What kinds of spiders can you find in Turkmenistan?
Before we begin, I want you to know that the list below is just a fraction of the spider species in Turkmenistan. 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 and easily identified.
8 COMMON SPIDERS found in Turkmenistan!
#1. 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 Turkmenistan, 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.
#2. 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 Turkmenistan 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.
#3. Lobed Argiope
- Argiope lobata
- The female’s abdomen has black and white stripes and appears jagged or, as many say, “lobed.”
- Males have the same coloration but don’t have the lobes on the abdomen.
- Females are large and grow up to 25 mm long. Males are much smaller and only measure around 6 mm.
It’s hard to miss a female Lobed Argiope if you come across one. In addition to being incredibly large, they have a unique body shape and coloration that make them stand out. Look for them in bushes in warm rocky areas that are dry and sunny.
Make sure to look at the center of their web, as you should see a zigzag stabilimenta, which is a silk-shaped web decoration. Scientists aren’t exactly sure what the purpose is of having a stabilimenta, but the dominant theory is that it helps attract insects to the web by reflecting UV light. Interestingly, it is said that after E. B. White observed a stabilimenta in a spider’s web, he was inspired to write the book Charlotte’s Web.
Despite its intense appearance, the venom from a Lobed Argiope bite is NOT dangerous to humans.
#4. 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 Turkmenistan, 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.
#5. Cross Orbweaver
- Araneus diadematus
Also known as the European Garden Spider, Cross Spider, Orangie, or Pumpkin Spider.
- Colors range from extremely light yellow to very dark grey.
- All individuals have white markings across the top of the abdomen, with four or more segments forming a cross (LOOK AT THE PICTURE ABOVE).
- Females range in length from 6.5 to 20 mm, while males range from 5.5 to 13 mm.
Cross Orbweavers are one of the most well-known spiders in Turkmenistan.
These spiders are common in many habitats, including forest clearings, hedgerows, meadows, and gardens. They are also seen near humans, such as near buildings or lighted stairwells. Cross Orbweavers typically hang upside down at the center of their spiral webs.
Interestingly, when approached, they start shaking and vibrating their web in hopes of startling the perceived intruder. If this fails, the spider will typically drop straight down out of sight. Luckily, Cross Orbweavers are not aggressive and typically only bite when accidentally grabbed. Bite symptoms include mild pain, redness, and swelling that may last a few days.
Believe it or not, these common spiders build a new web EVERY DAY. So, yes, they eat the entire web every night and then begin construction on a new one. And lastly, if you are a male Cross Orbweaver, you must be careful with females, as you will often be eaten directly after mating!
#6. European Nursery Web Spider
- Pisaura mirabilis
- Slender abdomen with LONG legs (the fourth one is the longest).
- Colors range from light to reddish brown and from gray to black. A lighter stripe is visible down the middle of the back.
- The male is between 10 and 13 mm, while the female is 12 to 15 mm.
These spiders are commonly found in Turkmenistan in tall grass, shrubs, or along the edges of woodlands.
Looking similar to wolf spiders, European Nursery Web Spiders get their name for how females protect their egg sacs. After carrying the egg sac in her mouth for a bit, she hides it under a leaf and spins a protective silk enclosure around the egg sac. From there, she sticks around to protect the babies until after their first molt. 🙂
European Nursery Web Spiders have a fascinating mating ritual! First, males find a gift, such as a dead insect, to offer to a prospective female. Then, after presenting the gift, the female will bite onto the gift if she is interested. From there, the male will move to deposit sperm with his pedipalps. WATCH THIS BEHAVIOR BELOW (and see if the male survives)!
Interestingly, during copulation, the male almost ALWAYS keeps a leg on the gift, just in case the female decides to run away with it or attack him. If the female does change her mind about mating and starts to show aggression, the male typically will pretend to play dead until she calms down, at which point he may try mating again. The things spiders will do for love!
#7. 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 Turkmenistan 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 Turkmenistan !
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!
Learn about other animals found in Turkmenistan:
Which of these spiders have you seen before in Turkmenistan?
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