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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!