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High traffic

On 11 October 2009, Phoneutria was linked from Digg, a high-traffic website. (See visitor traffic)


Many authorities call this spider by the scientific name Phoneutria fera. Taxonomists, help.

See the following URL:

There are several species, all of which might be called "Brazilian wandering spiders." It's a little like the "black widow" designation. Several species are similar in appeakskakkdirance and toxicity of venom. P0M 20:18, 27 Apr 2005 (UTC)

There are many spiders whose species can be distinguished reliably only by investigating the "lock and key" characteristics of their genitalia. The Phoneutria genus may have species that are more easily distinguished if you know what to look for, but my guess is that people recognize all members of the genera as "wandering spiders". As far as the article goes, it's a "many-to-one" mapping problem. Probably we should include information given in the above URL on the several species. Images available by Googling seem to be mainly of fera and nigriventer, but there are very few images available and the lack of other images may be just due to nobody having felt like taking a picture and putting it up on the web. One of the sad things about the WWW is that people publish good stuff and then the website disappears. I have a really beautiful image that I copied for my own use. Now I wish I had more than the URL because the whole thing is gone and I can't ask the author to put his/her picture up on Wikipedia. P0M 17:10, 20 May 2005 (UTC)

Zoology writers, please help out your readers by telling us where the animals live. Or are we really just supposed to go, hey, it has "Brazilian" in its name, so that's all there is to that. The spiders never wanders across any borders, I suppose.... Why not state the animals range?

Stating the range might be somewhat problematic - in the case of P. fera and P. nigriventer, these are two species that are known from human habitations, particularly in Brazil, and so their distribution with respect to human habitations is fairly well known. How well their distributions are known in rainforest areas depends very much upon which rainforest areas have been visited, bio-assayed and recorded as known locations for the species in question. It takes time and effort to survey in fine ecological detail several million square miles of rainforest! However, if the type localities of the five species listed in the main article are widely distributed on the South American continent, then you can take it as a good indication that all five species are likely to be widely distributed and overlap to a certain extent, given that these spiders are very mobile, capable of moving at a quite alarming speed, and also possess, for spiders that are nominally adapted as ground-dwelling pursuit predators of insects such as cockroaches, surprisingly good climbing ability. I'll have a chat with some of my invertebrate zoology associates and see if they can point me at some decent distribution maps sometime! Calilasseia 03:26, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

The information I've found has usually been written nation by nation, and the range descriptions have been mostly in terms of political subdivisions. (The same limitation applies to the Australian venomous funnel-web spiders.) Sometimes it is rather alarming how provincial attitudes are, how much more politics takes precedence over geography, etc. Then there are sometimes pecularities that are hard to explain, e.g., the absence of widow spiders from a substantial area in western Africa despite the fact that there are plenty of them to the north, south, and east. Similar gaps in the spider maps of various species in the U.S. may occur, but in those cases it appears that the state without a kind of spider that is reported in all surrounding states simply hasn't conducted a survey to discover what spiders are common within its borders. P0M 11:00, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Ah, this brings me to the aphorism that in some cases, the recording data for a species tells you more about the prevalence of recorders than the species being recorded - something I am familiar with as a volunteer entomological recorder! It's entirely possible that the same phenomenon affects the Brazilian Wandering Spiders, but in this case one has to take into account the fact that parts of its range may not be easily accessible. Here in the UK, there are few places that cannot be accessed by even an amateur recorder with access to a car, and some areas are subject to intensive biological recording because there is a long history of volunteer recording in the UK - finding someone willing to go out and engage in the same activity in a remote region of Amazonian rainforest hundreds of miles from the nearest outpost of civilisation is a much more difficult proposition! Even when teams of professional scientists head into such regions, the prior planning needed (and concomitant expense) is considerable, so even if one ignores for a moment any provincialist tendencies on the part of the persons conducting the recording, the logistical difficulties count for a great deal. Plus, since most of the existing geographical boundaries in that region are lines drawn on a map, a certain amount of politics is going to interfere in the process whether one likes it or not, particularly in regions where there are disputes over where those lines are to be drawn. Of course, this can be neatly circumvented by recourse to GPS coordinates, but even then you need someone to have the foresight to take the GPS equipment with them ... and equipment that can operate reliably in environments that aren't usually friendly (in terms of humidity etc) toward sensitive electronics. Calilasseia 15:02, 4 April 2006 (UTC)

Antivenom origin inconsistencies.[edit]

Quoting this article: The antidote for their poison was developed by Carlos Chagas, in Brazil.

Quoting Spiders_having_medically_significant_venom: "since the development of antivenom to the venoms of both were developed (the funnel web spider in the mid-1980's and the wandering spider in 1996)"

Quoting Carlos Chagas: Carlos Justiniano Ribeiro Chagas (born July 9, 1879, Oliveira, Minas Gerais, Brazil; died November 8, 1934, Rio de Janeiro)

I doubt he developed the antivenom 62 years after his death.

There are probably two people by that name. Unfortunately, somebody failed to provide a citation. Maybe googling for it would get the correct information. P0M 21:30, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
Was not the man Carlos Chagas and yes the Carlos Chagas Foundation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:04, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

In Fiction[edit]

"The Fear from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater used the venom from the aforementioned spider to cover his crossbow bolts with it to fire at the player. (Additionally, it is not confirmed if it's the most potent poison in the game itself.)"

In the game the crossbow bolt deals about 19% of you health per minute. The second highest is about 15% per minute. This is not 100% accurate, however i used a computer program i made to view a video i made of many different life bars going down from poison and found a semi-accurate response that it is the most deadly.

When Harry Belafonte sings the Banana Boat Song, does the verse

a beautiful bunch of ripe banana hide the deadly black tarantula

refer to this spider? (probably the most tortured rime for "tarantula" since Ogden Nash rimed them with "Los Angeles")Bob Richmond (talk) 16:29, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

"Natural Viagra" external link[edit]

I assume this link -- - Natural Viagra: Spider Bite Causes Erection -- might be the original version of the FoxNews one. I'm hesitant to change it, though, without knowing the protocols. -- Pheeboris 13:17, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

I've fixed it. P0M 03:33, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Tropical Fruit in USA[edit]

These things love to hide in bananas, and are shipped accidentally to the USA. People in the USA have found these things "the hard way" in bananas. This should be added to the article. (talk) 04:20, 23 August 2008 (UTC)

we also used to get them in europe during the 80's, but since EU regulations most bugs have disappeared on fruit/vegetables Markthemac (talk) 12:08, 2 September 2011 (UTC)


Anyone have information on their diet that they can add to the article? I'm very curious, but I do not know much about spiders myself. smooth0707 (talk) 04:53, 5 October 2008 (UTC) They do not make webs — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:59, 29 April 2016 (UTC)


Is ”spawn of Satan” an actual, traditional nickname for the Brazilian wandering spider? The source of this information seems to be an article on, but from the context, it really seems to be a joke. Should we remove the nickname? There nickname is The Armed Spiders and The Banana Spiders. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:01, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

Worth adding?[edit]

One found in banana shipment in Whole Foods in Tulsa:

Doubtful. Other experts have chimed in and are doubtful that it is this spider based on photos and video of it. Unfortunately the spider was destroyed so we will likely never know. Rowdyoctopus (talk) 19:04, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Huffington Post is a leftist blog, consisting almost entirely of opinion and lurid exaggeration, not worthy of being cited in a serious work such as Wikipedia. —QuicksilverT @ 11:06, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

they can kill YOU!!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:59, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

there cool —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:21, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

FIX FOOTNOTE - "...more deaths actually occur from Black widow and Brown recluse spider bites" - false; the Brown Recluse has killed very few people, the bite usually produces necrotic lesions that may require surgery. Also "citation needed" has not been addressed. HammerFilmFan (talk) 23:48, 25 October 2010 (UTC)HammerFilmFan


Sorry for the inconstructive edit — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:12, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Image of spider on arm[edit]

Female of P. cf nigriventer: WARNING: This and other species of the genus Phoneutria have medically significant venom and should generally not be handled

This is a striking image, but it shows a person doing something dangerous and stupid. I was tempted to remove it, but Wikipedia is not censored.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 07:32, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Just in case, I've added a ref. that specifically warns about handling members of this genus. (talk) 18:33, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. This image was added to the article on 13 December 2012.[1]. It is hard to imagine why the man let this happen, as he was probably aware of the risks involved.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 18:41, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
The photographer and owner of the arm was always a big fan of spiders and living in Brazil... well, combine that with a teenage boy's mind and this happens. In fairness, he is quite a bit older now (photo from 2007) and now a capable biologist. (talk) 18:54, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
Here is his website, which says that he was born in 1989, so he would have been around 18 when this photo was taken.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 19:16, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

Great photo, not sure of the copyright status[edit]


Can this be ported to Commons?

P0M (talk) 04:57, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

It is currently all rights reserved. Techuser could be contacted via Flickr or his website contact form to ask for permission.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 06:15, 5 March 2013 (UTC)


Before adding any substantial new material, please provide a reliable source with an inline citation. Numerous edits have been reverted in the past few days, as material was added with no attempt made to cite it for the reader.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 17:53, 28 June 2013 (UTC)


Re this edit. Ordinary hunting for prey is not aggressive behaviour, it is normal behaviour in the wild. A lion eating a zebra is not aggressive, it would go hungry and die if it did not do this. The "aggressive" label for certain ground dwelling spiders comes about because of their reputation for reacting strongly if provoked by a human.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 17:37, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

An animal which tends to attack things it has no intention of eating is regarded as being aggressive, a creature that backs down in such a situation is passive. These spiders are dangerous precisely because they will tend to attack humans rather than flee from them. This means they are described as aggressive. "Defensive" is a stupid way to label them because the word is almost always used to refer to rhetorical defensiveness or passive resistance, not biting things and killing them. Herr Gruber (talk) 15:46, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
The definition of large tropical spiders as aggressive is based largely on human perception. In practice, most spiders are not inclined to envenomate unless they feel threatened. The claim that Brazilian wandering spiders and Sydney funnel-web spiders will attack a human without warning is unfair and largely inaccurate. In most cases (eg [2] [3]) the human disturbed the spider by accident, causing it to envenomate. Humans are correctly advised not to approach or provoke Phoneutria or Atrax, because they will perceive it as a threat and will not run away when challenged.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 16:16, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
I still think it's fair to describe them as "aggressive" as a synonym for "hostile" (ie, that they tend to regard unknowns as threats and attack on that basis). Most animals have some reason to attack if they do so, the word simply refers to whether the spider has a higher tendency to do so that other spiders. Consider it as the difference between, say, a European honey bee and a wasp (or killer bee); it would certainly not be incorrect to describe the latter as more aggressive than the former, even though wasps don't just sting everything they encounter. Herr Gruber (talk) 16:49, 10 July 2013 (UTC)


This problem has come up many times over the past several years. One of the problems is that we use "aggressive" and "defensive" to describe human behaviors that may be underlain by many layers of natural reactions and socially acquired behaviors.

Maybe it is better to say that some spiders, e.g. Sydney funnel web spiders, will actively defend their territory by making threat displays and by biting if the threat displays are ignored. (If I think of an aggressive person I may remember the kid who would come across the street to beat me up whenever he saw me. The objective was not to defend a territory but to establish social dominance or perhaps to work out some feelings of anger that really applied to parents or other people. Spiders just want you to leave them alone.)P0M (talk) 06:59, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

There is a good video here showing a human confrontation with a Brazilian wandering spider. The spider assumes its warning posture, but does attack when the humans poke and provoke it, possibly with a shoe. Unwise to do this.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 07:17, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
When I was in Japan I saw a large spider on a shop window. I wondered what kind of behavior it might exhibit. So I touched the eraser end of my pencil to the middle of the window and the spider raced at an amazing speed directly toward the pencil. I was so startled that I jumped away. That behavior seemed to be "aggressive," and I wondered whether I'd finally found a spider that lived up to our worst fears. Much later I managed to identify the spider and to buy several specimens. When they were in house-window sized cages they were extremely afraid whenever I approached. When trying to transfer them to those cages from smaller cages I realized that they were so easily frightened and so likely to run away that I had to give them no chance to escape. I had to conclude that the behavior of the spider in Japan was a prey mistake. The sun was blinding that day so the spider may have only been able to take in what was directly in front of it. I was "in the sun" as far as that spider was concerned. So it just saw a brown bug-sized something land on the window, and it had been waiting for dinner to land on its plate. The behavior was based on hunger, not on anger.
The Phoneutria group do not rush across two or three feet of open ground to attack. Note that in the video the shoe had to almost come in contact with the spider. When it attacked it bit but it did not hang on while it pumped more and more venom into the attacking shoe.
When O'Leary picked a fight with Clancy *he was being aggressive. Was Clancy being aggressive when he lowered the boom? I don't think so, but I don't know a good English word to describe his character structure.P0M (talk) 23:18, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
The spider you encountered probably had an egg sac. My kitchen window dwelling steatoda grossa is normally very timid, but the last few days she's been stalking around her web looking for INTRUDERS while I was doing the washing up, and now she has a very large number of tiny confused spiders she's ignoring in the standard fashion of a mommy spider. I'd certainly describe her current behaviour as aggressive or hostile (given her normal behaviour is to either ignore me entirely or hide), even though she's doing it for a very good reason. Bones Jones (talk) 12:35, 4 January 2017 (UTC)

Trip to England[edit]

Here is another case of the spider going to England, bought at Sainsbury. John Vandenberg (chat) 23:50, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

This has received a good deal of media coverage, but it does not fit well in the "Danger to humans section" because nobody was hurt and there are numerous similar incidents in the past few years (these are in the external links section: [4][5][6][7][8][9]) The tendency of Brazilian wandering spiders to do this has earned them the alternative name of banana spiders. In two other incidents ([10][11] the spider was not identified definitively. There is an element of WP:RECENTISM here. The Bridgwater incident in 2005 is worth mentioning in the article, because it is perhaps the only recorded occasion where the spider bit the human.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 17:04, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree it is recentism ianmacm, and alsoWP:NOTNEWS applies especially when a story is sourced to gawker, The Sun, etc. I added the note here as I was sure it would cause a spat of edits, as this one is not a typical 'spider jumps out of bananas and is stomped on' event. I was right ;-) One problem is that our text gives the reader the impression that such events are rare, and it only lists one example, causing the reader to think more examples are needed. In addition, this event was reported to require a home evacuation, because the spiders made it home, the lady was eating the banana, and baby spiders popped out everywhere. The picture from The Sun shows the babies were on the outside of the banana (not inside the banana as some reports are implying, sigh); I note we dont have any information about where this spider likes to lay its eggs, or the hatching period. It would also be good to incorporate the 'one in 500 spiderlings make it to adulthood' factoid from [12], and a few other factoids in here if they can be verified with a better source. It would be ideal if "occasionally found as a stowaway" was replaced with some real statistics. says five times per year in Denmark, but that may be any spider. ABC is now reporting that Sainsbury says the spider may have been the much less toxic Cheiracanthium, which is a good reason why this type of event shouldnt be included immediately. John Vandenberg (chat) 01:50, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
The photo associated with the egg case found in England allegedly belonging to a photneutria is made by adhering it directly to a leaf. No indication of the size is given. Here is a link to a picture of a Phoneutria (allegedly at least) and its egg case. The two styles of egg case are very different.P0M (talk) 03:05, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
The notable thing about this incident (shown here) is that the spiders were hatchlings, not adults. The suggestion from experts that they may have been Cheiracanthium is also important. It is reminiscent of this incident when the Daily Mail implied that a Sydney funnel-web spider was roaming Gloucestershire in England. This is no longer in the article because it is very unlikely to be correct, see User_talk:Ianmacm/Archive_8#Spider_in_Gloucestershire_-_possible_identification_2 for the full details.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 07:50, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
One of the moderators on the Reddit/spider site said that newly hatched Phoneutria are black. The whole hysterical flap in GB seems strange. Why now? People who have some need to have something to worry about? P0M (talk) 18:42, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, it's mainly because we don't really have any venomous animals aside from adders and don't really wish for this state of affairs to change. Also the papers that made a big deal about it were the same ones who make a big deal about anything coming here that isn't from here, regardless of how many legs it has. They probably think they'll take away our spiders' webs and jobs and claim spiderdole. Herr Gruber (talk) 11:12, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Possible new trip to England[edit]

This incident in Hednesford is very similar to the one above. At present, there is no confirmation that the hatchlings were Brazilian wandering spiders, so it should not be added to the article.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 07:33, 11 March 2014 (UTC)

  • World's deadliest spiders invade says today's Daily Star. Actually they don't, because there is no news as yet on whether these were Brazilian wandering spiders beyond a supposition that they might be due to their presence in bananas. This has happened before and the spiders were not Phoneutria. Anyway, as all good tabloid journalists know, never let the facts get in the way of a good story.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 13:51, 11 March 2014 (UTC)


I noticed that there are supposedly two revisions pending approval somewhere. This procedure is new to me. Where are these alternative version? P0M (talk) 19:16, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

Fixed, ClueBot reverted this nonsense edit. Personally I would prefer semi-protection, but the edit history should show where the pending changes are.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 19:22, 12 June 2014 (UTC)

Multiple pages in multiple languages[edit]


this note is to point out that this page is not linked to the the corresponding pages in other languages, but they do exist. For example:

In other cases like French, they are even double: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:17, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

June 2015 British newspaper stories[edit]

The Brazilian wandering spider is back in the newspapers, including on the front page of today's Sun.[13] However, the text of the story uses words like "believed to be", "thought to be" and "the identity of the spider had not yet been established."[14] Until experts say that the eggs actually were from a BWS, it is a classic attempt at hyping up the danger angle. This has happened before (see the talk page archive) and the eggs were not from a BWS. If this is added to the article, it should be removed.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 06:06, 6 June 2015 (UTC)

Spiders in bananas again[edit]

Today's British newspapers have stories about a woman in Barnstaple who claims to have found Brazilian wandering spiders in bananas that she bought in Iceland (the supermarket, not the country). This is covered in the Daily Mail among others, stating as a fact they are Brazilian wandering spiders. The truth is not so simple, as the local newspaper coverage says that she "claims" or "believes" that they are BWS. It looks like a spider egg sac, but it could be from a wide range of spider species.This has happened before and the spiders were found not to be BWS by experts. It is also a good example of how journalists today slant stories involving spiders for maximum impact. This should not be added to the article.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 07:39, 19 November 2015 (UTC)

  • And again here. The same caveat applies, as it would take an expert to say whether they were Brazilian wandering spiders or some other species.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 06:23, 22 September 2016 (UTC)

It's not clear to me whether any of these stories actually refer to Phoneutria species. Where the species is given, it's often Phoneutria fera, but without evidence that an arachnologist was involved in the identification, none should be accepted as fact here. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:43, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

It's also clear that there's serious exaggeration of the danger posed by Phoneutria species, coupled with generalization from particular species to the genus as a whole. I've re-written parts, but others need work because the article does not accurately reflect sources given. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:24, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

And another trip to Britain. This time it was quite large, not egg hatchlings, and was positively identified by the RSPCA as a Brazilian wandering spider.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 07:54, 21 January 2018 (UTC)
Well, I wouldn't put much faith in the identification unless it was done by an expert in spiders. The Phoneutria species that would be likely to be found in bananas doesn't have the very dark chelicerae shown in the photo, as far as I can discover – indeed I can't find that any of the genus does. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:27, 21 January 2018 (UTC)
Looking again at the photo in the news story, the eye pattern looks wrong for a member of the family Ctenidae according to sources I have access to. (Eye patterns are usually diagnostic of families.) It seems to have four more-or-less equally sized eyes in a posterior row, with others more anterior, although that's not clear. Ctenidae have more unequally sized eyes in a more complex pattern: look at the photos of Phoneutria in Commons. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:58, 21 January 2018 (UTC)
And again in Britain, also here but not in bananas this time. This looks very doubtful to be a Phoneutria, and the body shape is more like Tegenaria. Also possibly a Thanatus vulgaris, or Cricket Thief Spider. Newspapers should ask spider experts before writing stories like this.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 07:03, 27 January 2018 (UTC)
@Ianmacm: ah, but that would spoil the story! Fake news rules if it attracts readers... Peter coxhead (talk) 08:55, 27 January 2018 (UTC)
The Sun asks its readers in the story "Do you know what type of spider it is? Email us at or call 0207 782 4368" Of course, they could have asked a spider expert before publishing the story, and been told that it almost certainly isn't a Phoneutria. Additional photos from a different angle here, and the guess is Thanatus vulgaris.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 14:05, 27 January 2018 (UTC)