Friday, October 23, 2015
The banana spider is a common name used for two entirely different species of spiders, the nephila clavipes of North America, and the phoneutria of Central and South America, the latter of which can be deadly.The phoneutria or South American banana spider is a large, aggressive spider with a body length of about 1.3 inches (3 cm). This banana spider primarily makes its home in the rain forests but can also be found in cities, where, between 1970 and 1980 it was reportedly responsible for the hospitalization of some 7,000 people in southeastern Brazil.Banana spiders go through many molting stages, but the most notable is the last stage. Approximately 4 days before a female reaches her final molt, she ceases eating and doing any web repair. Around this time, a mature dominant male will move into her web and spend a few days getting to know her. He is waiting for her to finish molting, because the female is only sexually receptive for 48 hours after this last stage has occurred.The strong web of banana spiders is complex. It is a fine-meshed orb suspended in a maze of non-sticky “barrier webs.” They make big webs, about 3 feet wide, spun in a place best suited to take advantage of the flight paths of other insects. Some scientists suggest that the silk’s color serves a dual purpose: sunlit webs ensnare bees that are attracted to the bright yellow strands and in shady spots, the yellow blends in with background foliage, acting as camouflage.