What kinds of spiders can you find in El Salvador?
Before we begin, I want you to know that the list below is just a fraction of the spider species found in El Salvador. 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, to help you identify what you’ve found.
23 common SPIDERS found in El Salvador!
#1. Green Lynx Spider
- Peucetia viridans
- Females are 22 mm (0.87 in) long. Males are 12 mm (0.47 in) long.
- As their name suggests, they are mostly green but can change to yellow depending on the season.
- Look for black dots and spikes covering their glass-like legs.
Green Lynx Spiders in El Salvador are adept at camouflaging among plants.
Instead of spinning webs, they use their silk to make egg sacs. These sacs can contain up to 600 vividly orange eggs. After about a month, spiderlings burst from the sacs out into the open. It’s quite a sight, to say the least!
You might see a mother Green Lynx hanging upside down from her egg sac, protective and alert. To defend themselves, females of this species have the astonishing ability to spray venom as far as 300 mm (12 in). That’s 25 times their own body length!
Despite being aggressive hunters, these spiders rarely bite humans. In addition, bites don’t cause serious damage, though they can be painful. Green Lynx Spiders hunt crop-damaging moths and other agricultural pests. However, they also prey on honeybees and some helpful insects.
#2. Sylvan Jumping Spider
- Colonus sylvanus
Also known as the Sylvana Spider.
- Females are 8-10 mm (0.31-0.39 in). Males are 7-9 mm (0.28-0.35 in).
- Males are black with contrasting reds and yellows, while females are pale cream.
- You might see prominent white stripes running down their abdomens.
You’ll find these jumping spiders hiding among shrubs in El Salvador’s woodlands. Sometimes, they wander inside homes and buildings, searching for food. But don’t be alarmed! They are completely harmless and will likely flee if approached.
These spiders mainly feast on other spiders and even cannibalize members of their own species. To avoid becoming lunch, males will cautiously approach females in a zigzag motion when attempting to mate. If two males cross paths, they might fight each other until one escapes or gets eaten. However, they are solitary creatures, so these fights rarely happen.
Sylvan Jumping Spiders are patient and deadly hunters. Barely moving at first, they suddenly pounce on their prey with pinpoint accuracy. Impressively, they can pounce even when hanging upside-down as if defying gravity!
#3. Spined Micrathena
- Micrathena gracilis
Also known as the Spiny-Bellied Orbweaver, Spiny Orb Weaver, and Castleback Orbweaver.
- Females grow to 8-10 mm (0.31-0.39 in) in size. Males average 4.5 mm (0.18 in) long.
- They are white or yellowish with dark mottles.
- You might notice prominent black spines on their big abdomens.
The Spined Micrathena is a native spider of El Salvador.
If you’re eager to find one, you’ll have the best luck searching in hardwood forests along ponds or lagoons. These day-dwelling creatures are most active during late summer and early fall.
The webs of this species are large, tightly coiled, and can reach 200 mm (8 in) across. As with most orb-weavers, they connect a long line of silk to a branch above their webs to use as an escape route. Spined Micrathenas are diligent spinsters. Every night, they re-spin the inner circle of their web, but they will keep the outer web intact for a few days.
Spined Micrathenas easily catch mosquitos, gnats, and small flying insects in their sticky webs. They are wanderers, spending only a week at one location before moving on to the next. If you encounter one, rest assured that its venom is too mild to harm humans.
#4. Tiger Bromeliad Spider
- Cupiennius salei
Also known as the American Wandering Spider and Large Wandering Spider.
- Females have a body length of 35 mm (1.38 in). They are dark brown with white spots on the abdomen and bands on the legs.
- Males are 25 mm (0.10 in) long, lighter brown, and their legs are thinner.
Tiger Bromeliad Spiders lurk in rainforests across El Salvador, taking shelter in plants with large, broad leaves.
Stay on your toes because these wandering spiders are deceptively fast! One of their favorite plants to hide in is Bromeliads, which is how they got their common name.
Instead of spinning webs, Tiger Bromeliad Spiders prefer blending into the leaf litter. They lie in wait to ambush unwary beetles and butterflies. After lunging and biting, they use their forelegs to hold down their prey and keep them from escaping. Impressively, these spiders can also take down small frogs and lizards.
A Tiger Bromeliad Spider’s venom can paralyze small prey, but thankfully, it doesn’t affect humans. However, the efficient curve of its fangs recently caught the attention of scientists. They are studying how the fang’s shape can be replicated to improve the needles used for medical injections.
#5. Tropical Orbweaver
- Eriophora ravilla
- Females are 12-24 mm (0.47-0.94 in) long. Males are 9-13 mm (0.35-0.51 in) long.
- Their coloring is brown or gray with dark banding on their legs.
- Some specimens have a prominent lime-colored patch or a white stripe on their abdomens.
Have you ever seen a dried, curly leaf that looks like it was tied with silk? A Tropical Orbweaver likely used that leaf for refuge! This spider makes its home in the forests of El Salvador. It weaves webs large enough to span from tree to tree and occasionally hides in low-lying shrubs.
As night falls, these spiders start to build their webs, finishing them just before sunrise. When a moth or small insect lands on its web, the Tropical Orbweaver can feel the vibrations. Then, it will rush toward the trapped prey to deliver a fatal bite.
Bites of this species have a mild effect on humans, so don’t be afraid. Instead, Tropical Orbweavers are quite the little helpers. They like to hang out in fruit orchards, keeping the populations of pest insects in check. If bitten, the worst symptoms you can expect are minor pain and swelling.
#6. Arrowhead Orbweaver
- Verrucosa arenata
Also known as the Arrowhead Spider, Triangle Orb Weaver, and Triangulate Orb Weaver.
- Females grow to 7-14 mm (0.28-0.55 in) long. They have a yellow or white triangle marking on their abdomens.
- Males only reach 4-6 mm (0.16-0.24 in).
- Their coloring ranges from dark brown to rusty red.
- True to their name, they have pointed abdomens that resemble arrowheads.
Arrowhead Orbweavers aren’t picky with their habitats. Parks, gardens, and forests are all likely spots to find this spider in El Salvador. They’re most active in the late summer and early fall.
Unlike most orb weavers, Arrowhead Orbweavers sit on their webs with their abdomens pointing downward. Their webs are thin enough to be invisible and tightly woven. This way, the tiny flies and mosquitos that this species dines on are caught up efficiently.
Interestingly, the Arrowhead Orbweaver’s abdomen plays a huge role in its survival. White reflects ultraviolet light and heat so the spider can adapt better in hotter climates. Additionally, the yellow and white markings on their abdomens are a mechanism to lure in prey.
#7. Golden Jumping Spider
- Paraphidippus aurantius
Also known as the Emerald Jumping Spider and Emerald Jumper.
- Females are 8-12 mm (0.31-0.47 in) long. Their coloring is green on the body with brownish-orange heads.
- Males are 7-10 mm (0.28-0.39 in) long. They are black with white patches.
- In both sexes, you might see white spots on their abdomens.
Golden Jumping Spiders in El Salvador hunt actively and pounce on their prey.
These spiders move with abrupt hops and can leap great distances with their springy legs. They are alert hunters with excellent vision.
You’ll find Golden Jumping Spiders in the countryside and suburbs, especially in wooded areas. They usually rest in crumpled leaves that they bundle with their silk. Sometimes, they wander into houses, but don’t worry! These non-venomous spiders will help rid your home of bugs.
Spiderlings hatch from round eggs, and they are the spitting image of their parents. Within a few days, these baby spiders will have to fend for themselves and live solitary lives. Golden Jumping Spiders feed on flies, crickets, ants, butterflies, and other small insects.
#8. Pretty Orbweaver
- Eriophora nephiloides
- Females are approximately 11-22 mm (0.43-0.87 in) long. The males are smaller, in fact, the smallest in the Eriophora genus.
- Their abdomens are bright yellow or yellow-green. The rest of their bodies are brownish orange.
- Females have black bands on their legs.
The Pretty Orbweaver is a beautiful but secretive spider living in El Salvador’s forests. Spiders in the orb-weaver genus like this one pose no danger to humans.
Although they aren’t strictly nocturnal, Pretty Orbweavers tend to hide when the sun is hottest, usually inside curled leaves. Then, when night falls, they return to spinning webs at least a meter (3.2 ft) above the forest floor. Then, they wait for unfortunate scarab beetles and moths to get trapped.
Orbweavers “mummify” their prey by wrapping them up before eating them. Once their meal is wrapped in silk, they inject it with venom that liquefies their meal; then, they eat the liquid. Interestingly, if the prey is large, the spider will throw silk to incapacitate it before getting close!
#9. Tropical Wandering Spiders
Also known as Wandering Spiders.
- Adults are typically shades of brown and black to blend in among dead leaves and rocks.
- Some species have distinctive patterns on their abdomens, including stripes and T-shapes. In addition, their legs might have stripes or mottles.
The Ctenus genus contains 157 unique species of spiders. As their common name implies, Tropical Wandering Spiders favor the warm, moist conditions of tropical forests and woodlands.
Watch where you’re walking! These spiders in El Salvador don’t spin webs. Instead, they prefer prowling through the forest floor in search of food. Unfortunately, little is known about the toxicity of their bites, so treat any spider you encounter with caution.
Tropical Wandering Spiders are abundant in their habitats but also vulnerable. Birds, bigger spiders, and even colonies of ants regularly prey on them. Regrettably, this means only a very few of these creatures ever reach adulthood.
#10. Western Spotted Orbweaver
- Neoscona oaxacensis
Also known as Zig-zag Spider, Western Garden Orbweaver.
- Females reach 9-18 mm (0.35-0.7 in) in body length. Males are usually 6-13 mm (0.24-0.5 in) long.
- They have black and white wavy markings over their bulbous abdomens, and their legs are hairy with dark bands.
These orb-weaving spiders in El Salvador inhabit a wide range of habitats.
Look for them anywhere with trees, including orchards, wooded fields, and backyards. Western Spotted Orbweavers are most active during the summer and fall and generally prefer to hunt at night.
If you stumble upon an empty web, don’t assume it’s abandoned. Western Spotted Orbweavers may be hiding at the edge, tucked away safely under a leaf. Here, they wait patiently for unlucky beetles, flies, lice, mites, and moths to get trapped.
Western Spotted Orbweavers lay their eggs inside curled leaves to safeguard them from predators. Once the spiderlings hatch, they live for six months to a year. Like all orb weavers, they are harmless to humans.
#11. Mexican Red-rump Tarantula
- Tliltocatl vagans
- Females have a body length of 50-75 mm (2-3 in). Their legs can span 135 mm (5.31 in) across.
- Males are noticeably smaller and thinner than females.
- They have black bodies, with reddish hairs covering their legs and abdomen.
The Mexican Red-rump Tarantula digs multi-chamber burrows in shrublands. After hunting at night, it will return to its burrow, blocking the entrance with soil to keep out unwanted visitors. Do not disturb!
Tarantulas, like many spiders in El Salvador, are solitary hunters.
They rely on brute strength to subdue large insects, rodents, and lizards. Although it seems unbelievable, tarantula spiderlings stay with their mother for many weeks until they’re big enough to hunt independently. I would never have guessed that any spider cares for its young like this!
Because they are non-venomous and stunning to look at, Red-rump Tarantulas are popular as exotic pets. Females can live up to 25 years. Note, however, that they can be quite defensive. If threatened, these spiders will fling the hairs on their abdomens onto attackers, irritating the skin or blinding the eye temporarily.
#12. Arrow-shaped Orbweaver
- Micrathena sagittata
Also known as the Spiny Orbweaver and Arrowshaped Micrathena.
- Females reach only 9 mm (0.35 in) long. Males are even smaller at 5 mm (0.2 in).
- Females have distinctive abdomens which protrude backward into two points, forming an arrow shape.
- Their coloring is a mix of yellow, black, and red.
You’ll find these spiders in wooded areas of El Salvador.
It’s hard to miss the cartoonish body shapes of female Arrow-shaped Orbweavers. Their vibrant yellow color helps them lure in more prey.
As with other Orbweavers, their venom is harmless to humans but deadly to their prey. They spin tightly-spaced webs that are effective at catching small flying insects. If you find one in your garden, leave them be, and they’ll help you get rid of aphids, gnats, and other pests.
Arrow-shaped Orbweavers are equipped with spiky rears, so they are hard to eat, discouraging birds and other predators. They also have venom that helps digest their prey and slurp it up easily.
#13. Costa Rican Blue Front Tarantula
- Aphonopelma crinirufum
Also known as the Nicaraguan Blue Front Tarantula.
- Adults are 120-130 mm (4.8-5. in) long with a leg span of 160 mm (6 in).
- They are broad, fuzzy, and dark in color. Usually, the body is brown.
- You might notice a blue tinge on their limbs, most prominent at the front chelicerae (mouth area).
When it comes to spiders in El Salvador, looks can be deceiving.
The Costa Rican Blue Front Tarantula may be scary at first glance, but it’s non-venomous and harmless to humans. These tarantulas make their home in tropical forests.
Costa Rican Blue Front Tarantulas have “urticating hairs” as their first line of defense. Touching these will irritate your skin and may cause rashes. In addition, if predators such as iguanas attempt to approach, these tarantulas will fling the hairs at the predator’s eyes and cause temporary blindness.
Exotic pet keepers have noted this species to be mild-mannered. Costa Rican Blue Front Tarantulas are quite shy and spend most of their time hiding inside their burrows. In the wild, they stalk and feed on beetles, cockroaches, grasshoppers, and mantises.
#14. Costa Rican Striped Knee Tarantula
- Aphonopelma seemanni
Also known as the Costa Rican Zebra Tarantula, Zebra Knee, and Stripe Kneed Tarantula.
- Including the legs, adults grow to 100-130 mm (4-5 in) long.
- They have black bodies with white stripes on their legs, earning the common name Zebra Tarantula. Some individuals are brown.
Striped Knee Tarantulas are found in the scrublands of El Salvador. If you cross paths with one, be on the lookout for more! This tarantula usually lives near others of its kind. They dig well-insulated burrows to take shelter in during cold nights.
Females are long-lived, surviving up to 20 years. Males, in contrast, only live for about five years. In the wild, these spiders normally feed on various beetles and grasshoppers.
Costa Rican Striped Knee Tarantulas are shy creatures that will quickly escape if they sense danger. When cornered, they raise their forelegs and bare their fangs to intimidate the attacker. They can also throw urticating (skin-irritating) hairs from their bodies. You might develop a rash if you get hit. Be careful!
#15. Guatemalan Tiger Rumped Tarantula
- Davus pentaloris
- Females are about 50 mm (2 in) long. Males are noticeably smaller.
- Their color pattern is orange with dark stripes on their abdomens, resembling tigers. Their legs are black and hairy.
Guatemalan Tiger Rumped Tarantulas thrive in the humidity of rainforests in El Salvador. The dense foliage in these jungles offers protection against predators. They’re one of the smaller species of tarantulas, but juveniles rapidly grow to adulthood.
As with other tarantulas, the Tiger Rumped Tarantula is a solitary animal that roams the forest floor to stalk its prey. If it encounters another of its species, they may try to eat each other! Usually, though, they are content to feed on insects and small vertebrates.
These spiders are perfect pets for beginner collectors. They have a mild disposition and are easy to care for. Though their bites are rare and harmless, you may want to approach them carefully when feeding. If they mistake you for a threat, these tarantulas might launch their skin-irritant body hairs at you. Itchy!
#16. Golden Silk Spider
- Trichonephila clavipes
- They have reddish-brown and yellow coloring and a yellow oblong abdomen.
- Their legs are long, straight, and yellow, with black bands covered with hair.
- The head is small and grayish-white with black dots that look like a skull.
Golden Silk Spiders in El Salvador produce a truly amazing web.
First, the asymmetrical webs of golden-colored silk can be up to 2 m (6.5 ft) in diameter! These clever spiders often construct their webs above garbage, helping to attract insects. Unfortunately, Golden Silk Spiders must repair damage to their webs constantly because birds and large insects are always flying through them.
The silk of this species is also being tested in medical applications. For example, some studies have shown that a piece of silk can connect severed neurons, allowing them to heal properly after injuries. In addition, the silk doesn’t elicit an immune reaction from the body, which means it could be used to help people with paralysis or brain injuries. It sounds like science fiction, but it could be groundbreaking in the future!
#17. Gray Wall Jumping Spider
- Menemerus bivittatus
- This species has a flattened torso and short, thick, grayish-white hair. Tufts of dark brown hair grow close to the eyes.
- The male has a brownish-white stripe on each side of the abdomen and a black dorsal stripe.
- The female has a larger abdomen and is typically lighter brown. In addition, her abdomen is rimmed with broad black stripes that come together at the end.
The Gray Wall Jumping Spider is native to Africa but has spread worldwide. It frequently appears on the exterior of buildings or tree trunks in gardens.
Instead of weaving a web around its prey, the Gray Wall Jumping spider stalks the prey before springing on it to attack. Their wide eyes and visual acuity allow them to focus easily on objects and distinguish between different colors. And, using their exceptional jumping ability, they can seize their prey in the blink of an eye.
Interestingly, male Gray Wall Jumping Spiders can produce sounds as part of courtship behavior. The hairs on their femurs and the teeth on the chelicerae (small claws on the front of the mouth) make clicking noises that attract females. These sounds are too low and quiet for humans to hear, but it isn’t hard to imagine the creepy noise!
#18. Silver Garden Orbweaver
- Argiope argentata
- Females average 12 mm (0.47 in) long, and males average 4 mm (0.15 in) long.
- They have a silver or white head and abdomen, and the back half of their abdomen is bumpy and dark colored with “windows” of white.
- Their underside is dark brown, their long legs have bands of orange, silver, white, black, or dark brown, and they have two sets of eyes.
Silver Garden Orb Weavers produce seven distinct types of silk. The silks have different compositions, each used for a different purpose when constructing the web.
These webs are incredibly important for the survival of the Silver Garden Orb Weaver because they help with nearly every aspect of their life. For example, they trap food in their web and detect it by feeling the vibration. In addition, the surface of the web collects droplets, which is their only water source.
These spiders will occasionally bite people in self-defense. However, Silver Garden Orb Weaver venom is not toxic to humans. Bites are typically less severe than a bee sting, with minor redness and swelling.
#19. Spinybacked Orbweaver Spider
- Gasteracantha cancriformis
- Females are bright-colored and have a hard shell-like abdomen. They grow to 5-10 mm (0.2-0.4 in).
- Six spines stand out from their body.
- Males are much smaller and are not brightly colored. In addition, the spines are not as prominent.
- Also is known as Spiny-backed Orb-weaver, Spiny Orb-weaver, Thorn Spider, or Spiny Spider.
Many people don’t even realize these arachnids are spiders! Their hard body with spikes sticking out makes them unique for spiders living in El Salvador. Luckily, they aren’t dangerous to humans and will only bite out of self-defense.
Like most spiders, they make their webs at night. But here’s the interesting part, they have to make a new web EVERY day since they eat their web each morning.
Spinybacked Orbweaver Spider webs are constructed a little differently than other spiders. They actually add little silk balls to the web so larger insects and birds don’t run into or destroy it. These act as a warning to larger insects and birds to save the spider the work of repairing holes made by larger animals.
#20. Mabel Orchard Orbweaver
- Leucauge argyrobapta
- Adult females range from 5.5-7.5 mm (0.21-0.30 in) long, while adult males range from 3.5-4.0 mm (0.13-0.16 in) long.
- Their coloring is silvery white on the abdomen, with a tan head, back, and greenish-black legs.
- Along with the overall silver color, these spiders often have bright green, yellow, and orange patches on their abdomens.
These relatively common spiders are also simply called orchard spiders. As their name implies, they’re commonly found in orchards, but they also live in shrubby meadows, wooded suburban areas, hedges, and houses.
Unlike many spiders in El Salvador, Mabel Orchard Orbweavers are social.
They even connect their webs if prey is plentiful in a small area. Webs are also frequently found near the webs of the Golden Silk Orb Weaver. Mabel Orchard Orbweavers likely use the yellow silk of the other species to save time and effort!
These spiders are mild, timid spiders and rarely bite. Bites are a last resort for defense and aren’t harmful to humans. A bite from a Mabel Orchard Orbweaver is usually milder than a bee sting.
#21. 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 Spider employs a neurotoxic venom, causing pain, muscle rigidity, vomiting, and sweating. However, the bites of the Brown Widow are often much less harmful than those of the famous 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 a Brown Widow is to look for its egg sacs. They have pointy protrusions and are frequently referred to as “fluffy” or “spiky” in appearance.
#22. Pantropical Huntsman Spider
- Heteropoda venatoria
- Adults are 2.2-2.8 cm (0.86-1.1 in) long with a leg span of 7-12 cm (3-5 in).
- Females have larger bodies, and males have longer legs.
- Both sexes are brown with yellow or cream markings and distinct black spots on their legs.
The Pantropical Huntsman Spider is native to Asia but is a bit of a world traveler! They’re often called banana spiders because they hitch a ride in tropical fruit imports, making their way to other parts of the world. These fearsome-looking spiders thrive in areas with warm climates but are occasionally found in greenhouses and heated buildings in temperate climates.
Because of their need for warmth, Pantropical Huntsman Spiders slip into small cracks and crevices around homes, barns, and sheds. Luckily, they’re most active at night, so your chances of disturbing one are fairly low. Additionally, their venom is not dangerous to humans. However, they can deliver a painful bite that might swell and turn red.
As you may have guessed from their name, this species is an accomplished predator. Instead of trapping prey in webs, they rely on their speed and strength, grabbing prey with their jaws and injecting venom into it. In fact, people in many tropical countries like them because they feed on cockroaches and other pests.
Check out these other guides about animals found in El Salvador!
Which of these spiders have you seen before in El Salvador?
Leave a comment below!