In the late summer months, those of us living in the central to southern area of Florida get used to seeing the big spider webs produced by the banana spider. These creatures – whose body can grow up to two inches long – can cause alarm, fear and trepidation for those of us who like to spend time outdoors.
These spiders, also called the golden silk orb weaver, are usually identified first by the massive golden-colored web. These webs can be between three and six feet long. When the sun shines on the web, it glows a beautiful golden color. These webs and the colors of the web are designed to attract and trap other insects and bugs. However, when the sun goes down, the webs can easily become camouflaged when surrounded by greenery.
The spiders can be either a red, green or green-yellow in color. They have long striped legs with can span approximately five inches long. Although the Florida females have bodies that can grow up to two inches long, in Taiwan these spiders have bodies that grow up to five inches long!
Although large and intimidating looking, these spiders are not dangerous to humans. Their bite is venomous, but for a human the level of venom is very small. That means that the bite can cause a welt which usually goes away in a few days. They are also not aggressive and will only bite when on the defense. On the other hand, the South American version of the banana spider, sometimes imported on bananas, is extremely venomous and should be avoided at all cost.
The spider that grows large is the female spider. The male banana spider only grows to about a half an inch long and is brown in color. The male is quite unattractive when compared to the female. Outside of the tarantula, the female banana spider is the largest spider found in the US.
There are stories that these spiders “hide” themselves shortly before hurricanes hit, although these are all anecdotal with no scientific evidence backing it up.
This spider is actually very beneficial to humans. Because they are larger and they do create large webs, they also act as great predators to other bugs and flies. They especially love to eat mosquitoes, stink bugs, grass hoppers and flies. Although some homeowners will leave the webs alone, most homeowners really don’t like them and will get rid of them. The easiest way to get rid of the banana spider is the remove the web with a broom on a daily basis. Eventually, the spider will move elsewhere.