An Austrian supermarket was evacuated after the store manager reportedly spotted a banana-loving spider capable of causing permanent erections in men.
The Penny shop in Krems an der Donau, 45 miles west of Vienna, remains closed since Tuesday over fears of the four-inch black and red spider.
Emergency services were called and warn the spider, still at large, may have been a highly venomous Brazilian Wandering Spider, known to reach Europe by hiding in bunches of bananas.
The creature is one of the planet’s most venomous spiders, and bites can be fatal after causing hypothermia, blurred vision, convulsions and, in some cases, erections. The spider’s venom is even being studied for use in erectile dysfunction treatments after it was found that a bite from one of the spiders can give male victims a painful four-hour erection.
An exterminator has been called and the banana crates in the store have been sealed, but reports say the shop will likely remain closed until next week.
Banana crates had to be sealed amid fears of the four-inch spider
A Brazilian Wandering Spider, one of the planet’s most venomous arachnid
A spokesman for the Rewe retail group said that ‘comprehensive cleaning and disinfection measures’ are now under way to prepare the store for reopening.
But authorities added that: ‘Despite an extensive search, no spiders have been found to date.’
The size and colouring of the ‘unidentifiable’ spider led authorities to believe it was a Brazilian Wandering Spider, capable of emitting a deadly neurotoxin.
Some 4,000 people are bitten by the arachnid each year, with 0.5 per cent of bites leading to death.
Much has been done to develop an effective anti-venom, reducing the likelihood of death.
But just one bite from the spider can also cause severe cramping and tachycardia, or an increased heart rate.
The Brazilian Wandering spider appears in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most venomous arachnid.
Its scientific name – Phoneutria – is Greek for ‘murderess’.
They are known as the wandering spider because they do not build webs, but instead walk the jungle floor at night looking for prey.
In urban areas, they often take refuge in houses and cars, where they are easily disturbed by humans.
In 2021, taxi driver Joe Stein found one of the spiders among a bunch of bananas purchased from a Sainsbury’s in West Wickham, Bromley.
He opened the bag to find a two-inch ‘dark mass’ hanging from the fruit and was terrified to see it twitch.
Mr Stein, from Beckenham, Kent, said: ‘I sort of had to refocus my eyes so I could see his big bony, hairy legs. It was a bit shocking!
‘Obviously I was shocked, my girlfriend was a bit shocked, finding out it was a venomous spider if alive.
‘Luckily I think it was dead, but it was enough to make us both jump and feel on edge.
The Penny Supermarket in Krems, 45 miles west of Wiener, was shut on Tuesday over the scare
A Brazilian Wandering spider, pictured, found in a bunch of bananas in Bromley, UK, back in 2021
In 2015, a British family were left fearing one of the spiders had disappeared in their house after noticing a suspicious white spider cocoon on a bunch of bananas.
Michaela Egan from Rainham, Essex posted an image on her Facebook page and friends suggested it could be a Brazilian Wandering spider.
The mother-of-two immediately put it in a sealed bag and returned it to the Rainham Tesco where staff offered her a full refund before sending the banana off to be tested.
The full-time mother said that she could have easily handed the banana to her daughter for her packed lunch.