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Wandering Spiders

2/1/14 - Here's an interesting fact about the venom of wandering spiders: The Brazilian wandering spider appeared in the Guinness World Records 2010 as the world's most venomous spider. The neurotoxin causes loss of muscle control and asphyxiation, and the bite causes intense pain and inflammation. However, the venom can also cause priapism, a medical condition in which the penis or clitoris does not return to its flaccid state. These erections can last for many hours and even cause impotence! Still, scientists have broken down the components of the venoms and are studying one of them as treatment for erectile dysfunction! It seems right now they haven't been able to get the treatment to achieve the erectile function without causing loss of muscle control... Which would render the treatment pointless. Still, they're hard at work trying to figure this out. 
6 May, 2007 - UPDATE from Stefan in Germany re Jon Triffo's Photos:
Apparently in the US there had been some mis-identifications of spiders, accidentally imported through shipments from South-American countries. These spiders had been forwarded to US – Arachnologists and had been identified as a member of the genus Phoneutria. Those ID´s had been in many cases wrong, in fact the spiders belonged in many cases to a closely related, though completely harmless, genus: Cupiennius.

With Cupiennius, 2006 saw the description of a new species: Cupiennius chiapanensis. In fact this is the species that gets often mixed up with Phoneutria, as this Cupiennius species has a quite distinctive feature, that´s famous for Phoneutria, red chelicerae hairs.

P. nigriventer female (Sao Paolo, Brazil morph). Click for a larger view.

The spider you’re showing on your site about the “Brazilian wandering spider” and stating it is Phoneutria fera, is NOT Phoneutria at all, it’s exactly that C. chiapanensis.
I ask you to correct that statement. I’m well aware, that you by now can’t know, if what I tell you here is true, so I furthermore ask you, if you want to make sure, to get in touch with John Triffo and the according museum. If they should have trouble with checking this information, I will gladly supply the scientific key to the genus and, if needed, contact to the according scientists in the US. Note, that I don’t want to ask about a complete change of that site, but an addendum of one or two sentences, stating that the pictured specimen got identified as a member of Cupiennius and that this special species has caused a lot of confusion even amongst professional biologists.

 Click here for a page of photos sent in by Stefan.

Here's some photos of a spider send in by Jon Triffo,  from Saskatchewan in Canada. Here's Jon's email and his photos.
  "We have identified it as the Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria fera).  These spiders are extremely fast, extremely venomous, and extremely aggressive and are ranked among the most venomous spiders known to man. In fact, the Brazilian Wandering Spider is the most venomous spider in the New World! In South America, these true spiders are commonly encountered in peoples' homes, supposedly hiding in peoples' shoes, hats, and other clothes. It does not remain on a web, rather, it wanders the forest floor, which is how it got its name. The Brazilian Wandering Spider has another name - the Banana Spider and it was given this name  because there have been cases where these spiders unintentionally appeared on banana boats heading for the United States.   It is not to be confused with the golden silk orb weaver spider which is NOT extremely venomous These spiders make a golden silk web and are commonly found in the US and Australia and are also called  banana spiders because of the yellow colouring. " Click here for more info and a picture.
"I am a wildlife and socio ecological photographer and I am currently digitizing images for the Interactive Learning Centre (ILC) in the New Life Sciences Gallery at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum (RSM). I recently had an opportunity to photograph a large tropical spider that was donated to the RSM after it was found in a shipment of bananas at a local grocery store.

The donor, not wanting to identify the store and possibly alarm its customers, did not provide any information about where the bananas and the spider came from.

Would your school be interested in helping us identify this amazing creature? I would be happy to send you some photos of it via e-mail. You are welcome to use them for educational purposes if you wish, and I invite you to visit "TriffoPhoto" at <jon-triffo.tripod.com> and "Triffo Gallery" at <falcon.unibase.com>, the Regina Peregrine Falcon Project web site. "

"This spider is a bit more than an inch in body length, and about three inches in front to back leg length when at rest. We suspect that it is a Wandering Ctenidae, perhaps Phoneutria fera from South Brasil, or something similar. I've attached a drawing of its face and  carapace in JPG format."

Here's the drawing Jon attached.

"The Royal Saskatchewan Museum is developing a tropical exhibit based on research done in Costa Rica. Although we are highlighting Neotropical  Passerines that breed in our province and over winter in tropical  rainforests, our spider, sadly now deceased but preserved, may prove to be very useful if we can identify it with greater certainty. 

If nothing else, I  would like to add a photo of it to the Brasil Gallery in my Tripod Site."


"For interested students and spider sleuths, the fact that our specimen arrived in Canada in a shipment of bananas is a good clue. 

An experienced spider sleuth may see other clues that could narrow the field of possibilities. (Apparently, there are more than 400 species of Ctenidae!)

The so called "Wandering Spiders" are fascinating to learn about. They tend to be diurnal hunters."

"Some are highly venomous, and some are well known for occurring in banana shipments throughout the world. Admittedly, I choose my bananas with greater care when I go shopping now!"

"I would be honoured if you posted any of these pictures on your spider page. You have my expressed written consent to use them in any non commercial way you please. 

Also, I'll be happy to send you other interesting arachnid pics as I find or acquire them. (I think I have some scanned photos of a wonderful little Pseudoscorpion. I'll send some along when I find them.)"

"I hope to hear from you again.

Cheers from chilly, snow-covered Saskatchewan! (Where are those Dwarf Spiders, anyway?? Perhaps they are camera shy!)

Jon Triffo"

Photos copyright ©Jon Triffo, 2000

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