What Is a Banana Spider?

What Is a Banana Spider?

What’s yellow, striped, and dangling in your garden? What’s that spider crawling out of a box of bananas? Probably a regional variation of the banana spider. Banana spiders are named for their bright yellow coloration or the fact that they like to hitch a ride on banana leaves. 

This nickname is a little bit of a misnomer, though, because there isn’t just a single spider that represents the “banana spider” name. Instead, there are several genera and species that could be known as your local neighborhood banana spider.

Don’t panic if you see a brightly colored spider, but be aware that some species are dangerous and have venom that can harm people or animals. How do you know which one you’re looking at? You’ll need to identify where the spider came from, what it looks like, and the likelihood of it being one of the more common types based on your location. 


“Banana spider” is a nickname used for a variety of spider species that look a little like bananas. It can also be used for spiders that are found in shipments of bananas coming from places like Central or South America. Those spiders may or may not be yellow in color.

Since no single type of spider is a banana spider, each species will look a little different. 

Banana spiders usually have yellow-colored, striped legs or yellow, elongated abdomens, but they can also be brown, red, or other colors. 

The most common banana spider in the United States is the Trichonephila clavipes. The more common name for this spider is the golden silk orb weaver, which was formerly known by the scientific name Nephila clavipes. These spiders are naturally found throughout the country as well as in places like Canada and South America. You may see one of these hanging out in your garden, suspended between plants, or making a web on your porch.

Several other species of spiders are also known as banana spiders, too, though they may not be native to North America. While you don’t normally have to watch out for them, you should be cautious if you’re involved in shipping or receiving, especially if shipments are coming in from Central or South America. Some shipments, such as containers of bananas or products stored in regions with species of banana spiders, can become infested. When they do, species that aren’t normally found in the United States end up being brought into the country and posing a threat. 

Just How Strong Is a Spiderweb? One study discovered that the golden silk orb weaver spider spins webs stronger than Kevlar. The golden-colored webbing is a shocking five times stronger than the bulletproof material, yet at the same time, it keeps better flexibility than nylon. Still, this spider’s venom is mildly toxic to people, so it’s best to keep your distance.



As mentioned above, there is no single type of banana spider. In addition to the golden silk orb weaver spider, other kinds of banana spiders include bromeliad spiders of the genus Cupiennius, Hawaiian garden spiders (Argiope appensa), and Brazilian wandering spiders of the genus Phoneutria. Each of these kinds of spiders can be found in different regions of the world, and many stay in hot or humid climates. 

What’s interesting about the shared common name is that what one person calls a banana spider may not be what another person knows as one. It’s best to be specific because there is a big difference between species like Brazilian wandering spiders (highly venomous) and golden silk orb weavers (mildly venomous), for example.

In the mainland U.S., only the golden silk orb weaver is common. However, in Hawaii, the Hawaiian garden spider is commonly seen in yards all over the islands. Other kinds of banana spiders may be found in the U.S. on occasion due to traveling via shipments from other countries. 



The golden silk orb weaver (Trichonephila clavipes) is found in the U.S, often in Florida and the East Coast. From time to time, they’re seen further north. They’re also found in Central and South America as well as the West Indies. If you stumble upon one, it’s most likely to be in an impressive, decorative web.


The golden silk orb weaver usually has a golden, yellow, or orangish-colored abdomen and long, banded legs. Their legs have yellow and black stripes. Female spiders are much larger than males at up to 40 mm long. Males are tiny at 6 mm, on average.


Golden silk orb weavers rarely bite, and they’re easier to identify thanks to their distinct coloration. Their webs are strong, and they tend to make them in the same place as long as it provides a consistent food source.

If bitten by this spider, the bite can cause localized pain and redness. Some people may be allergic.

Golden silk orb weavers make distinctive webs. Their webs are golden in color and shimmer in the sunlight. Interestingly, some people make clothing and fishing nets from their webs.



The bromeliad spider (Cupiennius salei), also known as the tiger bromeliad spider, is a large spider that is part of the family Trechaleidae. They’re most often located in Mexico or Central America, but they can be found further north as a result of trade. 


These are large spiders, usually 3.5 cm for females and 2.5 cm for males. They have enlarged palpal bulbs, giving them the appearance of small boxing gloves at the front of the head. The spiders are striped black, brown, and cream. 


The bromeliad spider does have a neurotoxic venom. The spider is capable of changing how much venom it releases based on the prey because it takes two to three days to restore its venom glands after use.

Interestingly, because it is so large and highly inactive, this kind of spider is the most studied species.

If you were to hold one of these spiders (not that we’d recommend it), it might take up the majority of your palm. While that’s large and frightening, they do have a docile nature unless provoked.



Hawaiian garden spiders (Argiope appensa) are found in the U.S., but they are largely limited to the Hawaiian Islands and the tropical temperatures there. They sometimes live in groups, so you can find them in gardens living near one another. 

Outside of the U.S., the Hawaiian garden spider can be found in western Pacific Ocean islands such as Taiwan, New Caledonia, Indonesia, Australia, and New Guinea. 


Females can grow up to 2.5 inches long, while males are usually no more than a fourth of that size. Females are colorful—they may be black, white, yellow, red, or a combination of colors. Males are usually brown.

When hanging, the female appears to make a large “X.”


Hawaiian garden spiders are not considered venomous to humans. Still, they can cause trouble for those with allergies and can bite if threatened.

The webs of the Hawaiian garden spiders are unique. They have a zigzag pattern that sets them apart and makes them easy to identify. The zigzag silk is known as “stabilimenta” and is thought to be used to help prevent the web from being destroyed by birds.



There are nine different species of Brazilian wandering spiders (Phoneutria spp.), also known as “armed spiders”. They’re all found in Brazil and in other parts of Central and South America.

In their natural habitat, it’s common to see these spiders hanging out on banana leaves. 


These spiders tend to be large with legs that span up to five inches. They are often brown, but they also have red jaws that make them more distinctive. 

They often sit in a defensive posture. When a predator approaches, they raise their front legs to signal that they’re going to attack. 


In Greek, the Brazilian wandering spider’s name means “murderess.” It is among the most venomous spiders on the planet. Fortunately, there is an antivenom, and you’re unlikely to see one in the U.S. unless it comes in with a South or Central American shipment.

If you do get bitten by a Brazilian wandering spider, some common symptoms of the spider’s toxin include an irregular heartbeat and heavy salivation. The venom affects the nervous system, and immediate medical attention should be sought.


Banana spiders (golden silk orb weavers) like to live in areas with high humidity and open spaces. That’s why Florida is known to have so many of them. However, Florida isn’t the only place that gets these brightly colored spiders.

People in the U.S. are more likely to see golden silk orb weavers in places like Louisiana or Texas. Thanks to the climate, golden silk orb weavers tend to be found in the Gulf states, but they can be found as far north as North Carolina (sometimes further, depending on the weather conditions throughout the year).

Since the climate around them affects them so much, the movement of banana spiders (golden silk orb weavers) is affected by the changing climate. Habitat destruction is another reason for groups of these spiders getting moved around the country. So, some areas that used to have these spiders no longer do, but they can pop back up as they travel and find new areas to call home. 


Whether or not a banana spider is dangerous will depend on the kind that you’ve come into contact with. Certain types, such as Brazilian wandering spiders, could cause severe health complications due to their venom. Others, like the golden silk orb weaver, are not venomous enough to cause any discomfort for those who are not allergic to them.

Remember that some spiders may be venomous enough to cause problems if a pet is bitten. However, the majority of banana spiders are passive and unlikely to attack unless threatened. 

The exception to the rule is the family of Brazilian wandering spiders and the species that make up the group because they are known to be highly venomous. If in doubt, it’s worth taking a photo of the spider and seeking medical attention. If the spider is a Brazilian wandering spider, an antivenom will be needed to stop the venom’s effects. 


Any time you come across an unsettling spider in your home that you’re not familiar with, feel free to get in touch with the field experts at Moxie Pest Control. We’re here to help, and we don’t need you to identify the spider in order to assist you—that’s what we’re here for. 

If you can, take a photo of the spider from a safe distance. Don’t handle it or try to get rid of it—we can discuss all your options for removing the pest once we identify what kind of spider is on your property. If it’s a venomous pest or one that has been brought in from another country, we may need to take additional precautions or steps to alert local agricultural authorities. We’ll help you figure out any necessary steps or control methods according to local rules and regulations. 


No one likes to walk into a spiderweb or see a large spider they’re not familiar with. If you have run into a brightly colored spider, we’re here to help. 

At Moxie Pest Control, we have you covered anytime you’re dealing with pests that make you uncomfortable at home. Whether you have a banana spider or another species that has made your home its house, we’re here to find the best solution for getting rid of any bothersome infestations.



Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!

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