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Strictly speaking, spiders are venomous - not poisonous. The guide for this is if you bite it and you get ill - it is poisonous. If it bites you and you get ill - it's venomous.
So, what is the worlds most venomous spider?
Well, according to the GuiNness Book of records the most venomous spider on the planet - so far discovered - is the Brazilian wandering spider Phoneutria nigriventer. Incidentally, phoneutria is Greek for 'murderess'!
It also has the common name 'banana spider' which comes from its tendency to hide in banana bunches on plantations.
Unfortunately it is occasionally found as a stowaway within shipments of bananas bound for grocery stores and bulk food centers around the world. One such instance happened with a shipment of bananas that was sent to at Bridgwater, England. In this case a man was bitten on the hand by a wandering spider. However, due to quick medical care he survived, but it took nearly a week to recover following treatment
This spider is believed to have the most active neurotoxic venom of any living spider. In fact its venom is so potent that only 0.006mg (0.00000021oz) is sufficient to kill a mouse! As a comparison the Southern black widow spider requires 0.11mg of venom to kill a mouse.
The wandering spiders are so-called because they wander the jungle floor at night, rather than residing in a lair or maintaining a web.
During the day they hide inside termite mounds, under fallen logs and rocks, and in the crevices of banana and bromeliad plants. Unfortunately, Phoneutria nigriventer is also known to hide in dark and moist places in or near human dwellings. Notably within houses, clothes, cars, boots, boxes and log piles.
They have a distinctive defensive display in which the body is lifted up into an erect position, the first two pairs of legs are lifted high - revealing the conspicuous black-striped pattern on their underside - while the entire animal sways from side to side with hind legs in a cocked position. If you witness this I suggest you walk away - or if you are feeling brave - squash it quickly so it can't get you! I apologise for those of you who love spiders, but they give me the creeps!
Luckily for us, but mainly me as I live on a completely different part of the planet, the most poisonous spiders in the world are found in forests that range from Costa Rica and throughout South America east of the Andes into northern Argentina. This also includes Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. A word of warning if you do live in these areas, always check your shoes before you put them on and never put your hands where your eyes can't see!
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