The world's most deadly spider could be on the loose in Warwickshire after a family spotted a clump of eggs in a bunch of Aldi bananas.
Keith Hobbs and wife Laura fled their house with their four children when they were told that the eggs probably belonged to a Brazilian Wandering spider. The spider can have a leg span of up to 6in (15cm) and its bite can kill. The family found the egg cocoon at their home in Nuneaton on Thursday.
Deputy head teacher Mr Hobbs, 32, told The Sun newspaper: "As soon as we knew what they were we just grabbed the kids, who were in their pyjamas, and ran out the house. We've spent the night in a hotel room. It's terrifying - it's like a bad dream."
Mrs Hobbs' parents bought the bananas from an Aldi store in Hinckley, Leicestershire. When she opened the bag and found the nest her husband called the police. He also contacted a wildlife expert.
Geoff Grewcock manages the Warwickshire Wildlife Sanctuary. He said: "We had a call from the family who had bought the bananas from Aldi and there was a clump of eggs in there. We had to determine what the eggs were and we thought on the balance of probabilities it was probably eggs from a Brazilian Wandering Spider.
"They can kill you; people who get bitten do die. I have dealt with scorpions and Black Widow spiders before, but never one of these. It is frightening.
"My advice if you see one would just be to run away as fast as possible and then call the police. Don't be brave. The bananas came from Brazil and the question now is where is the adult?
"We searched all around the house and their car, and also the mother-in-law's car as she had picked them up as well."
The Aldi store closed for four hours on Friday, but reopened after no spiders were discovered. Aldi has agreed to pay for the family's hotel bill and for fumigation of their home.
"I'm too scared to go home," said Mrs Hobbs. "If someone had found the mother spider it might have put our minds at rest – but they haven't."
A spokesman for Aldi said: "Recent reports alleging that the eggs of the Brazilian Wandering Spider have been found in a bunch of bananas at the Aldi store in Hinckley are unsubstantiated. The bananas in question have been removed from the store and sent for expert analysis."
Venom from the spider can kill its victims in less than two hours. The spider moves swiftly and is aggressive. However, an effective anti-venom is available, and studies suggest the spiders only deliver enough venom in their bites in less than 2.5% of cases.
The Wandering Spider's venom can also cause priapism in men: painful erections which last for hours and can cause impotence. This has led to the venom to be studied as a potential treatment for erectile dysfunction.