do banana spiders live?

The females can usually live for up to a month after molting, while the males can live for up to three weeks.

do banana spiders lay eggs in bananas?

Ovipositor of long-horned grasshopper

No, this is not true. Spiders do not have ovipositors and are unable to insert eggs within fruits. There could be egg sacs on fruit, but you would be able to see and remove them easily.  

what do banana spiders eat?

In addition to mosquitoes, grasshoppers, stinkbugs, leaf-footed bugs, bees, butterflies, flies, small moths, and wasps, the banana spider also caters to other small to medium-sized flying insects. In some cases, banana spiders have been observed eating beetles and dragonflies.

where do banana spiders live?

Banana spiders can be found in different regions of the globe. In South and Central America, banana spiders can be found in banana plants. There are some known as golden silk orb-weavers who live in warm regions such as Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas while others live on islands in the Pacific Ocean.

do banana spiders bite?

Yes, banana spiders are poisonous and they bite humans. The bites of children are especially dangerous. The venom is toxic to the nervous system. Their bites result in symptoms such as excessive drooling, irregular heartbeats, and prolonged, painful erections (priapism) in men.

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