Venomous spider cocoon’s banana-arrival in Estonia suspected

Pärnus kauplusest avastatud kookoniga banaan.

PHOTO: Erakogu

A reader at Delice grocery store in central Pärnu spotted on a banana peel some white bubbly layer. In it, she thought she recognised the cocoon of deadly Brazilian wandering spider as described in media.

Barely managing to shoot a picture of said banana, the fruit was speedily snatched from the counter by shop assistant at Delice’s.

According to Andrus Põld, board member of ABC Supermarkets administrating Delice, Solaris Food Store and Comarket, the described banana has indeed been on sale. «The bananas linked to said incident were immediately removed from sale and destroyed; therefore, I am in no position to comment what it was, exactly,» added Mr Põld. Never before has ABC Supermarkets run into findings like this.

The bananas sold at Delice’s hailed from Costa Rica and all other cocoon cases described in foreign media have been related to bananas from Costa Rica as well. «Our fruit supplier has notified Veterinary Board food office and presented an analysis of the incident,» said Mr Põld.

Glancing at the picture, biologist Urmas Tartes said he’d be able to provide a better answer if the «cocoon» be opened and its content investigated.

«Should live eggs be inside, one might wait to see someone climbing out. Even so, it cannot be excluded that over the long journey to the food store counter, the content of the cocoon had perished. To further define what it shows on the picture will always be somewhat speculative as various species may make cocoons,» commented Mr Tartes.

The biologist added that, comparing the Pärnu picture with those on the Internet of the Brazilian wandering spider, the similarity is definitely there.

«No need to panic. Bananas are eaten peeled and a spider cocoon on the peel has no effect on qualities of taste of banana flesh inside or its nutritional value. So: peel the banana and eat it in all serenity,» Mr Tartes proceeded to encourage all who would feel endangered by the bananas.

In case of suspicions, Mr Tartes advised processing the banana peel just to make sure, as the potential inhabitant would be alien species in our nature. «The processing would be such as to cause death of live organisms on the peel. The easiest way to achieve this would be sticking the piece of the peel in deep freeze, in a plastic bag, for 24 hours. Heat treatment is just as effective – boiling water or fire,» advised the biologist.

He went on to explain that while young, the spiders are harmless anyhow. Substantial amount of venom is only found in fully grown Brazilian wandering spiders – but even the bite of such is only dangerous to humans on single rare occasions.