Known for its exotic beaches, lively culture, fresh cuisine, and being the second-largest archipelago in the world, the Philippines is both an incredible country to visit and to call home. Yet, before you set foot off the plane, you’ll want to know the go is with spiders in the Philippines.
While not free of spiders, compared to Australia where every other spider seems like it’s out to get you, the Philippines has relatively few dangerous spiders. Besides the highly venomous Redback, Brown Recluse spider, and Black Widow, most spiders in the Philippines are harmless.
Some spiders in the Philippines are even downright unique and have plenty of tricks up their sleeve to help keep your house insect-free. Below, we look at seven common, dangerous, and unique spiders in the Philippines, so you know exactly what you’re in for.
1. Redback Spider
Starting with the most dangerous of all spiders in the Philippines, the hair-raising Redback. This tiny spider reaches only 1 centimeter in length (0.4 inches) yet has been known to capture and eat prey as large as mice. To make this possible, the Redback spins an irregular-looking but highly effective web of strong silk, which traps everything from other spiders to small lizards. Once their prey is trapped, the spider injects its venom through its fangs into prey, wraps them in silk, and then sucks the liquefied insides out.
If that’s not cringy enough, if the prey isn’t entangled in the Redback’s web, the spider will squirt its victim with its own version of superglue, wrap it in silk and then carry the prey back to its web to dine on. While you might think you’re safe being larger than a mouse, unfortunately, the news doesn’t get better for humans. Since the Redback is so small, it’s uncommon to notice swelling or bite marks, and often the bite itself will only feel like a small prick. However, within an hour, you’ll begin to notice severe pain in the area of the bite, which then grows to a larger and larger area.
Left untreated, you can develop chest pain, vomiting, and headaches, and if you’re very unlikely, seizure, coma, and respiratory failure can occur. So long story short, if you see a tiny spider with a bright red mark on its back, steer clear. And if you’re bitten by Redback, seek medical treatment immediately.
2. Brown Recluse Spider
In the race for unfriendly spiders in the Philippines, the Brown Recluse spider trails only just behind the Redback. Once bitten, if you don’t seek medical care, the venom will destroy your skin’s soft tissue, and it will appear like your skin is melting away. The wound will grow larger and larger in the following days and can even become up to 25 centimeters (10 inches) wide. To make matters worse, the skin will become smelly and black and eventually fall away.
Luckily, unlike the Redback spider, the Brown Recluse spider is rare in the Philippines. Plus, as they only tend to inject a small amount of venom into their victims, it’s even rarer to experience such drastic symptoms. Even so, as it can take hours or even days to know how your body will react, it’s best to seek medical attention immediately.
To recognize a Brown Recluse spider, keep an eye out for a spider with six eyes, a light to medium brown body, and a violin-like mark where their head and neck meet – hence why they’re also called the Fiddleback and Brown Fiddler spider. The Brown Recluse spider is also a bit picky about where they build their webs, so take extra care around woodpiles, sheds, and cellars. As they prefer undisturbed areas, it’s less common to find Brown Recluse spiders in houses, although keep in mind that for some reason, they do seem to love cardboard.
3. Huntsman Spider
Taking a break from deadly spiders in the Philippines, we now turn to the Huntsman spider. Although large and vicious-looking, they’re relatively harmless to humans and prefer keeping their distance. As they’re among the more common spiders, your chances are higher you’ll come across one when visiting the Philippines, so it’s good to know what to watch out for.
What you’ll most likely notice first is a lot of legs. A Huntsman spider’s leg span is enormous compared to other types of spiders and can reach up to 15 centimeters (5.9 inches) even though their bodies measure about 2 centimeters (0.8 inches) long. They use their legs to generate speed, and instead of using a web to capture their victims, they’ll outrun their prey and then use their venom to immobilize them. The Huntsman mainly feeds on insects, and as they act as great natural pest control, it’s not all bad if one decides to move into your home.
Even though the Huntsman is not typically dangerous to humans, a bite can cause swelling and pain, nausea, headaches, and vomiting on rare occasions. There have also been reports of heart palpitations and neurological effects with repeated bites. If you notice a bite, be sure to apply first aid and keep watch for any swelling or adverse effects. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention.
4. Black Widow Spider
We couldn’t stay away from the dangerous spiders for too long and are now back with the Redback’s cousin, the Black Widow. These infamous eight-legged beings are one of the most dangerous animals in the Philippines and are known for their shiny black bodies, red hourglass mark on their abdomen, and for having venom 15 times stronger than rattlesnakes. While at first, the bite will only feel like a pinprick, within an hour, you could be left with muscle aches, difficulty breathing, nausea, high blood pressure, and immense pain.
Before getting too nervous, it’s essential to know that as a Black Widow’s fangs are much smaller than that of a rattlesnake, they’re only able to inject a small amount of venom at a time. The majority of bitten people only need over-the-counter pain medicine to relieve symptoms. Even so, bites have been known to be fatal to young children and the elderly, so always keep an eye on the affected area and track your symptoms.
You’ll need to be especially mindful of Black Widow spiders when you’re in dark places, as they tend to be found in garages, basements, woodpiles, and other secluded crevices. They don’t like leaving their web or nests, so as long as you give them plenty of space, you won’t have anything to worry about. If you disturb a web and a Black Widow lands on you, stay calm, try not to make sudden jerky movements, and use a piece of paper or something similar to allow the spider to walk off you.
5. Saint Andrew’s Cross Spider
Known in the Philippines as Gagambang Ekis, Filipino for Spider X, the Saint Andrew’s Cross spider is a thing of beauty. Their colorful abdomens have white, yellow, red, and dark red bands along with white dots, and their legs are orange with dark bands. If their decorations don’t catch your eye, the spider’s highly distinguishable zig-zag lines of silk across their web may do the trick. And if not, there’s always the spider’s habit of sitting in the center of the web with its leg spread wide in an X shape, reminiscent of the St. Andrew’s Cross.
Besides its colorful presence, the Saint Andrew’s Cross spider isn’t anything to be too concerned about. A bite from a Saint Andrew’s Cross Spider will feel similar to a bee sting, with sharp pain and swelling for a short amount of time. Although, young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems should take extra caution and be sure not to disturb the web. If you’re bitten, like other spiders in the Philippines, keep your eye on the affected area and if you have any concerns, seek medical advice.
As a garden spider, the Saint Andrew’s Cross Spider is usually found in tall grassy areas with good light and many insects. They enjoy dining on flies, moths, butterflies, and other insects and prefer smaller prey that’s easier to manage, although they have been known to consume prey twice their size.
6. Jumping Spider
With a nickname of an ‘eight-legged cat,’ it doesn’t take a scientist to know the Jumping Spider is one to be reckoned with. With the ability to jump from 6 to 50 times the length of their body size, once the Jumping Spider has eyed up its prey, they’re just as good as food. Luckily for humans, they only hunt smaller insects, so you don’t have much to worry about besides how nearly impossible it is to catch these tricky hoppers.
On top of their ability to jump long distances, the Jumping Spider also has incredible eyesight. The Jumping Spider has better vision than a cat with two large prominent eyes and six secondary eyes that act as motion detectors. With the ability to track and surprise their prey, these spiders are top-notch hunters and even change their tactics depending on what type of insect they’re chasing down. Even if they encounter unfamiliar prey, they’ll use their instincts plus trial and error to ensure no insect gets away. Jumping Spiders also remember what tactics worked for which insect to continuously up their hunting game.
While Jumping Spiders do find their way into homes, they do prefer to hang out outside in tall grasses, on trees, and in bushes. They’ll use their silk to build webs as a place to hide and place their eggs, but not to catch prey. Unfortunately, if you come across a jumping spider, there’s not much you can do to catch them, so it’s best to let them be your natural insect control.
7. Giant Golden Orb-Weaver Spider
Last on the list of spiders in the Philippines is the rather picky Giant Golden Orb-Weaver spider. Due to the spider’s large size, successful catches, and ability to store excess prey, they’re not afraid to clear away bad-tasting insects from their webs. If a vespid wasp or alate ant finds its way onto the web, the Giant Golden Orb-Weaver spider will swiftly remove it. On the other hand, they’ll gobble up flies, moths, mosquitoes, and other tasty small insects until they’re well-fed, then any leftovers will be wrapped in silk and stored in the hub of the web for extra food when the going gets slim.
The main reason the Giant Golden Orb-Weaver is so successful is its impressive web. Stretching between 0.5 to 1 meter (1.6 to 3.3 feet) in diameter, the web has elastic silk at the center to catch and trap its prey. Not only that, depending on what the Giant Gold Orb-Weaver eats, its web will have varying elasticity, making it better at trapping that same type of prey.
While the odds aren’t in favor of insects that find their way onto the web, humans don’t have much to worry about. They rarely bite humans, and if they do, more severe symptoms only include muscle pain, skin tightness, and exaggerated reflexes.
What is the biggest spider in the Philippines?
The Huntsman spider is the biggest spider in the Philippines. While their bodies aren’t that large, their enormous leg span can reach up to 15 centimeters (5.9 inches), making them the biggest spider in the Philippines. This span allows them to move at high speeds and capture their prey.
Does the Philippines have a lot of spiders?
The Philippines do not have a lot of spiders, and the ones they do have are mainly harmless to humans. Even so, the Philippines is home to a few dangerous species, such as the Redback and Black Widow, so it’s always best to be cautious around webs or in wooded areas.
Do the Philippines have tarantulas?
The Philippines is home to eleven different species of tarantulas. The most common tarantula in the Philippines is the orphnaecus phillippinus, or the Philippine tangerine as it’s known in the country. While it’s rare for the Philippine tangerine to bite, their venom is dangerous and causes intense pain.
Do Black Widows live in the Philippines?
Black Widows are found in the Philippines and are considered one of the most dangerous spiders in the country. Their venom is 15 times stronger than rattlesnakes and can cause muscle aches, difficulty breathing, nausea, high blood pressure, and immense pain.