Venomous Brazilian spider found in supermarket bananas; bite causes hours-long erection in men

Asda supermarket assures no more spiders present in products

Brazilian wandering spider
Brazilian wandering spider João P. Burini

A man in West Midlands was left taken aback when a brownish spider which he dismissed as a regular one turned out to be a venomous Brazilian spider. The beast was found in a packet of bananas that the man had bought from the Asda supermarket.

Neil Langley, 52, came upon the spider when he opened his lunch at work in the Department of Work and Pensions. However, he did not think much about it and went to a meeting. On returning, he found out that his colleague had called the RSPCA who identified the creature as a Brazilian wandering spider.

This spider, also known as Phoneutria, is notorious for its venom. It grows up to five inches and has distinctive red jaws. A bite by this creepy crawly causes priapism or erection in men for several hours amidst severe pain. It can also lead to nausea, blurry vision, convulsions, excessive sweating and vertigo.

In worst cases, particularly in children, victims may die hours after being bitten by this spider. There is an anti-venom available in Brazil to counter its bite.

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This particular spider was collected by an officer from RSPCA and taken to Bristol Zoo.

"I'm not scared of spiders - I actually quite like them - but the thought of having one of the world's deadliest creatures so close to you is a bit unnerving," said Langley. He also expressed relief that the spider had not crawled out of the packet and gone into his other belongings.

Asda, the supermarket chain, has stated that all their bananas are thoroughly washed, sprayed and manually inspected before being transported to the UK. "We'd like to reassure all our customers that the chance of finding a spider is incredibly low and it's even less likely that a tropical spider could survive outside of their warm climate," said an Asda spokesman.

This article was first published on January 22, 2018