Ecology & Interactions

Predators of P. fera  
The Brazilian Wandering Spiders are all ferocious predators and have only a few true predators. These predators are called Tatrantula Hawks (pictured below) which refers to the genus Pepsis. These organisms are wasps that are normally non-aggressive and tend to not attack anywikispaces: creative commons organisms other than spiders. The female wasps will seek out their prey, in this case P. fera, and will sting their prey, temporarily paralyzing it. The wasp will then lay an egg in the spider’s abdomen and drag the spider to a pre-made burrow. The spider will not die from the venom of the wasp but rather from the hatched wasp eating away the spider’s abdomen. Now there are other organisms that will kill the spider but will usually be because of a random struggle between the spider and large rodents, birds, or a human that manages not to get bit.
Prey of P. fera
As for the prey of this spider, it can be almost anything. This spider will eat crickets, large insects, mice/other small mammals, lizards, or anything else they can find crawling along the rainforest floor that isn’t too big for them to kill. The younger spiders that are not yet large enough to eat some of the bigger organisms as its parents, will usually just feed on flightless fruit flies and pinhead crickets. The Brazilian Wandering Spider is different than other spiders in that it will actively search out their prey other than just spinning a web and waiting for prey to fall in; this is where their name is derived from, the fact that they will just wander their environment looking for prey. Once they find their prey they will use their superior speed and size to catch the organism, inject its venom, and then eat the organism.
P. fera and humans
P. fera and humans have a very close relationship with one another in a variety of different ways. Because of their wandering nature, P. fera will often wander away from their normal rural environment and into the city where people are. These organisms actually will get scared when they make their way into the city, causing them to hide in confined dark places such as clothes, shoes, crates, or the crooks and crannies of a house or building. The majority of encounters between humans and this spider are caused by humans accidentally coming across a spider hidden somewhere in their home, at the market, or even in the streets. Bites by the P. fera rarely cause human death because of the fact that the spider will rarely inject a full amount of venom if any at all when acting in defense. However if a full amount of venom is injected it can cause death if an anti-venom cannot be reached. Although these spiders can be very dangerous to humans, the venom of these spiders is believed to have a great medical importance and is currently being researched. When males are attacked by this spider they will often get hour long and usually painful erections, also known as priapism. A team of Brazilian and American scientists found that one of the toxins in the venom, PnTx2-6, has been found to improve erectile function in aged rats. This happens because the venom boosts the amount of available nitric oxide which is a chemical that dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow. More information about the venom of this spider can be found in the physiology page.

Click here to proceed to the Physiology page