Brazil: the magical land of samba, soccer, Seleção…and spiders. Big, fat hairy spiders. And snakes. And flesh-eating fish.
Brazil is a wonderful place for the World Cup, the quadrennial soccer tournament that begins there on Thursday, but it could prove problematic for traveling fans who suffer from two of the most common phobias: arachnophobia and ophidiophobia, which is even harder to pronounce when a viper is slithering toward you.
The Brazilian wandering spider is of particular concern. Not only is this beast the size of a dinner plate—it is also the most venomous spider in the world, Guinness says. There is an antidote for wandering spider bites, so deaths are rare. Its venom can, however, cause erections in male victims, which seems an unnecessarily cruel blow to a man’s dignity. Arachnophobes who suffer from medorthophobia are doomed.
The Brazilian wandering spider, of the Phoneutria genus, isn’t afraid of entering human dwellings and has a reputation of being aggressive. It is basically an eight-legged Oakland Raiders fan. There are eight known species of Phoneutria, all of which can be found in Brazil and some of which will be trying to mate throughout the World Cup. During this period, males are more likely to be found in dark corners looking for a partner.