The Brazilian wandering spider is one of the most venomous animals in the world, not limited to just spiders. As the name suggests, this genus of spider is found naturally in South and Central America, particularly in the tropical locations. Its genus name is Phoneutria, meaning “murderess” in Greek. Scientists have discovered eight species of this particular wandering spider, the most venomous being the Phoneutria nigriventer, which means “black belly”. Additionally, the Brazilian wandering spider is referred to as “aranhas-armadeiras” or “armed spider” in Portuguese.
According to the 2010 Guiness World Records, the Brazilian wandering spider was said to be the most dangerous arachnid in the world, however its deadliness is relative to its size. The normal, average sized Brazilian wandering spider is approximately 5 inches (12.7 cm) in diameter, with its legs occupying most of that length. Due to its long, agile legs, it can scurry around quite quickly, using the little hairs on its body to help the spider feel an optimal path for it to travel. A significant distinguishing trait of the Brazilian wandering spider is its large fangs that are surrounded by red bristles. Similar to other spiders, the wandering spider has eight eyes, with two of them being larger than the rest.
The Brazilian wandering spider has an apt name, because it is definitely a wanderer. Even at night, it is usually found crawling all around the forest in search of prey like lizards, insects, and sometimes even mice. Unlike other spiders, this spider is a nomad, preferring to keep wandering around instead of living in a web. This trait is why tropical forests such as the Amazon typically have no or few spider webs from tree to tree. Brazilian wandering spiders are so frequently wandering that it has even been discovered in banana shipments sent to the US. This discovery is what led to them being nicknamed “banana spiders”. Being more of a night creature, in the day these spiders hide in dark places like termite hills, hollowed logs, stacks of clothes and firewood, and even inside shoes.
Mentioned earlier, the wandering spider is highly venomous. In fact, it is so toxic that even a tiny amount of its venom, 0.00000021 oz. (approximately .006 mg) is sufficient to fell an average sized mouse. Its bite, not only being toxic, can also cause extreme pain due to the large fangs on the spider. The venom can cause difficulty breathing due to paralysis, which can eventually lead to death. Spider bites can be particularly dangerous for men, since it can result in priapism, a medical condition in which blood flows to the penis and remains there, resulting in a prolonged and painful erection that can cause impotence. What truly makes the Brazilian wandering spiders a threat to humans are their large populations found in communities in South America.