Banana spiders are known for their large and super strong webs. They’re common in the United States and prefer to live in warm regions. You’ll find them starting in North Carolina and sweeping west to Texas and California.
These yellow- to orange-colored insects have many unique attributes to appreciate. Just don’t appreciate them too closely — banana spiders can bite if severely provoked.
Keep reading to find out more, including if you should be worried about a banana spider bite.
Yes, banana spiders do bite humans — but they don’t really like to. Scientists know them to be very shy spiders, meaning they try to avoid people whenever possible. You’d really have to scare or threaten a spider to make it bite you, such as by holding or pinching it.
A bite from a banana spider may be uncomfortable, but it’s not as harmful as bites from other spiders, like the brown recluse or black widow spider. A banana spider bite is usually less painful than a bee sting and doesn’t cause any further symptoms.
The typical symptoms of a banana spider bite are redness, blistering, and pain at the bite area. It’s possible that a person could experience an allergic reaction to the banana spider. This would cause symptoms like:
- breathing problems
If you or a person you know is experiencing these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
Otherwise, you can take the following steps to treat the banana spider’s bite at home:
- Apply a cloth-covered ice pack to the bite for 10 minutes at a time. This will help to reduce stinging and swelling.
- Keep the bite area clean by washing it with soap and lukewarm water.
- If the area starts to blister, you may wish to apply an antibiotic ointment to reduce your infection risk.
- Apply a corticosteroid or antihistamine cream to alleviate itching. You can also take antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) to lessen your symptoms.
- Apply aloe vera gel to irritated skin. You can use gel straight from an aloe vera plant in your home or purchase the gel over the counter.
If the bite’s appearance doesn’t improve in a few days, see a doctor.
Known scientifically as Nephila clavipes, banana spiders get their name from produce sellers who often find these spiders in banana shipments from South America.
Other names for the banana spider
Other names for the banana spider include:
- calico spider
- giant wood spider
- golden silk orb weaver
- golden silk spider
- writing spider
Males and females look different
Scientists call banana spiders sexually dimorphic. This means the male banana spider and the female banana spider look very different from each other. Most people wouldn’t even realize these spiders are in the same species if put side by side.
Here’s a comparison of key features:
|Male banana spiders||Female banana spiders|
|about 0.02 inches long||about 1 to 3 inches long|
|dark brown in color||have yellow spots on their abdomen|
|have brown and orange legs with furry tufts|
Their web silk is unusually strong
The spider is the only species of the genus Nephila that lives in the United States and other areas of the Western hemisphere.
The name Nephila is Greek for “fond of spinning.” This seems appropriate, as banana spiders can weave webs up to 6 feet in size. And the silk used to spin these webs is incredibly strong.
In fact, according to a study published in the journal
They eat flying insects
The banana spider web is designed to attract and ensnare a number of insects, including:
- small butterflies
They live in forests and open spaces
You’ll usually find banana spiders in open spaces in forests and clearings. The males usually start to appear in July, with the females following in late summer to early fall.
Trail runners and mountain bikers may get a face full of banana spider web if they aren’t careful in the late summer.
The spiders spin their webs in places where flying insects are moving, such as around trees or shrubs. That’s why people often find them at eye level or higher.
Even if you aren’t a big fan of spiders, there are several reasons to appreciate the banana spider. They prey on small- to medium-sized pests that usually plague a person in the summer, including wasps and mosquitoes.
Banana spiders also make ultra-strong silk that researchers have tried to harness in many forms. This includes as a textile fabric, especially for creating bulletproof vests.
Researchers have also studied the possibility of using the banana spider’s silk for repairing injured tissues.
While researchers haven’t yet figured out how to harness the power of the banana spider’s silk for large-scale use, they’re still studying the ways of this spider and its luminous web.
Banana spiders are medium to large in size, depending on gender, and can spin large, strong webs.
They typically don’t bite humans unless held or threatened. Their bite can irritate the skin, but doctors don’t consider them as venomous as other biting spiders.
If you do see one, you may stop to appreciate its ultra-strong web before moving along so that the spider can keep trapping insects that may otherwise like to bite you.