What kinds of spiders can you find in Afghanistan?
Before we begin, I want you to know that the list below is just a fraction of the spider species in Afghanistan. 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.
8 COMMON SPIDERS found in Afghanistan!
#1. Middle East Black Tarantula
- Chaetopelma olivaceum
- Females grow to 5cm or larger. Males are roughly half that size.
- Coloration ranges from black, to gray, to dark brown.
- The body is covered in tiny hairs and appears velvety and shiny.
This tarantula is one of the largest spiders in Afghanistan.
In fact, they are so big that they sometimes eat small mice and lizards, although their primary food is insects. During the day, the best place to find a Middle East Black Tarantula is hiding under bark or a rock, as they are most active at night.
I’m sorry to break the news to you, but these huge tarantulas are commonly found inside homes. But despite their appearance, they are not considered dangerous to humans. You may even appreciate them living nearby because they help control pests like cockroaches.
Middle East Black Tarantulas are considered more aggressive than other tarantula species, and they are incredibly fast! It may hurt a bit if you are bitten, but the venom is typically mild. Some people even keep them as pets. 🙂
#2. Camel Spiders
- Order – Solifugae
Camel Spiders, also known as Wind Scorpions, Sun Spiders, or Solifuges, are arachnids, but they are not considered true spiders or scorpions. In fact, the 1,000 or so worldwide species of Camel Spiders are grouped in a separate order – Solifugae. In Afghanistan, Camel Spiders are found in arid, desert habitats.
These arachnids are feared by many people and are the subjects of many urban legends. One reason for their reputation is that they are incredibly fast, with their top speed coming in at 10 mph (16 km/h). Combine their speed with their spider-like appearance, and you can see how almost anyone can be startled!
Luckily, Camel Spiders are NOT venomous, as they do not have a way to deliver venom like the fangs of a spider. But, their chelicerae (appendages at the front of the mouth) are strong and can penetrate human skin, so bites are reported to be very painful.
Camel Spiders are aggressive hunters and opportunistic eaters. In addition to many types of insects, they have been observed eating birds, rodents, snakes, and lizards. They use their powerful chelicerae to cut larger prey into pieces, which are then liquefied before being consumed.
#3. Brown Widow
- Latrodectus geometricus
- The coloring is mottled tan and brown with black accent markings.
- This species has an hourglass similar to the black widow, but it’s often orange or yellow.
- The striped legs are usually dark brown or black with light yellow bands.
The Brown Widow employs a neurotoxic venom, causing pain, muscle rigidity, vomiting, and sweating. However, while deadly to their prey, the bites of the Brown Widow are typically much less harmful to humans than the infamous Black Widow.
Females create webs in isolated, safe locations near houses and branch-heavy woods. Brown Widows frequently choose empty containers like buckets, planters, mailboxes, and entryway corners. So, checking these places thoroughly before disturbing them is a good idea!
One of the easiest ways to identify these spiders in Afghanistan is to look for their egg sacs. They have pointy protrusions and are frequently referred to as “fluffy” or “spiky” in appearance.
#4. Crab Spiders
- On average, females measure 7–11 mm. Males are much smaller and range between lengths of 2–4 mm.
- Colors range widely based on the specific species. However, the most common colors are pink, yellow, white, green, or brown.
The best places to find crab spiders in Afghanistan are near flowers.
Crab spiders don’t use webs to catch their prey. Instead, they sit and wait inside flowers or other vegetation that is low to the ground for something to eat. Once a suitable victim comes by, they use their long forelegs to ambush it and make the kill. When insects are in short supply, such as during bad weather, they eat pollen and nectar to avoid starvation.
Lastly, many crab spiders have developed a mutualistic relationship with certain plant species since these spiders feed on and help deter harmful insects. Some plants even release an emission after being attacked that helps attract crab spiders in hopes they eat the intruder.
#5. Pantropical Jumping Spider
- Plexippus paykulli
- Adult females range from 9 to 12 millimeters long, while adult males range from 9 to 11 millimeters long.
- Females are brownish gray and darker on their back and head, especially around the eyes, and have a broad tan stripe that extends onto the abdomen.
- Males are black with a broad white central stripe and two white spots near the rear of the abdomen.
Pantropical Jumping Spiders are often found near buildings or other areas inhabited by humans. They cleverly spend time around light sources that attract insect prey.
Unlike many other spiders in Afghanistan, Pantropical Jumping Spiders do not construct a web to catch their prey. Instead, they actively hunt, relying on their athletic abilities to find food. You may be able to find their silken retreats, though, which are often found in the corner of a ceiling or other elevated position. They use this retreat to rest and hide between hunting.
Although they look dangerous, Pantropical Jumping Spiders will only bite if handled roughly. Their bites are relatively harmless and, at worst, may resemble a bee sting.
#6. Wolf Spiders
Wolf spiders are found everywhere and in almost any habitat. I know that I see them often when flipping over rocks or logs. There are many individual species of wolf spider found in Afghanistan, and it would be impossible to list them here, especially since most of them look very similar.
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! Some wolf spiders will make a burrow and then wait inside for dinner to walk by. Most individuals wander without a permanent home, and they always live and hunt alone.
When it comes to arachnids, these spiders have incredible eyesight. They also have retroreflective tissue in their eyes, which produces a glow if you flash a light at their faces.
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.
#7. Cellar Spiders
- 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 cellar spiders in Afghanistan 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.
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 cellar spiders living together in groups have smaller abdomens, which means they are probably eating less than if they were by themselves. But the trade-off is that they don’t have the energy costs of making their own web.
It has been very hard for researchers to figure out the lifespan of cellar spiders because of their habit of migrating to new webs!
- Colors vary; most are dull brown or dull gray, but some may be yellowish, greenish-brown, or reddish.
- Single body region, only two eyes that do not see well.
The Harvestman might be the most recognizable spider in Afghanistan!
I know many people find them hiding underneath rocks or logs. They are also very social so you will many times find them in large groups.
But here’s the crazy thing: Even though Harvestmen look just 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, Harvestman can actually swallow solid food, which allows them to eat small insects, fungi, dead organisms, bird dung, and other fecal matter. This differs from spiders that only eat their prey after turning them into a liquid.
Their long legs play a vital part in their life. They use their legs for breathing, walking, smelling, and capturing prey. Males have longer legs than females, which they will groom by licking with their mouthparts. Seriously, you can watch this behavior below!
Learn about other animals found in Afghanistan:
Which of these spiders have you seen before in Afghanistan?
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