The size of an Armadeira
Spring is coming, and with it, many buggies will begin to visit my backyard. I hope to see lots of tiny Chicago creatures, and put my macros to work :)
While I wait, I decided to make a post about the Phoneutria sp. spiders again because, well, they’re awesome.
Armadeira is the common name of the Phoneutria genus in Portuguese. In English they are known commonly as brazilian wandering spiders.
There are 8 species in this genus. Out of these, 5 are exclusive to the Atlantic Forest region:
Map from Biodiversity Hotspots
The Atlantic Forest, being near the coast and in a region of Brazil with very fast metropolitan growth, has been massively devastated. Today, only 7% of the forest remains :(
It’s very common to hear reports of wild creatures “invading” the cities. Sometimes the firemen have to capture an alligator or a large feline from somebody’s backyard, and even in the heart of a 20 million inhabitants city, you can still see capybaras feeding by the shores of the polluted rivers.
Naturally, spiders and other arthropods are also common visitors even in urban areas. That, along with Phoneutria sp. feisty temper and living habits contributes to the large number of spider accidents every year.
Fortunately for me, the little piece of the world where I grew up is one of the last places where you can still find parts of the forest untouched by men. Our neighborhood is surrounded by forest preserves, and that explains the diversity of insects, arachnids, and all kinds of animals I would find in my backyard. Growing up among such a diversity of animals, both dangerous and harmless, teaches you to respect nature and to know your place.
Uh.. oh yes, armadeiras.
So, since there are 8 different species, the sizes vary quite a bit. The two more commonly seen in the South East (where I lived) are the P.nigriventer and the P. keyserlingi.
The P. nigriventer is not that big (for a Brazilian’s standards anyway). They grow up to 3 inches, which is about the same as many wolf spider species we get in Brazil. That causes a lot of confusion to be made. If you’re in Brazil, and you’re not very familiar with these spiders, it’s best to give it a very careful poke with a broom and see how it reacts. If it runs away, it’s a wolf spider, if it tries to kill you, it’s an armadeira.
Here I put a 5 cents coin for size. It’s about the same size as a nickle.
Now, the P. keyserlingi is huge. They can grow up to 5 inches, which is just a little smaller than my hand. These tiles were 1 foot long.
I have never seen any of the other species in person, but they all seem to be within that 3-5 inches range.
Talking about the deforestation of the Atlantic made me a little sad. Here’s a song that will make sense to my 1 or 2 Brazilian readers.
The size of an Armadeira by The Bug Lady, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.