What kinds of spiders can you find in Ethiopia?
Many people are terrified of spiders and find them extremely creepy. This is unfortunate because not only are most spiders completely harmless, they benefit 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 spiders in Ethiopia. Because of the sheer number of these arachnids, it would be impossible to cover them all. For example, some estimates claim over 50,000 kinds of spiders on the planet (and the list is still growing)!
In today’s article, I did my best to develop a list of spiders you’re most likely to see.
11 common SPIDERS in Ethiopia!
#1. Hairy Golden Orb-weaving Spider
- Trichonephila fenestrata
Also known as the Tufted Golden Orb-weaving spider.
- Their coloring is predominantly yellow with black patterns.
- The legs are dark brown or black with hairy middle parts (brushes).
- Females are 20-40 mm (0.8-1.5 in). Males are 5-6 mm (0.19-0.23 in).
Look for this spider in Ethiopia in wooded areas where they can make their web and catch prey easily.
Hairy Golden Orb-weaving Spiders makes elaborate flat webs of concentric circles and spokes from the center. Their webs can reach up to 1 meter (3 feet) in diameter. The silk has a yellowish color, which serves two functions: in the sun, bees are attracted to the color, and in the shade, it blends in with the surrounding vegetation.
Male Hairy Golden Orb-weaving Spiders have an unusual tactic to survive mating, which is typically dangerous for spiders. During mating, the male sacrifices one of its front legs as a snack for the female. This behavior increases the chances of successful mating while decreasing the chances of the male being eaten by the female. And you think dating is hard for humans!
#2. Adanson’s House Jumper
- Hasarius adansoni
- Males have more colorful bodies, with black abdomen color and two white crescents on their bodies. They grow up to 6mm (0.23 in).
- Females are dark brown and don’t have any noticeable pattern, and are about 8mm (0.31 in) long.
- Both sexes have long legs covered with spines and hairs.
The Adanson’s House Jumper lives in warm climates all over Ethiopia. Its natural habitats include woodland and low vegetation, but since they are highly adaptable, they can be found in any terrestrial area.
Although they can reuse their nests, they usually build new ones each night. Their webs are relatively small, about twice the size of the spider. The Adanson’s House Jumper is quite sociable and can be seen grouped in bigger numbers.
One of the most interesting traits of this species is its ability to jump incredible distances. They hunt by leaping several centimeters onto their prey, grabbing them, and injecting venom by bite.
#3. Shorthorn Kitespider
- Gasteracantha sanguinolenta
Also known as the Thorn spider, the Jewel spider, the Star spider, or the Kite spider.
- Females are 8-10 mm (0.31-0.39 in) long. They’re bright cream, white or yellow, red, and black. Their abdomen is usually black at the sides and white at the center, with red spots.
- Males are several times smaller and lack bright coloring.
- Their abdomen is sclerotized (hardened) with four sides and two back spines.
Unlike other spiders in Ethiopia, this species is most commonly seen during winter.
They reproduce in the spring, and the females die after producing the egg sac, leaving the young to grow and disperse on their own.
The Shorthorn Kitespider is mostly found in evergreen forests, woodlands, or shrubby gardens. They use trees to build their webs at least one meter above the ground.
#4. Southern Baboon Spiders
- Subfamily Harpactirinae
Note: Baboon spiders are a subfamily of tarantulas broadly present on the African continent. Around nine genera and over one hundred species are present in Ethiopia. This section gives general information on the entire group.
- This species reaches a maximum length of 15 cm (5.9 in), including the legs.
- Their coloring varies from light brown to dark brown or black. Some species can also have grey, beige, orange, or light yellow colors.
- Hair covers the legs and body.
Southern Baboon Spiders are members of the Tarantula family. These ground-dwelling spiders use their fangs and chelicerae (pincer-like mouth appendages) to dig burrows that they line with silk. Their natural habitats are savanna forests, arid scrublands, and grasslands.
They are vicious hunters, preying on insects, small rodents, reptiles, and just about anything else they can take down. Baboon Spiders lift their front legs to appear bigger and more intimidating when disturbed or threatened. If the threat continues, they will bite and release venom.
The fangs of a Baboon Spider can be more than a centimeter long! As you can imagine, a bite from one can be very painful, and their venom can cause localized swelling. However, it doesn’t pose a major health concern to humans.
#5. Bark Spiders
- Genus Caerostris
Note: Bark Spiders are a genus of 18 species that range over the African continent.
- Females are black or brown, with long white hairs on the upper body. Some individuals are spotted with red, yellow, or orange.
- Males have a lighter color, usually without any spots. In addition, they are considerably smaller, one-third of the length of an average female.
Bark Spiders are a genus of orb-weaving spiders in Ethiopia, most commonly found in tropical climates.
They get their name from their incredible effective camouflage, which helps them blend into tree bark as they climb and move throughout the forest.
The silk that Bark Spiders produce is the toughest biological material humans have ever studied, twice as strong as any other spider silk known to science. And not only do Bark Spiders have the strongest silk, but they also build the largest webs. This impressive species holds the record with a surface area of up to 2.8 square meters (30 sq ft).
Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Bark Spiders is the unique location of their webs. They construct them directly above a river or stream, so insects flying above the water are snared in its web. This genus has both brawn and brains!
#6. Pantropical Jumping Spider
- Plexippus paykulli
- Adult females range from 9 to 12 mm (0.35-0.47 in) long, while adult males range from 9 to 11 mm (0.35-0.43 in) 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 live near buildings, in citrus groves, and in cotton fields. They cleverly spend time around light sources that attract insect prey.
Unlike many spiders in Ethiopia, Pantropical Jumping Spiders do not construct a web. Instead, they construct silken retreats, often in the corner of a ceiling or other elevated position. They use this retreat to rest and hide between hunting.
Although they look incredibly dangerous, Pantropical Jumping Spiders will only bite if handled roughly. Their bites are relatively harmless and may resemble a bee sting or be even milder.
#7. 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 Ethiopia, 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.
#8. 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 Ethiopia 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.
#9. 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 Ethiopia, 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.
#10. 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 Ethiopia 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 Ethiopia!
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!
Check out these other guides about animals found in Ethiopia!
- 44 Amazing ANIMALS to see in Ethiopia! (ID guide w/ pics)
Which of these spiders have you seen before in Ethiopia?
Leave a comment below!