Categories: Food / DrinkInsects

Deadly Brazilian Wandering Spider Found in Bananas-Reported as Fiction!

Deadly Brazilian Wandering Spider Found in Bananas-Reported as Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

Shoppers have been warned to check bananas for spider eggs after a woman found a nest of Brazilian Wandering Spiders, the world’s most venomous, in a bunch of bananas.

The Truth:

Don’t believe reports about deadly Brazilian Wandering Spiders (also known as Banana Spiders) being found in fruit at supermarkets.

Many claims about shoppers bringing Brazilian Wandering Spiders home from the supermarket in bunches of bananas have surfaced over the years. Most have turned out to be false alarms, including one from England that went viral in June 2015.

The story went viral in June 2015 when a family allegedly had to flee their home because a bunch of bananas from an Aldi supermarket was infested with Brazilian Wandering Spider eggs. The Express reported that a wildlife expert confirmed that the eggs were from a Brazilian Wandering Spider, and the store was closed for half a day while it was searched for spiders.

But an Aldi spokesperson later said the eggs were not from a Brazilian Wandering Spider, and the store had been shut down as a precaution:

“The safety of our customers is our absolute no 1 priority and as such, the bananas in question were immediately removed from the store as a precautionary measure. Following independent expert analysis, we can confirm that the eggs in question were totally harmless and not from the Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria fera). Whilst our bananas are of the highest quality and delivered by one of the world’s largest suppliers, these incidents, whilst extremely rare, can occur and we apologise for the distress caused to Mr Hobbs and his family. The Watling Street store in Hinckley is now fully open to customers.”

Similar reports about Brazilian Wandering Spiders went viral in 2013 and 2014. There’s a good chance that the eggs were misidentified in those cases, too. Again, eggs were found, but not the actual spider (or insect) that laid them.

Richard Vetter, a retired research associate of entomology at the University of California at Riverside, told Live Science that it’s really hard to identify spider egg sacks without the spider that laid them, which often leads to confusion and false reports:

“Egg sacks are much harder to identify than spiders. To identify them, you need familiarity with the spider first, then the egg sack,” Vetter said. It’s unlikely that British exterminators would be intimately familiar with the egg sacks of spiders from South and Central America, he added.

However, it is possible that the eggs in question belonged to an arachnid, Vetter said. There are several genera of spider that sometimes survive the long trip from banana-producing nations — such as Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua and Costa Rica — to other parts of the world. Among them are Phoneutria and Cupiennius, two types of spiders that are commonly known as wandering spiders.

Wandering spiders are named for their tendency to wander around looking for food instead of spinning a web. As nocturnal hunters, bothPhoneutria and Cupiennius sometimes seek out shelter during the day under the broad leaves of banana trees. And because of their preference for these fruit trees, species of both genera at times wind up in grocery stores and residences in Europe and North America, Vetter said.

Typically, when one of these big, hairy spiders shows up overseas, it automatically gets labeled as a “deadly” Brazilian wandering spider without anyone identifying what genus or species the spider belongs to, Vetter said. And that’s a shame, he said, because only one of the two genera of wandering spiders, Phoneutria, contains species that could actually pose a threat to humans. The other genus, Cupiennius, contains some big, but totally harmless, spiders.

And reports that Brazilian Wandering Spiders are extremely deadly may be overblown, too. Richard Vetter said a study that looked at 422 Brazilian Wandering Spider bites found that only two people died, and they were both small children.

TruthorFiction.com has reached out to Aldi for comment on whether the supermarket has ever actually found a Brazilian Wandering Spider at a store, and future updates will be posted here.

For now, we’re reporting this one as fiction.

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