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With a name like “banana spider,” this yellow arachnid surely can’t be that scary, right? After all, the color yellow represents happiness and optimism. Also, how threatening are bananas? Believe it or not, a female banana spider can be terrifying to one who happens upon it unexpectedly.
We’ll explore whether banana spiders are really something you should be worried about. But regardless of the threat they pose, no one wants giant spiders hanging around. If you find banana spiders in your home or business, give Ehrlich a call at 888-984-0186 or send us a message online.
Banana spiders, or Nephila clavipes, are known by many names such as: Golden Silk Spiders, Writing Spiders, Calico Spiders, and Golden Orb Weavers. But whatever name you call them, the spider that often comes to mind is probably the female banana spider. These arachnids are sexually dimorphic, meaning the females and males look so different that many assume they’re different species altogether.
As far as banana spider size goes, the females are much larger than their male counterparts. Females can be 1-3 inches in length, but males are usually only about .02 inches long. Both are slender, but different in color. The female has yellow spots on a light orange/tan abdomen, while the males are dark brown and often go unnoticed completely. The females’ legs have brown and orange bands with two furry tufts on each leg, save for the third, shorter pair.
The banana spider web can be quite large — often up to 6 feet in diameter. These webs are incredibly strong with intricate designs. Female banana spiders weave the giant webs in forest areas, often along walking trails. They can even adjust the silk’s yellow hue to match the area’s sunlight conditions, making the web difficult to see. While this is primarily for the purpose of catching prey off-guard, it can also make webs inconspicuous to unsuspecting hikers.
Despite how threatening they may look, banana spiders are pretty shy. Like many spider species, they will only bite if they feel threatened. In most cases, a banana spider bite will only produce slight redness and pain at the bite site, less severe than a bee sting. Their venom is traditionally too mild to significantly affect a healthy adult human. But in the case of a more severe reaction, consult a medical professional immediately.
A female banana spider’s reproductive window is small. About 4 days before she molts for the last time, she will stop eating or repairing her web. It is during this time a mature male will move in and become friendly with her while waiting for the molt to occur. Once the molt occurs, the female is receptive to sexual advances for only about 48 hours. Better act fast! It is the female’s arousal that prevents her from eating her suitor.
After all of this occurs, the female spins two or more egg sacs, each holding hundreds of eggs, onto the side of a tree. Each year, only one new generation of banana spiders is born, and adults do not live long after the female’s final molt. Females will live for about one month after the molt, and males only survive for 2 to 3 weeks after.
Fortunately, humans aren’t on the list of highly sought-after banana spider prey. Flying insects of small to medium size may not be so lucky. Insects such as bees, grasshoppers, flies, wasps, mosquitoes, and moths may find themselves caught in a banana spider web and a key component of the lunch menu.
As previously mentioned, banana spiders prefer warm regions. Consequently, they’re often found throughout the Gulf states, from North Carolina to Texas. These arachnids thrive on high humidity and open space, making Florida a prime candidate for a banana spider habitat. In swampy areas or near the coast, banana spiders can be found in even larger numbers.
Though nine banana spiders died in the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster, put aboard as part of the “AstroSpider” experiment by STARS, there were plenty left behind to grow the population. Banana spiders can be a big issue, especially in the southeastern United States. If you’re wondering how to keep spiders out of your home or if you need help getting rid of them, make the spider control experts at Ehrlich Pest Control the first people you call.