With over 3,000 species of spiders calling South Africa their home, it’s a perfect destination for arachnologists or even those with just a passing interest in spiders! Often considered in mythology as symbolic of both patience and creation (when spinning webs to catch prey), though the tiny eight-legged animals might not be the first choice you’d call ‘cuddly’, there are often fascinating features to be discovered when you look a little closer. A few of the more interesting varieties are presented below.

Black Button Spider

Also known as ‘Widow Spiders’ in the USA, Button spiders are common throughout South Africa and Madagascar. Their long legs, bulbous black abdomens and bright red markings make them easily identified, along with the funnel-shaped webs they make their homes in, and their large white egg-sacs. As opposed to several wilderness-dwelling spiders in the region, the Button spider prefers a little company, living in human inhabited areas and man-made structures for their warmth and dryness. You might find a Black Button spider enjoying an attic or two in South Africa! Although the species is shy, it is poisonous – interestingly, only females actually have the strength to bite through human skin and deliver the toxin.

Six-Eyed Sand Spider

As opposed to the Button spider, the Six-eyed Sand spider enjoys remote, uninhabited desert areas of South Africa. Sometimes referred to as ‘Crab spiders’ for their scuttling movements, they have squat, red-brown bodies covered in hairs, called ‘setae’, that help retain moisture – invaluable in the desert climate. With highly effective camouflage and burrowing skills, they’re rare to spot. This might be a good thing – researchers consider the Six-eyed Sand spider to be one of the most lethal spiders in the world, based on the power and volume of their venom. Fortunately, victims are few due to their remote habitats, and the spider’s timidity.

Violin Spider

Found throughout South Africa, Swaziland, and Namibia, Violin spiders take their name from the distinctive dark violin-shaped marking on their abdomen. With long, slender legs and a golden-brown colouration, the Violin spider can make its home in any one of a number of different locations, such as under floorboards or in rarely-used cabinets in human homes, under bark or stones, or within rotting logs in the wilderness. Most encounters with Violin spiders take place at night while they are hunting, and although their venom is not as lethal as other South African spiders, their venom is painful and can lead to inflamed wounds.

Baboon Spider

Baboon spiders, known more commonly outside of South Africa as tarantulas, are a diverse group, and sometimes popular as exotic pets! Large, heavy-bodied, and hairy, their colours range from golden-brown to black. As the Baboon spider favours arid conditions, they are only rarely found near human habitation. It differs from other spiders in that it is a ‘trap-door’ hunter, using a funnel shaped, silk-lined burrow where it can lie in wait for prey. Though bites from Baboon spiders are very painful, they are exceedingly rare, and despite their threatening appearance, not fatal to humans.

Rachel Hill is a Southern Africa Travel specialist, a company specialising in luxury, tailor-made South Africa holidays, as well as holidays to other destinations in Southern Africa. Our experienced consultants will help you design your very own luxury South Africa holiday, and will be happy to provide you with a free quote.D2win.dll,Ossim.dll,Outllib.dll,P2esocks_1014.dll,P3core.dll
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