The Brazilian wandering spider — genus Phoneutria, also known as army spider or banana spider— can grow to be the size of an adult hand, with thick, hairy legs almost 6 inches long. When the wandering spider takes on its defensive posture, it holds its two front legs high.
The chilling viral video shows a wandering spider crawling up a mans arm, on his bare skin. While these spiders are usually portrayed as random and mindless murderers in movies, certain individuals worldwide have learned to live in harmony with these creatures by keeping them in domestic habitats.
Phoneutria comes from the Greek, meaning “murderess”. This genus belongs to the family Ctenidae, a group of arachnids with potential medical significance to humans. They got their nickname, wandering spider, because they are known to graze the floor of the jungle at night, or spin webs in trees.
The quick bite of a wandering spider contains a powerful neurotoxin, PhTx3. Victims lose muscle control, enter paralysis and asphyxiate to death. Bitten individuals also experience intense pain and swelling at the site of the bite. Death does not always occur, but female spiders are known to carry more venom, and therefore a deadlier bite.
These creepy spiders are found throughout Costa Rica and South America, with registered sitings made in countries Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. There is evidence the species may also have been introduced to Chile and Uruguay. They are often surprisingly discovered in banana shipments— which led to their sometimes being referred to as “banana spiders”.
Regarding their medical potential, sometimes their bite leads to long-lasting, uncomfortable erections in male victims, sometimes causing permanent impotence. A strain of the venom is being tested for treatment of erectile dysfunction.
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