What kinds of spiders can you find in Malaysia?
Many people are terrified of spiders and find them extremely creepy. This is unfortunate because not only are most spiders completely harmless, but 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 Malaysia. 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.
Here are 18 common SPIDERS that live in Malaysia!
#1. Two-striped Telamonia
- Telamonia dimidiata
- Females grow to 9–11 mm (0.35–0.43 in), and males can reach a length of 8–9 mm (0.31–0.35 in).
- Females are light yellow to cream with two red stripes on the abdomen.
- Males are dark brown to black, with a single white stripe in the middle of the abdomen.
You might recognize this spider, which is native to Malaysia, from an internet hoax.
Starting in 1999, photos of the Two-striped Telamonia began spreading through email, along with a false story that these spiders hid under toilet seats! The story claimed they were fatally venomous and had many on the edge of their seat. 🙂
Luckily, these stories are all fabricated, and the Two-striped Telemonia isn’t dangerous to humans at all. This species prefers heavily forested tropical areas, so it’s rarely found near people. Plus, even though this species does have venom to immobilize its prey, it’s not potent enough to hurt humans.
#2. Giant Golden Orbweaver
- Nephila pilipes
- Females are 30–50 mm (1.1-1.9 in), but their overall size, including their legs, is up to 20 cm (7.9 in).
- Males are much smaller, up to 5–6 mm (0.19-0.23 in).
- Their coloring is a stripy yellow and black with black legs with lighter-colored joints.
Giant Golden Orbweavers prefer habitats with no direct sunlight. This makes them perfectly adapted to live in dense rainforests and jungles. They build webs in bushes and trees near water sources.
Like many spiders, the females of this species are MUCH larger than the males. However, the Giant Golden Orbweaver takes it to a whole new level. Just look at the pair below and how the female dwarfs her partner!
The most surprising thing about this spider in Malaysia is that it’s a picky eater!
Incredibly, it only eats a few species of insects and will throw many others out of its web instead of eating them. To ensure they have enough of their preferred food source, they cache desirable food and store it in their webs for later.
Despite their intimidating appearance, Giant Golden Orbweavers aren’t dangerous to humans. Bites are rare, and symptoms are usually mild, involving muscle soreness or tightness. Symptoms go away on their own and don’t usually require medical treatment.
#3. Heavy-bodied Jumping Spider
- Hyllus semicupreus
- Females are 8-9 mm (0.31-0.35 in) and males are (7-9 mm 0.27-0.35 in).
- Their coloring is yellowish-brown, and they are covered in spiny hairs.
- This species’ abdomens are large in comparison with their legs.
Heavy-bodied Jumping Spiders may be small, but their looks are no less impressive! These tiny spiders are camouflaged to hide on the tree bark where they spend their lives. Additionally, they’re covered in spiky hairs that help them stay agile in humid, wet weather.
They build webs on the underside of leaves, particularly those of coconut trees. Instead of large webs like a traditional spider, they build round sacs out of thick silk. Males spend their inactive hours inside the sac, and females sometimes do too.
Even though they’re small, these spiders have a large appetite and sometimes consume prey that’s more than twice their size. Grasshoppers, flies, and bees are some of its favorite foods!
#4. Banded Phintella
- Phintella vittata
- Adults are 6-7 mm (0.23-0.27 in) long.
- They have striped bodies and black legs, which are short compared to their abdomens.
Look for the Banded Phintella in leaf litter and buildings in tropical climates. Like other jumping spiders in Malaysia, this species doesn’t build a web, instead hunting for its prey on the forest floor. However, they still need shelter from larger predators.
During the nighttime, they hide in enclosed structures woven from fibers or underneath debris on the forest floor. Then, once the sun rises, the Banded Phintella uses its excellent vision to find prey and evade predators. Of course, having the ability to leap several times its body length doesn’t hurt either!
These fascinating spiders aren’t only remarkable because of their hunting skills. Banded Phintellas also have striking opalescent bands on their abdomens, making them look like small jewels! The bands reflect sunlight, which gives them their shimmering quality. Males of the species use their reflective abilities to attract a mate, sort of like a flashy suit. 🙂
#5. Common Housefly Catcher
- Plexippus petersi
- Males are 6-10 mm (0.24-0.39 in) long, and females are around 10 mm (0.4 in) long.
- Their coloring is brown overall, with four black oval spots on the back.
- The legs and bodies of this species are covered in hair.
Don’t break out the insecticide if you see this spider in Malaysia!
The Common Housefly Catcher is frequently found in homes and commercial cropland, but this spider is there for one thing only – to eat pests.
This species is incredibly skilled at hunting mosquitos and other pest insects, making it one of the most helpful spiders around. It often inhabits areas with large pest populations. Fields infested with fly larvae and homes with bug problems are common habitats.
Common Housefly Catchers have even proven their usefulness in pest control studies! In investigations into whether this species could be used to control houseflies, they reduced the population significantly. So even if spiders aren’t your favorite animal, just remember that this one is doing you a favor by sticking around. 🙂
#6. Red Weaver Ant-mimicking Spider
- Myrmaplata plataleoides
- Females are 6–7 mm (0.23-0.27 in), and males are about 9–12 mm (0.35-0.47 in).
- Their coloring is pale blonde to dark brown, and they have unusually long bodies.
- They have long, spindly legs.
Even up close, it’s almost impossible to tell that this species is a spider at all!
The Red Weaver Ant-mimicking Spider is so good at disguising itself that it’s hard to tell it apart from the weaver ant it impersonates. Take a look at the Red Weaver Ants below, and you’ll see what I mean!
Their mimicry serves to protect the Red Weaver Ant-mimicking Spider from predators in a few ways. First, Red Weaver Ants are often aggressive, attacking predators in groups. Also, Red Weaver Ants taste terrible and have a painful bite. So for a timid, harmless spider like our impostor, taking on the appearance of a much more aggressive species helps keep it safe.
In addition to its looks, this spider will steal from the brood of the Red Weaver Ant to disguise its own smell, warding off predators even more. However, if the Red Weaver Ant-mimicking Spider is confronted by the ants it mimics, it will run away.
#7. Black and White Spiny Spider
- Gasteracantha kuhli
- Females‘ abdomens are 6-9 mm (0.23-0.35 in) wide. Their abdomens are hardened and armored with six spines.
- Males‘ abdomens are 3-4 mm (0.11-0.15 in) wide. They are also hard-bodied, but they have rounded bumps instead of spines.
- Both sexes are black and white with short legs.
The Black and White Spiny Spider is different from most spiders in Malaysia!
This small orb-weaving spider has a hardened body that protects it from predators. The most interesting feature is its sharp spines that cover the back of the abdomen. Despite its small size, this spider won’t take any attacks lying down.
Additionally, its coloring is similar to a Rorschach inkblot test. The designs on its back can take the shape of anything from a skull to a cuddly panda! I can see a cat’s face and a little dog in the examples above. 🙂
Black and White Spiny Spiders spend most of their time in webs constructed in shrubs. They wait for prey to become tangled up, then wrap it in silk before eating.
#8. Abandoned-web Orb-Weaver
- Adults are large and dark brown, with a triangular abdomen that has spikes at the corners.
- Its legs are thick and often retracted, making it look dead.
The Abandoned-web Orb-weaver got its name from the straggly web it creates. The webs often have missing sections and loose strings of silk, leading predators and observers to think they’re abandoned! Instead, the spider is often lying in wait to grab its prey.
This nocturnal spider in Malaysia eats moths predominantly, although it’s large enough to capture and consume small bats! Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to see the Abandoned-web Orb-weaver since it spends its days sheltering under leaves in the underbrush. So if you come across one of these spiders, count yourself extremely lucky.
If you try to find one, the best place to look is in overgrown gardens or bushland. Abandoned-web Orb-weavers make their webs between branches and leaves in these areas.
#9. Multi-colored Phintella
- Phintelloides versicolor
- Adults are around 6-7 mm (0.23-0.27 in) long.
- They vary in color from pale cream to nearly black and often have markings in shades of brown, yellow, or red.
- Their legs are short in comparison to their abdomens.
Multi-colored Phintella Spiders can be difficult to identify because of their wide range of colors. Just look at the photos above; based on their coloring, it might be hard to believe those two spiders are the same species! However, despite their differing shades, their body shape and uniquely large middle eyes make them hard to mistake for any other spider.
These small jumping spiders prefer to live in forests and buildings in tropical climates. They don’t usually build webs but instead hunt for prey on the forest floor.
Multi-colored Phintellas use their varied coloring as camouflage. For example, if one of these spiders lives in the forest, it might be shades of dark brown to blend in with tree bark. However, a city-dwelling spider is better served by pale coloring to hide on light-colored floors or walls.
#10. Long-horned Orbweaver
- Macracantha arcuata
- Females are 8-9 mm (0.1-0.35 in) wide at the abdomen, but their center spines can be up to 26 mm (1 in) long.
- Their coloring can be red, yellow, white, or black, with black horns and legs that sometimes have an iridescent bluish cast.
- Males are only about 1.5 mm (0.05 in) long.
One look at the Long-horned Orbweaver will give you all the information you need about how it got that name! This incredible spider has a hardened, shell-like body with two long spines that curl out from its back. It’s definitely one of the most intimidating spiders found in Malaysia!
Long-horned Orbweavers live in heavily forested areas, including tropical rainforests. Here, the dense tree cover is perfect for stringing their webs. Their webs can be up to 1.2 m (four ft) across, which makes them very effective for catching large insects.
Despite its appearance, the Long-horned Orbweaver isn’t dangerous to humans, and a bite has never been reported. They prefer to spend their time away from humans, underneath leaves where they wait for a meal. 🙂
#11. Hasselt’s Spiny Spider
- Macracantha hasselti
- Females are about 8 mm (0.31 in) long. They have hardened abdomens with sharp spikes, two of which are very long and sharp.
- Their coloring is bright orange, with 12 black dots that form two rows on the back.
- Males are much smaller and nondescript.
Hasselt’s Spiny Spiders live in tropical forests in Malaysia.
Their bright coloring and spiny appendages make them look dangerous, but this is all for show. In reality, these orb-weaving spiders are harmless to humans.
In fact, their showy appearance is a defense mechanism against larger predators! And I imagine it’s pretty effective; I definitely wouldn’t eat one if I came across it! Like other spiny orb-weavers, this species has a hard, shell-like abdomen that’s tough for even large predators to bite through. Plus, even if they get through the shell, they still have to contend with long, pointy spikes.
In addition to their tough exoskeleton, their colorful appearance helps deter predators by making them seem poisonous. In reality, they don’t have potent toxins at all.
#12. Pear-shaped Opadometa
- Opadometa fastigata
- Their coloring is dark on the body and legs, with silvery-white or gold markings on the back.
- This species has long, spindly legs and an enlarged oval abdomen.
- The legs have a patch of brushy spines at the joint.
Like other orb weavers, Pear-shaped Opadometas produce seven distinct types of silk. However, the silks have different compositions, each used for a different purpose as part of the web.
These webs are incredibly important for the survival of the Pear-shaped Opadometa 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 of water for them to drink.
These spiders will occasionally bite humans in self-defense. However, Pear-shaped Opadometa venom is not toxic to humans. Bites are typically less severe than a bee sting, with minor redness and swelling.
#13. Decorative Vleispider
- Leucauge decorata
- Females are 12 mm (0.47 in) long. Males are up to 6 mm (0.23 in).
- This species is often brightly colored, with green and brown legs and an abdomen with a showy mix of white, black, yellow, and green.
Decorative Vleispiders are one of the showiest spiders in Malaysia!
Their colorful markings and uniquely-shaped abdomen allow them to stick out, even among all the other spiders in the region. Just look at the shiny silver stripes that accentuate its green and yellow body to know what I mean.
This species’ distinctive pointed back end gives it a teardrop shape, making it easy to identify. It has a small head and long legs. The Decorative Vleispider spends much of its time on the underside of leaves when it isn’t in its web.
#14. Pointillist Neoscona
- Neoscona punctigera
- Females measure about 1.1 cm (0.43 in) and males are about 0.7 cm (0.28 in) long.
- Males are black and white with striped abdomens and spiky hairs all over the body and legs.
- Females are a dull brown, covered in hairs, and generally larger but not as striking as males.
Pointillist Neoscona Spiders are widespread in Malaysia and well-known for an unusual reason.
These spiders are often used for spider-fighting, where spiders are pitted against one another and made to fight. Although the practice can be brutal and is often discouraged, it is fairly widespread.
In fact, school children often set up spider fights to place bets and earn pocket money from other kids during the school day. The fights have become so distracting in some schools that school administrators have had to step in!
Pointillist Neosconas are used because the females are aggressive and territorial. They won’t tolerate another female in their presence, instead fighting for dominance. Unfortunately, the winning spider often kills the loser after the battle is over.
In the wild, Pointillist Neoscona Spiders spend their time in their webs, waiting for food to become trapped. As a result, they don’t often enter homes and aren’t aggressive toward people unless they’re handled roughly.
#15. 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 6 mm (0.23 in).
- Females are dark brown and don’t have any noticeable pattern, and are about 8 mm (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 Malaysia. 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.
#16. Pantropical Jumping Spider
- Plexippus paykulli
- Adult females range from 9-12 mm (0.35-0.47 in) long, while adult males range from 9-11 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 Malaysia, 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.
#17. Pantropical Huntsman Spider
- Heteropoda venatoria
- Adults are between 2.2 and 2.8 cm (0.86-1.10 in) long with a leg span of 7-12 cm (2.8-4.72 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 Malaysia 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.
#18. 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 Malaysia but has since spread worldwide. 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 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!
Check out these other guides about animals found in Malaysia!
Which of these spiders have you seen before in Malaysia?
Leave a comment below!