“What kinds of spiders can you find in Portugal?“
Many people are terrified of spiders and find them extremely creepy. This is unfortunate because not only are most spiders completely harmless, they are crucial to our environment by controlling the insect population. In fact, without spiders, our food supply would be in serious jeopardy.
Before we begin, I want you to know that the list below is just a fraction of the spider species found in Portugal. Because of the sheer number of these arachnids, it would be impossible to cover them all. For example, some estimates claim there are over 50,000 kinds of spiders on the planet (and the list is still growing)!
With that being said, I did my best to develop a list of spiders that are MOST often seen and easily identified.
Here are the 23 MOST common SPIDERS found in Portugal!
#1. Cross Orbweaver
- Araneus diadematus
Also known as the European Garden Spider, Cross Spider, Orangie, or Pumpkin Spider.
- Colors range from extremely light yellow to very dark grey.
- All individuals have white markings across the top of the abdomen, with four or more segments forming a cross (LOOK AT THE PICTURE ABOVE).
- Females range in length from 6.5 to 20 mm, while males range from 5.5 to 13 mm.
Cross Orbweavers are one of the most well-known spiders in Portugal.
These spiders are common in many habitats, including forest clearings, hedgerows, meadows, and gardens. They are also seen near humans, such as near buildings or lighted stairwells. Cross Orbweavers typically hang upside down at the center of their spiral webs.
Cross Orbweaver Range Map
Interestingly, when approached, they start shaking and vibrating their web in hopes of startling the perceived intruder. If this fails, then the spider will typically drop straight down out of sight. Luckily, Cross Orbweavers are not aggressive and typically only bite when accidentally grabbed. Bite symptoms include mild pain, redness, and swelling that lasts for a few days.
Believe it or not, these common spiders build a new web EVERY DAY. Yes, they eat the entire web every night and then begin construction on a new one. And lastly, if you are a male Cross Orbweaver, you must be careful with females, as you will often be eaten directly after mating!
#2. European Nursery Web Spider
- Pisaura mirabilis
- Slender abdomen with LONG legs (the fourth one is the longest).
- Colors range from light to reddish brown and from gray to black. A lighter stripe is visible down the middle of the back.
- The male is between 10 and 13 mm, while the female is 12 to 15 mm.
These spiders are commonly found in Portugal in tall grass, shrubs, or along the edges of woodlands.
Looking similar to wolf spiders, European Nursery Web Spiders get their name for how females protect their egg sacs. After carrying the egg sac in her mouth for a bit, she hides it under a leaf and spins a protective silk enclosure around the egg sac. From there, she sticks around to protect the babies until after their first molt. 🙂
European Nursery Web Spiders have a fascinating mating ritual! First, males find a gift, such as a dead insect, to offer to a prospective female. Then, after presenting the gift, the female will bite onto the gift if she is interested. From there, the male will move to deposit sperm with his pedipalps. WATCH THIS BEHAVIOR BELOW (and to see if the male survives)!
Interestingly, during copulation, the male almost ALWAYS keeps a leg on the gift, just in case the female decides to run away with it or attack him. If the female does change her mind about mating and starts to show aggression, the male typically will pretend to play dead until she calms down, at which point he may try mating again. The things spiders will do for love!
#3. Long-bodied Cellar Spider
- Pholcus phalangioides
- The cephalothorax (head) and abdomen are different shades of brown.
- Females have a body length of around 8 mm, with males slightly smaller.
- Legs are long and about 5 to 6 times the length of the body.
Do you know the spider that always seems to be in the corner of your basement? Well, it’s most likely the Long-bodied Cellar Spider! These long, thin, and delicate spiders are commonly found in Portugal in homes and buildings as they prefer warm habitats (they originate from subtropical climates in Asia). I know that every time I clean my basement with a vacuum, a few of these spiders end up getting sucked inside.
Long-bodied Cellar Spider Range Map
Some people find cellar spiders beneficial because they are known to hunt down and kill other types of spiders. But unfortunately, they will also eradicate native spider species. Interestingly, these spiders will leave their webs to hunt for other spiders! Once they find one, they subdue their victim, using their long legs to avoid being bitten in retaliation.
Despite their proximity to people, they are not dangerous and are not known to bite humans.
#4. Goldenrod Crab Spider
- Misumena vatia
Also called the Flower Spider or Crab Spider.
- Females can grow up to 10 mm (0.39 in) while males are quite small, reaching only up to 5 mm (0.20 in).
- They are usually yellow or white or a combination of these two colors. Shades of pale green and pink also exist.
- This species has a wide, flat body.
Crab spiders get their name from the unique way they can walk sideways, forwards, and backward, similar to a crab.
Goldenrod Crab Spiders primarily prey on insects much larger than themselves. To accomplish this feat, they rely on venom, which immobilizes their victims. But have no fear, as the venom is not dangerous to humans and their fangs are not powerful enough to penetrate our skin.
These spiders have the unique ability to change their color depending on the flower they are resting on, which helps them stay camouflaged as they hunt! Their color can also change depending on their diet, as colorful prey can show through their thin, transparent epidermis. For example, eating red-eyed fruit flies can make the abdomen turn pink. 🙂
#5. Zebra Jumping Spider
- Salticus scenicus
- Their anterior median eyes are large, which gives them excellent binocular vision.
- The coloration looks like a zebra; black with white stripes.
- Female spiders are 5–9 mm long, while males are 5–6 mm.
Zebra Jumping Spiders are primarily found in Portugal in open, vertical habitats. Rock faces and tree trunks provide good habitat, but they are also found in close proximity to humans on the walls of buildings and garden fences. You should also check the corner of the windowsills in your house, as they are sometimes found there too. 🙂
Jumping spiders don’t use webs to capture prey but instead use their incredible eyesight to hunt smaller spiders and other invertebrates. Once their victim is sighted, they move slowly towards it until they are close enough to jump on and make the kill, similar to how a cat hunts. Then, just in case they miss the target, they attach a silk thread to a surface so they can climb back up and try again!
Zebra Jumping Spider Range Map
To try and impress a potential mate, male Zebra Jumping Spiders will conduct a courtship dance by waving their front legs and pedipalps while also moving their abdomen up and down. A better dance increases the likelihood that the females will want to mate with the male. Males must be VERY careful when approaching the female; if the dance isn’t good enough, they risk being eaten.
#6. Walnut Orbweaver
- Nuctenea umbratica
- Wide and flattened with leathery skin. Females grow up to 15mm, males only 8 mm.
- Color ranges from red-brown and grey-brown to black.
- A dark, yellowish, leaf-like marking covers its back, where small dents are visible.
The best time to see this common garden spider in Portugal is at night.
During the day, Walnut Orbweavers, which are also called “Evening Spiders,” hide in all sorts of small crevices and cracks. Their flat body allows them to fit into some very confined spaces! They are often found in close proximity to people near garden sheds, fences, walls, or under bark.
Walnut Orbweaver Range Map
Once the sun goes down, these timid spiders build an orb-shaped web that can reach up to 70mm across. If you find one of these webs at night, you should be able to see the Walnut Orbweaver sitting in the center.
#7. Giant House Spider
- Eratigena atrica
- Mainly brown, but they have a lighter marking towards the front of their back with three light spots on each side that form an arrow-like shape pointing toward the head.
- Towards the back is a lighter middle line with six spots on each side.
- Their legs and body are hairy.
This species is one of the LARGEST spiders in Portugal!
The bodies of females can reach 18.5 mm in length, with males slightly smaller at around 12 to 15 mm long. Their long legs make them appear even larger, as the leg span of females can measure up to 45 mm!
Giant House Spider Range Map
Naturally, Giant House Spiders are found in caves or forests under rocks. But they have adapted well to humans and now are commonly found in peoples’ homes in corners or other rarely disturbed places. Like most spiders, they possess venom to subdue their prey, and if you are bitten, the effects of the toxins may be felt. Luckily, they rarely bite unless provoked.
You may be surprised at how FAST Giant House Spiders are! In fact, they held a Guinness Book World Record for the fastest spider species until 1987, when it was dethroned by solifugids, which I don’t think should count since they aren’t even true spiders!
#8. Pink Crab Spider
- Thomisus onustus
- Females measure 7–11 mm. Males are much smaller and range between lengths of 2–4 mm.
- Females are pink, yellow, or white. Males are brown to green-yellow.
- Both sexes have a triangular-shaped body.
The best places to find Pink Crab Spiders in Portugal are on flowers or other vegetation that is low to the ground.
They differ from other similar species in that they prefer to sit in the center of flowers, as opposed to the petals.
Pink Crab Spider Range Map
Pink Crab Spiders don’t use webs to catch their prey. Instead, they sit and wait inside flowers for something to eat. Once a suitable victim comes by, they use their long forelegs to ambush it and make the kill. Interestingly, when insects are in short supply, such as during bad weather, they eat pollen and nectar to avoid starvation.
Lastly, they have developed a mutualistic relationship with certain plant species as these spiders feed on and help deter harmful insects. In fact, some plants even release an emission after being attacked that attracts Pink Crab Spiders in the hopes they feed on the intruder(s).
#9. Radiated Wolf Spider
- Hogna radiata
Wolf spiders are one of the most recognizable spiders in Portugal!
They are found everywhere and in almost any habitat. I know that I see them often when flipping over rocks or logs. Unfortunately, there are so many individual species of wolf spiders that it would be impossible to list them here, especially since most look very similar.
But the most common wolf spider in Portugal is the Radiated Wolf Spider (Hogna radiata).
Interestingly, wolf spiders do not make webs to catch their prey. Instead, they wait for an insect to walk by and then chase it down using their incredible eyesight! They also have retroreflective tissue in their eyes, which produces a glow if you flash light on their face.
Radiated Wolf Spider Range Map
Wolf Spiders will bite if provoked, but they do not always inject venom. Therefore, they are not considered dangerous to humans. Bite symptoms are minimal and may cause itching, swelling, and mild pain.
#10. Wasp Spider
- Argiope bruennichi
- Striking yellow and black markings across its body.
- The legs also have stripes.
- Females are around 17 mm. Males measure less than 5 mm.
This species is one of the most recognizable spiders in Portugal!
These spiders get their name from their unique coloration, which is meant to resemble a wasp. Predators tend to leave them alone since they think they will be messing with a fierce stinging insect. 🙂
Wasp Spiders make beautiful orb-shaped webs in the morning. Interestingly, they construct a distinctive zig-zag pattern in the center of the web, which is thought to help attract insects by reflecting UV light. Look for them in sunny, open fields or gardens.
Despite their bright coloring, Wasp Spiders are not dangerous to humans. They are not aggressive and will only bite if seriously provoked.
#11. Napoleon Spider
- Synema globosum
- Large, circular abdomen that can be red, yellow, or white with a black pattern.
- Males reach 2–4 mm, while females are 7–8 mm long.
I want you to look closely at the black pattern on the back of the Napoleon Spider. If you use your imagination, can you see the silhouette of Napoleon wearing his iconic hat? Whether you agree or not, this is how this species got its name!
To find these spiders in Portugal, look for them on flowering plants waiting for their prey. Napoleon Spiders don’t make webs but instead use their two pairs of elongated front legs to hunt and immobilize their victims.
#12. Cricket-bat Orbweaver
- Mangora acalypha
- Females grow up to 6 mm, with males being roughly half the size.
- The abdomen is normally yellowish with black markings.
If you look closely at the black markings on the abdomen, there are three rows of black spots followed by a longitudinal line. If you use your imagination, this pattern loosely resembles a “cricket bat,” which is how the Cricket-bat Orbweaver got its name!
These spiders are common in Portugal in meadows, gardens, and open forest clearings. They are very small and can be easy to miss but are normally situated in the center of their small, dense, orb-shaped web. The webs are normally built fairly low to the ground to catch small flying insects.
#13. Mediterranean Spiny False Wolf Spider
- Zoropsis spinimana
- Males reach a length of around 10–12 mm, while females are between 15–18 mm long.
- The body is brownish with darker markings.
- The abdomen has a black stripe that ends halfway down.
As the name suggests, Mediterranean Spiny False Wolf Spiders look a lot like wolf spiders, but they are not related. First, their eyes are more spread out along the front third of the cephalothorax than wolf spiders.
And second, Mediterranean Spiny False Wolf Spiders are commonly found in people’s homes, as they prefer warmer temperatures. In contrast, true wolf spiders are almost never found in or around houses! Zoropsis spinimana has slowly expanded its range into colder climates, mostly due to the fact they can escape inclement weather by living inside.
Mediterranean Spiny False Wolf Spider Range Map
These spiders don’t build webs and actively hunt their prey. In addition, they are mostly nocturnal.
#14. Tropical Tent-web Spider
- Cyrtophora citricola
- Mainly brownish with grey hair, but individuals vary in color.
- Females tend to resemble leaf debris.
- Body length in females normally reaches 10 mm, with males being much smaller at only 3 mm long.
This species might be the most social spider found in Portugal.
Look for Tropical Tent-web Spiders living in colonies that can get so large they span across entire trees. Within the colonies, all of the webs are attached to each other with communal webbing. Even with so many spiders living near each other, they are very peaceful to members of the same species.
Tropical Tent-web Spider Range Map
Tropical Tent-web Spiders got their name because of the unique webs they construct. First, they build a horizontal orb web which is then followed by a network of webs above that resemble a tent. The point of the tent is that it deflects insects into the orb web to be consumed.
And unlike most other spiders, the web is not sticky! One big advantage of a web that isn’t adhesive is that it does not need to be re-spun each day, which saves them lots of energy and time.
#15. Half-edged Wall Jumping Spider
- Menemerus semilimbatus
- Yellowish or greyish with a pattern of several white V-shaped markings.
- Large, forward-facing eyes. Covered in grayish-white hairs.
- Females are about 6.5–8.4 mm long, with males being slightly smaller.
These jumping spiders are usually found in Portugal living near humans.
Half-edged Jumping Spiders seem to benefit from the artificial environments created by backyard gardens. Look for them on flat surfaces, such as the sides of buildings or fence posts, which provide perfect areas for them to hunt prey. They are even comfortable living inside houses. 🙂
Like all jumping spiders, this species does not make webs. Instead, Half-edged Wall Jumping Spiders have excellent eyesight to actively locate their next meal. They also have the unique ability to jump, which they use to pounce on prey or leap from plant to plant.
#16. Lobed Argiope
- Argiope lobata
- The female’s abdomen has black and white stripes and appears jagged, or as many people say, “lobed.”
- Males have the same coloration but don’t have the lobes on the abdomen.
- Females are large and grow up to 25 mm long. Males are much smaller and only measure around 6 mm.
It’s hard to miss a female Lobed Argiope if you come across one. In addition to being incredibly large, they have a unique body shape and coloration that make them stand out. They are usually found in bushes in warm rocky areas that are dry and sunny.
Lobed Argiope Range Map
Make sure to look at the center of their web, as you should see a zig-zag stabilimenta, which is a silk-shaped web decoration. Scientists aren’t exactly sure what the purpose is of having a stabilimenta, but the dominant theory is that it helps attract insects to the web by reflecting UV light. Interestingly, it is said that after E. B. White observed a stabilimenta in a spider’s web, he was inspired with the idea of a writing spider for his book Charlotte’s Web.
Despite its intense appearance, the venom from a Lobed Argiope bite is not dangerous to humans.
#17. Marbled Cellar Spider
- Holocnemus pluchei
- Legs are thin, long, and fragile.
- Black and white circles wrap around the leg joints.
- The bodies of both sexes range in size from 5-7.5 mm.
The best place to find a Marbled Cellar Spider in Portugal is in your house!
They are commonly found living in the corners of basements and attics. You have nothing to fear, though, as even though they have venom to subdue their prey, their jaws are not strong to bite a human.
Marbled Cellar Spider Range Map
These spiders display an interesting behavior where individuals will join together and share an existing web. In addition, most spiders will migrate to many different webs over their lifetime. It’s been observed that Marbled Cellar Spiders living together in groups have a smaller abdomen, which means they are probably eating less than if they were by themselves. But the trade-off is that they don’t have the energetic costs of making their own web.
It has actually been very hard for researchers to figure out the lifespan of a Marbled Cellar Spider because of their habit of migrating to new webs!
#18. Cucumber Green Spider
- Araniella cucurbitina
- Females can grow up to 4.5–9.5 mm, while males only up to 3.5–4.5 mm.
- Adults have a distinctive yellowish-green abdomen with small black dots.
- The rest of the body is light yellow to red-brown.
Cucumber Green Spiders in Portugal blend in well with their surroundings.
Look for their orb-webs weaved between leaves and flowers along the edges of woodlands, hedgerows, and other wooded areas. These spiders should be a welcome addition to your garden, as their favorite foods include flies, aphids, mosquitoes, and midges!
Cucumber Green Spider Range Map
Another species, Araniella opisthographa, is almost identical to the Cucumber Green Spider. The only way to tell them apart is by using a microscope.
#19. Triangulate Combfoot
- Steatoda triangulosa
- Small spiders that are only 3-6 mm in length.
- The cephalothorax (head) and legs are brownish-orange.
- The round, bulbous abdomen is creamy in color. Look for the triangle-shaped pattern on top.
These spiders are found in Portugal NEAR PEOPLE!
Triangulate Combfoots are primarily house spiders and are typically observed in corners, especially in basements or rooms that are not often used. Although native to Eurasia, they have now spread across the entire world, moving from house to house. 🙂
Triangulate Combfoot Range Map
Honestly, there are probably a few in your home right now, but you shouldn’t be scared of Triangulate Combfoots. They are actually helpful because they feed on small insects and pests in your houses like ticks, ants, pillbugs, and other spider species (even potentially dangerous ones).
Even though they are relatively docile, bites occur due to their proximity to humans. But have no fear; their venom is not dangerous (unless you are allergic).
#20. Silver-sided Sector Spider
- Zygiella x-notata
Also called the Missing Sector Orb Weaver.
- Females have a body size of 5-11 mm in length, while adult males have a body size up to 7 mm.
- The head and legs are yellow-brown.
- The abdomen has a silvery sheen and a wavy leaf-like mark.
Silver-sided Sector Spiders are common in Portugal in areas inhabited by humans.
Their orb-webs are often found on walls, fences, window frames, and even on boats and docks. Naturally, these locations are incredibly sought after by these spiders, so don’t be surprised if you find multiple individuals living extremely close together, with each one residing in its own web.
It’s possible to identify one of these spiders just by looking at its web! You will notice a missing section at the top of the web, but if you look closely, you should see a “signal thread” that connects the center of the web to where the spider is hiding.
The signal thread is like a safety line. The spider attaches it to the surface it is jumping from so that if it misses its target, it can climb back up and try again. This spider often sits away from its web in a “retreat” but is still connected by the signal thread. That way, it will know immediately when anything makes contact with the web, such as its next meal.
#21. False Black Widow
- Steatoda grossa
Also known as the False Widow, Cupboard Spider, or Dark Comb-footed Spider.
- Females measure 6-10.5 mm in length. Males are similar in size but thinner.
- Dark colored with a round, bulbous abdomen.
- The female abdomen is more rounded than the male.
As the name suggests, many people commonly confuse this spider with the venomous Black Widow. But luckily, Steatoda grossa is not dangerous, and it’s easy to differentiate because they don’t have the ominous red shapes on the abdomen.
False Black Widow Range Map
False Black Widows are considered cosmopolitan species, which means they are common to find in and around homes. They prefer dark areas, such as under furniture or basement corners. These spiders normally don’t bite unless they are accidentally pinched or squeezed. But if you are bitten, they may potentially cause you some harm, unlike most spiders. Common symptoms include blistering, muscle spasms, pain, fever, sweating, and a general feeling of discomfort lasting for several days.
Here are two facts about False Black Widows that I found fascinating!
- Females can live up to six years! Males live shorter but still up to 1.5 years.
- As long as they have access to water, they can live several MONTHS without food.
#22. Noble False Widow
- Steatoda nobilis
- Their brown bulbous abdomen has cream-colored markings that resemble the shape of a skull.
- Females are 9.5 to 14 mm in size, while males are 7 to 11 mm.
- Individuals vary considerably in color and size.
This spider is an invasive species in mainland Portugal, as it originates from Madeira.
Unfortunately, its population is still spreading, and it is considered one of the most invasive spiders in the world. Look for them both in and around your house. When the weather turns cold, these long-lived spiders (up to five years) retreat to the warm climate your home provides.
Noble False Widow Range Map
Noble False Widows get their name because of their resemblance to Black Widows and other venomous spiders. While they are not as dangerous to humans as Black Widows, their bite can be problematic. First, while the bite is painless, the release of venom into you causes intense pain and has been compared to receiving a bee sting, along with subsequent symptoms.
Second, these spiders carry pathogenic bacteria, which can cause an infection that is resistant to antibiotics. General symptoms from a bite include fever, general discomfort, and swelling. But luckily, bites are incredibly rare!
#23. European Harvestman
- Phalangium opilio
Also called Daddy-long Legs.
- Females have a body length of 6–9 mm. Males are slightly smaller at 4–7 mm. Legs are long and thin.
- The body has a three-lobed darker “saddle,” usually with spots or dashes.
- Single body region, only two eyes that do not see well.
Harvestman might be the most recognizable spiders in Portugal!
They are found in a wide range of habitats, including gardens, fields, hedgerows, lawns, green places in built-up areas, or even hiding underneath kids’ playground equipment. They are also very social, and it’s common to find them in large groups.
But here’s the crazy thing:
Even though harvestmen look like spiders, these arachnids are technically NOT spiders! They are in the Order Opiliones and have no venom, lack fangs, and do not bite.
In addition, they can swallow solid food, which allows them to eat small insects, fungi, dead organisms, bird dung, and other fecal matter. This trait differs from spiders that only eat their prey after turning them into a liquid.
Check out these other guides about animals found in Portugal!
Which of these spiders have you seen before in Portugal?
Leave a comment below!