What kinds of spiders can you find in Gabon?
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 Gabon. 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.
6 common SPIDERS in Gabon!
#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 Gabon 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. Common Garden Orb Web Spider
- Argiope australis
Also called Black and Yellow Garden Spider or Garden Orb Spider.
- The abdomen is bright yellow and black with knobby outlines, and the legs have bands of dark and light coloring.
- Females are around 25 mm (0.9 in), and males are around 5 mm (0.2 in).
The Common Garden Orb Web Spider is prevalent across sub-Saharan Gabon.
It creates massive webs resembling wheels, which they use for several days before moving and creating a new one. The webs are typically constructed one meter off the ground and spread across plants.
Common Garden Orb Web Spiders have an efficient (but sort of gross) way of eating their meals. To overpower large prey, like grasshoppers, bees, flies, butterflies, and dragonflies, they wrap their victim in silk to incapacitate it. Then, they paralyze their victims by injecting them with poison. Before eating, the spider injects enzymes that liquefy the prey’s insides. The spider then consumes the liquid left over, sort of like a bug smoothie!
#3. African Hermit Spider
- Nephilingis cruentata
- Females grow up to 25 mm (1 in). Their bodies are elongated and pointed, bright yellow near the head and dark brown near the back.
- Males grow only up to 4 mm (0.15 in).
- The legs of both sexes are a combination of brown, red, and black.
African Hermit Spiders get their common name from building funnel-shaped retreats on the side of their webs. They hide out in the funnels during the daytime, emerging at night to hunt.
Their asymmetrical webs are usually found on trees and bushes in tropical and subtropical climates. African Hermit Spiders live close to people and can be spotted in manufactured structures on walls and roofs. But don’t worry, this fearsome-looking spider isn’t dangerous to humans!
If you find an African Hermit Spider in Gabon, it’s most likely a female. That’s because the males are so small they’re hardly ever spotted. In fact, they have the greatest sexual dimorphism of any spider in Gabon. Females are up to 14 times bigger than males and up to 70 times heavier.
#4. Gray Wall Jumping Spider
- Menemerus bivittatus
- This species has a flattened torso and short, thick, greyish-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.
- Both sexes are about 9 mm (0.3 in) long, but males are usually slightly smaller.
The Gray Wall Jumping Spider is native to Gabon but has since spread throughout the world. It frequently appears on the exterior of buildings or tree trunks in gardens.
Instead of weaving a web around their prey, the Gray Wall Jumping spider stalks the prey before springing on it to attack. Their wide eyes and visual acuity allow them to easily focus 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!
#5. 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 Gabon, 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.
#6. 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 Gabon, 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!
Check out these other guides about animals found in Gabon!
- 18 Amazing ANIMALS to see in Gabon! (ID guide w/ pics)
Which of these spiders have you seen before in Gabon?
Leave a comment below!