Of all the arachnids in the world, spiders are the most popular and the easiest to find. However, spiders can be found everywhere in the world except in Antarctica. Currently, there are over 50,000 known species of spiders, and contrary to what many think, not all of these spiders are venomous. Although some spiders control the insect population, several spider species with venom that are very toxic to humans also exist. Some of the most venomous spiders to ever exist are banana spiders.
However, numerous varieties of banana spiders can be found worldwide, including in the United States. Of these, Alabama has a significant spider population, and the state is home to over 4,500 animal species, including 92 spider species. So, what species of banana spiders can be found in Alabama? This article gives answers and more.
How To Identify Banana Spiders
Looking through the search results for information on banana spiders could not be a bit confusing. This is because many different spider species are categorized as banana spiders, and only their habitats and behavior may distinguish them. Despite this confusion, not all the spiders called banana spiders are related, and there are at least five different species of spiders regarded as banana spiders.
One of the most common banana spiders is the golden silk orb-weaver spider. Also known as the writing spiders (Nephila), golden silk orb-weaver spiders are carnivorous spiders with cylindrical bodies. This species of spider lives in warm climates, and if you look closely, writing spiders can make their webs in various corners of a home, like common house spiders. These spiders have no problem cohabiting with humans, and they can also be found in woodlands, grassy hillsides, and near bodies of water. They can also be found in habitats that make it easy for them to stalk and catch their prey, like bushes, shrubs, and gardens.
Red-faced banana spiders, also known as Cupiennius, are the most common and the largest type of banana spiders. The Cupiennius genus includes big, brown, fuzzy spiders with long, thin legs that are typically quite enormous. Many people mistake the Cupiennius genus of banana spiders for dangerous banana spiders. These brown, hairy, legless spiders that live in South and Central America are not at all harmful. Despite having a small amount of venom, banana spider bites don’t hurt any worse than a bee sting.
People typically refer to the venomous Brazilian wandering spider when they remark that banana spiders are deadly. Brazilian wandering spiders, also known as Phoneutria, are huge, brown, hairy spiders with lengthy legs. They may be identified by the patch of fine, dense hair on their pedipalps. Like red-faced banana spiders, Brazilian wandering spiders can also be found in South and Central America. As a result of the Brazilian wandering spider’s potentially deadly bites, which have the potential to kill small children, its vivid red mouthparts serve as a warning.
Other common banana spiders include the Hawaiian garden spider (Argiope happens) and the Golden silk-orb weaver (Trichonephila clavipes).
Banana Spiders in Alabama
The type of banana spider found in Alabama is the golden silk orb-weaver spider. It is a small, timid, usually passive carnivorous pest. Aphids, flies, mosquitoes, and gnats are just a few of the tiny pests it eats. Although their bite resembles a bee sting, those with weakened immune systems may find it dangerous.
This species, which also goes by the name writing spider or garden spider, is a member of the Araneidae family, which is recognized for its distinctive orb webs. The Araneidae family includes more than 3,000 species spread across numerous nations due to their wide range of sizes and patterns. Because they can’t see well, female spiders choose to keep a single web in spots where they are less likely to relocate. Their distinctive lower abdomen stripes of yellow and black make them easy to identify.
How To Identify Banana Spiders in Alabama
Even within their genus, writing spiders can stand out from the crowd. They immediately stand out due to their distinctive yellow and black markings, which serve as visual cues. The word Nephila, which means “love of spinning” in Greek, describes these spiders. They also spin distinctive zig-zag webs, as suggested by their name, which is another one of their distinguishing features.
Females writing spiders are larger than their male counterparts. While both males and females have eight legs and slim bodies, a pregnant female’s abdomen is rounded like a gumball. The female’s body may be orange, greenish, or reddish with lighter patches, and her legs may have vibrant stripes. In comparison to the enormous female, males are brown and barely noticeable.
Where Are Banana Spiders in Alabama Found?
Writing spiders can be found in warm and humid habitats with a certain amount of leaf cover. This is because they rarely leave their webs and enjoy spinning where they will experience the least disturbance. They cannot see well with their eyes, so they rely on their sensitive touch and variations in air pressure to “see.” By strumming their webs to produce particular vibrations, male spiders signal their presence to female spiders.
The webs of writing spiders are very wide, and as such, there is a need for sturdy structures to support them. Because of this, you can also find writing spiders between trees and buildings, and if the sun is shining bright enough, you might be able to see the yellow hues of their web.
What Do Banana Spiders in Alabama Eat?
Common prey for banana spiders is insects. Flies, moths, butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers, mosquitoes, bugs, and beetles are common insects that fall prey to writing spiders. The spider envelops its prey in silk and occasionally stores it in a portion of its web to be consumed during hard times. Writing spiders spend most of their time on their webs, unlike spiders that hunt, such as the wolf spider. Instead of going out and hunting for food, they wait for food to come to them. Even after breeding, female spiders will eat their partners.
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- The Buginator, Available here: https://thebuginator.com/banana-spider/
- Storyteller.Travel, Available here: https://storyteller.travel/banana-spider/
- AL.COM, Available here: https://www.al.com/living/2017/10/bunches_of_banana_spiders_hang.html