What kinds of spiders can you find in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
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 the DRC (formerly known as Zaire). 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.
5 common SPIDERS in the Democratic Republic of the Congo!
#1. 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 the DRC, 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Females are up to 14 times bigger than males and up to 70 times heavier.
#2. 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 the DRC 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!
#3. Tropical Tent-web Spider
- Cyrtophora citricola
- Females are 10 to 15 mm (0.3-0.5 in) long.
- Males are about 3mm (0.12 in).
- Color variations in females are typical – some are brown, while others have black and white markings on their abdomen. Males are usually solid black.
The Tropical Tent-web Spider makes an unusual web that resembles mesh curtains. Prey is deflected onto the orb-web by a network of threads that support the orb-web and form a tent. This species spends most of its time on its complex web. Each spider has its own space, but they often form large groups with interconnected webs.
These spiders can be hard to find in the Democratic Republic of the Congo because they are nocturnal, which keeps them hidden from predators throughout the day. However, they spend most of the night capturing prey, including moths and flies.
Tropical Tent-web spiders catch prey in three distinct phases. In the initial stage, the spider bites or wraps its prey in silk to incapacitate it. Then, they remove it from the web itself and carry the prey to the hub of the web. Finally, once they reach the safety of the center of the web, they consume their meal.
#4. 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 the DRC. 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.
#5. 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 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.
Check out these other guides about animals found in the DRC!
- 32 Amazing ANIMALS to see in the Democratic Republic of the Congo! (ID guide w/ pics)
Which of these spiders have you seen before in the Democratic Republic of the Congo?
Leave a comment below!