Deadly spiders found in bananas

banana spider

Not for the first time or the last time, the world’s deadliest spider is once again feared to be on the loose in Britain after a family spotted a nest in a bunch of bananas. Don’t worry, I doubt it is going to go on a killing spree and kill hundreds of people, although the press would probably prefer this as it will give them something interesting to report for a change.

Keith Hobbs and wife Laura fled with their four children when told that it was probably the Brazilian wandering spider, which can have legs up to 15cm long and kill with its venomous bite.

They found the deadly spider in bananas after bringing them home from Aldi in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, last Thursday.

Deputy head teacher Mr Hobbs, 32, told The Sun newspaper: “As soon as we knew what they were we just grabbed the kids, who were in their pyjamas, and ran out the house.

“We’ve spent the night in a hotel room. It’s terrifying – it’s like a bad dream.”

Hunting Spider or Banana Spider (Cupiennius salei) walking on Bananas, native to Central America

Hunting Spider or Banana Spider (Cupiennius salei) walking on Bananas, native to Central America

Personally I find this embarrassing and a slight over reaction but such is the fear when people are ignorant. Firstly, if they had even hatched, their fangs would probably be too small and soft to harm any human or pet. Secondly, even if it was a large adult who escaped from the bananas, while it will certainly be dangerous, it is unlikely to hunt you down and bite everyone in the house on some random killing rampage. 

I keep a Chilean Rose tarantula in the office and I have learnt that she has one rule – don’t piss her off! Then she is a happy and content spider. Goes with most spiders and snakes really. Don’t piss them off, try and kill them or startle them. They’re a lot smaller than you and don’t really want to die.

The family’s nightmare began when Mrs Hobbs’ parents bought them the bananas from an Aldi store in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

After opening the bag and finding the cocoon she screamed for her husband who called police and also contacted wildlife experts to identify the spiders.

When they were notified the local Aldi shop was temporarily shut yesterday but reopened in the afternoon after no spiders were found.

Aldi has reportedly agreed to pay for the Hobbs’ hotel bill and for a pest control firm to fumigate their home.

Ironically a spokesman told the Mail Online: “Recent reports alleging that the eggs of the Brazilian wandering spider have been found in a bunch of bananas at the Aldi store in Hinckley are unsubstantiated.”

The Hinckley store in question has now been reopened and all appears well.

Venom from a Brazilian wandering spider can kill a human (depending on size) in just two hours, with victims suffering nausea, hypothermia and convulsions.

It is fast-moving and aggressive, with a body up to 2 inches long, six small eyes and two large ones, and large red fangs it displays by raising its front two legs.

The Brazilian Wondering Spider

The Brazilian Wondering Spider

Declared the most venomous spider in the world by the Guinness Book of Records, it is found in South and Central America and its Greek name, Phoneutria, translates as “murderess”.

Rather than building a web to catch its prey, the spider hunts insects, small mammals and reptiles on the jungle floor. It is a true hunter. Hiding and chasing after it’s prey before sinking it’s fangs into it’s terrified victim and then sucking out the bodily fluids like a Pina Calada through a straw.

The Bite

Brazilian wandering spiders’ venom is a complex cocktail of toxins, proteins and peptides, according to the Natural History Museum in Karlsruhe, Germany. The venom affects ion channels and chemical receptors in victims’ neuromuscular systems.

After a human is bitten by one of these spiders, he or she may experience initial symptoms such as severe burning pain at the site of the bite, sweating and goose bumps. Within 30 minutes, symptoms become systemic and include high or low blood pressure, fast or a slow heartbeat, nausea, abdominal cramping, hypothermia, vertigo, blurred vision, convulsions and excessive sweating associated with shock. People who are bitten by a Brazilian wandering spider should seek medical attention immediately.

There is an anti-venom available and the toxicity and resultant death has many different factors like amount of venom injected and size of the person bitten.

Although an effective anti-venom exists, at least 10 people have been killed by the spider in Brazil and the true total is believed to be higher. The female spider will lay up to 1,000 eggs, which are kept safe in a spun-silk egg sac.

deadly spiders in bananas

A spokeswoman for Warwickshire Police said: ‘We were called at 10.10pm on June 4 to St Nicholas Park Drive in Nuneaton where a family were thought to have found Brazilian wandering spider eggs in a bag of bananas believed to have been bought from the Aldi store in Watling Street, Hinckley.

“As a precaution, the family address is being fumigated. An officer attended the store at 7.15am yesterday and the store was closed at 8.15am in case a spider had got loose. No spiders were found at the store by officers.”

Going back to October 2014, one London family found a spider in their bananas after a grocery delivery from the Waitrose supermarket chain, the Daily Mail reported at the time. The family was unloading the groceries when he (Tim) spied the venomous Brazilian wandering spider — he panicked (as you do), dropping the bananas into a bowl and trapping the spider by one of its legs. He looked the spider up online and discovered how dangerous it was, “We were terrified. We got ourselves and our kids out of the house straight away.” Unfortunately, no one seemed to want to deal with the spider: Both police and the local animal welfare group said they weren’t equipped to handle it.

In the meantime, the spider had dropped it’s leg and disappeared off to watch TV, and a Waitrose worker sent over to investigate found hundreds of spider eggs in the bananas. Waitrose finally sent a pest control expert, who battled what he called the “hard-core” arachnid and its spawn the old-school way: He stuck the eggs in the freezer to kill them and battled the fang-baring spider with a 3-foot stick until he was able to direct it into a heavy plastic container. Waitrose gave the family £240 in store vouchers, a “family day out,” as an apology.

Further reading: 107 million spiders found in a 4 acre mega web!

Four-Acre Indoor Web Was Home To 107 Million Spiders

Where there’s poop, there’s flies. Where there’s flies, there’s spiders.

So what happens when there is a lot of poop and a lot of flies.. ? Maybe like a sewage treatment plant?

Well, then, you could get a whole bunch of spiders like this:

spider web

This is a photo of a section of a four-acre web that was found at the Baltimore Wastewater Treatment Plant in Maryland. Apparently, there is an estimated 107 million orb-weaving spiders of different species assembled a “megaweb” inside one of the plant’s main treatment buildings.

If you’re afraid of spiders, then this web makes your worst nightmare a reality. Can you imagine rolling round in a web full of spiders?? However a team of scientists who studied the web found it fascinating and even published a paper about the web:

“We were unprepared for the sheer scale of the spider population and the extraordinary masses of both three dimensional and sheet-like webbing that blanketed much of the facility’s cavernous interior. Far greater in magnitude than any previously recorded aggregation of orb-weavers, the visual impact of the spectacle was nothing less than astonishing.

In places where the plant workers had swept aside the webbing to access equipment, the silk spider web lay piled on the floor in rope-like clumps as thick as a fire hose.”

The entire web was eventually removed, but these images of it, courtesy of the Entomological Society of America, should entertain you:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge










My father is my biggest pride

A touching story about a poor farmer who supported his son through college. He went without a lot of things we take for granted in life, suffered and endured to make sure his son got through college and could have a better life. On graduation day, the son said his father was his biggest pride




Concern as courts set age of consent at 12

Some LAWYERS and MPs say they are increasingly worried by what appears to be the trivialisation of child sex abuse by the courts, with the age of consent in Zimbabwe being reduced to only 12 years, although it is 16 under the Constitution.   Child sex predators are getting away with community service sentences rather than jail, with magistrates and judges reluctant to pass exemplary punishment.

Back in 2013, when a magistrate sentenced a man who had sex with a 14-year-old girl to an effective 12 months in jail. When the man appealed his sentence, another judge rebuked the magistrate, saying it was “an extremely harsh sentence that was imposed without any plausible justification as it would have the effect of further prejudicing the accused person.”

Disgusted campaigners want law reforms to align legislation with the new Constitution to reaffirm 16 years old as the age of consent and give judges more powers to issue deterrent and harsher sentences. MDC lawmaker Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said “It’s terrible,” as she surveyed the current sentencing guidelines on sexual offences against children.

Campaigners say families of victims have lost faith in the law, to the extent of making private arrangements with those who rape their children. Back in April 2015, Plumtree magistrate Livard Philemon sentenced a 19-year-old man who impregnated his employer’s Grade 7 daughter (13) to 315 hours of community service.   While observing that Conscience Nleya, of Bulilima, had “destroyed the girl’s future”, Philemon still handed out the light sentence.

1 500 children have been raped in the six months: Priscilla said that the Police: “Look at stocktheft, it has a mandatory sentence for each cow or beast stolen, but for a young girl or woman who has had her future violated through rape, there’s no such thing. “What does it mean to us women? It simply shows that cattle have more value than our children. “There’s that comparison that losing a cow is worse than having a woman raped.”

In May 2015, Future Ncube, a 19-year-old Kezi herdsman who impregnated his 12-year-old “lover” was sentenced to perform a mere 210 hours of community service by Gwanda regional magistrate Joseph Mabeza. The magistrate said while passing sentence: “Both of you exhibited immaturity and you were oblivious of the dangers of engaging in sexual intercourse.” Lawyer Alex Magaisa says while the age of consent under the Constitution is 16, in practice it is in fact only 12 years old– and the Zimbabwean courts are playing a major role in lowering the age of consent.

Writing in The Chronicle today, he said: “While it’s often said the age of consent in Zimbabwe is 16 years, it is on analysis, effectively 12 years for girls. The law says a young person is under 16, but it’s only girls under 12 who are actually protected by the presumption that they’re incapable of consenting to sex at that age.   “This is too low and exposes young girls to abuse. The average age of consent in most other countries is 16.” When magistrates have tried to lean heavily on paedophiles, they have in some cases bizarrely met resistance from higher courts.

Going back to February 2013, a magistrate jailed Gugulethu Tshuma, a 20-year-old man for an effective year in prison without the option of a fine after he pleaded guilty to abusing a 14-year-old girl. The man appealed and shockingly, Justice Andrew Mutema blasted the magistrate for being delivering too harsh a sentence. The judge, citing earlier cases to backup his point, added: “Her appearance is important because the moral blameworthiness of the man will be less if he wrongly believes, from her appearance, that she is older than she actually is. “Similarly, the girl’s character – whether she be virgin or promiscuous, a flirt or demure – must have a like bearing on whether the accused was knowingly preying on the innocent or merely risking lying with an under age but worldly-wise girl.”

I’m guessing that Muteme doesn’t have a daughter?

Magaisa says the attitude of some magistrates and judges is slowing down the campaign against child abuse. He said: “The law does not provide sufficient protection for young girls, but worse, the attitude of the judges and magistrates to sexual offences leaves a lot to be desired.” Reading some of the judgements of magistrates and judges demonstrates an influence by patriarchy which remains dominant in our society.”

Activists have attacked the law for providing refuge for child sex predators. While section 64 and 70 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act expressly states that a child under 12 years cannot consent to sex, the law becomes ambiguous on how to treat offenders who target victims between 12 and 16.   Effectively, courts are increasingly accepting that 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds are “capable” of giving consent to sex – a notion that does not sit too well with many parents, including the Information Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo who wrote on Twitter last Saturday;  “There are no extenuating circumstances in statutory rape (sex with a young person). A child below 16 cannot consent to any sexual act.

“In Zimbabwe, the legal age of consent is 16.” (well, apparently not?)

Simbo, currently a PhD candidate at the University of Zimbabwe’s Faculty of Law, said the categorisation of sexual offences into indecent assault, consented and un-consented sexual intercourse was leaving children at the mercy of child sex predators and paedophiles.   “Children are vulnerable, and as things stand twisted men can rape a child and get away with a lesser sentence as magistrates depend on the circumstances. It’s unfortunate rape itself attacks life, but sexual crimes against children can be reduced to the levels of just mere assault. “The sentences are not deterrent and can encourage perpetrators to go on rendering the law ineffective.”

Chiedza Simbo, the former director of the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association, told The Chronicle: “The problem we have is that the law is viewing minors differently… we’ve some clauses talking of children under 14 or under 12 years. “We can’t have a Grade 7 pupil consenting to sexual intercourse. We should not even be having debates about whether they are mentally capable or not.”


Misihairabwi-Mushonga says faced with an ineffective justice system, some parents are having to settle matters with sex offenders to the detriment of the victims themselves. “For me, the biggest issue that arises is that sometimes parents are forced to opt for that person to marry their child because they are not sure whether justice would be properly delivered,” said Misihairabwi-Mushonga.   Reforming the law is not an urgent national grievance, says Women’s Coalition chairperson Virginia Muwanigwa. “We’ve not finished aligning our laws [with the new constitution] but as far as I’m concerned, the constitution overrides all other laws. It’s unfortunate that our courts are still using the old legislation which has no place in today’s society,” said Muwanigwa. Herald

Meanwhile in LUSAKA (Zambia) a High Court judge has called for national reform to tackle the increasing cases of sexual offences. Mr Justice Chalwe Mchenga said the 15-year maximum sentence introduced by the Penal Code Amendment Act number 15 of 2005 had no no impact on reducing sexual offences. Chalwe said the current maximum jail sentence appeared not to have any effect as evidenced by the increasing number of people being arrested, prosecuted and convicted for sexual offences. “Since it is now apparent that the lengthy sentences that Act number 15 of 2005 introduced have not had the desired effect, isn’t it time for us to have a relook on how we deal with sexual offences and sexual offenders in Zambia?” he said.

Oscar Pistorius ‘to be freed from prison in August’


South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services said a South African parole board is set to recommend that the disgraced athlete Oscar Pistorius, who was recently convicted of killing Reeva Steenkamp (his girlfriend at the time), be released from prison as early as August.

Oscar, 28, was sentenced back in October 2014 to five years in prison for culpable homicide in the killing of his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day 2013. In South Africa, culpable homicide means a person was killed unintentionally but unlawfully.

Pistorius acknowledged firing shots through the bathroom door in his home, but said he thought there was an intruder in the bathroom and had not realised that Reeva had got up in the night.


Pistorius’ fall from grace was one of the most dramatic since that of O.J. Simpson in 1994, when the American football player turned sports announcer and movie star, was charged with murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

OJ Simpson had been acquitted in a very public criminal trial but found responsible for the deaths in a subsequent civil suit.

Like Simpson, Oscar Pistorius was handsome, successful, popular and wealthy when the charges were filed.

In his 2014 trial, a judge found Pistorius to be not guilty of murder. Prosecutors are appealing that verdict.

Both of Pistorius’ legs were amputated before his first birthday. In the London 2012 Summer Olympics, Oscar became the first athlete with both legs amputated to participate in the Olympic Games, running in the 400-meter race and the 4 x 400 meter relay.

Under South African law, Pistorius must serve at least one-sixth of his sentence — 10 months — before being released. It is said that the parole board is prepared to recommend that he be released on August 21, 10 months to the day since his sentencing.

Video below showing Oscar playing football with Radovan Krejcir, who is currently awaiting trial to face multiple charges including kidnapping, attempted murder and drug dealing.

In the 90 second clip, which was published by South Africa’s Daily Sun, the men are seen taking it in turns to play striker and goalkeeper in an empty exercise yard at Kgosi Mampuru Prison in Pretoria, South Africa.

Giraffe killer


Africa’s western black rhino officially declared extinct


According the latest review of animals and plants by the world’s largest conservation network, the African western black rhino is now officially extinct

The subspecies of the black rhino — which is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) on the Red List of Threatened Species — was last seen in western Africa back in 2006.

Poaching Rhinos in Africa has always been a massive challenge and the IUCN warns that other rhinos could follow shortly, saying Africa’s northern white rhino is “teetering on the brink of extinction” while Asia’s Javan rhino is “making its last stand” due to continued poaching and lack of conservation.

Simon Stuart, who is the chair of the IUCN species survival commission recently mentioned that in the case of the western black rhino and the northern white rhino the situation could have had very different results if the suggested conservation measures had been implemented twenty or more years ago”.




While we are probably at the point of too little too late, Stuart added that “These conservation measures must be strengthened now, specifically managing habitats in order to improve performance and preventing other rhinos from fading into extinction,”

The IUCN points to conservation efforts which have paid off for the southern white rhino subspecies which have seen populations rise from less than 100 at the end of the 19th century to an estimated wild population of 20,000 today.

Another success story is that of the Przewalski’s Horse which was listed as “extinct in the wild” back in late 1996 however now, thanks to a well organised captive breeding program, has an estimated population of over 300.

Apart from poaching, old age also plays it’s part. We mentioned the sad story a few weeks ago of a Black Rhino who tragically died at age 43.

Karanja at the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. The rhino died on December 24, 2014 at the age of 43. PHOTO | COURTESY| LESINKO OLE KOOL

Karanja at the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. The rhino died on December 24, 2014 at the age of 43. PHOTO | COURTESY| LESINKO OLE KOOL

Shockingly, the latest update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species reviews more than 60,000 species, concluding that 25% of mammals on the list are at great risk of extinction.

Apart from animals, many plants are also under threat, say the IUCN. Recent studies of seventy nine tropical plants in the Indian Ocean archipelago revealed that more than three quarters of them were at risk of extinction.

According to the IUCN, populations of Chinese fir which was once widespread throughout China and Vietnam, is being threatened by the expansion of intensive agriculture.

A type of yew tree (taxus contorta) found in Asia which is used to produce Taxol (a chemotherapy drug) has just been reclassified from “vulnerable” to “endangered” on the IUCN Red List, as has the Coco de Mer — a palm tree found in the Seychelles islands — which is at risk from fires and illegal harvesting of its kernels.

In the oceans, the IUCN reports that five out of eight tuna species are now “threatened” or “near threatened,” while 26 recently-discovered amphibians have been added to the Red List including the “blessed poison frog” (classified as vulnerable) while the “summers’ poison frog” is endangered.

“This update offers both good and bad news on the status of many species around the world,” Jane Smart, director of IUCN’s global species program said in a statement.

“We have the knowledge that conservation works if executed in a timely manner, yet, without strong political will in combination with targeted efforts and resources, the wonders of nature and the services it provides can be lost forever.”