Sweden is the country that gave the world Abba, IKEA, Swedish meatballs and so much more. A nature lover’s paradise, this Scandinavian country hosts thickly wooded forests, vast lakes, and snow-capped mountains. It’s home to a great variety of wildlife, from reindeer and brown bears to arctic foxes and…spiders? That’s right, there are over 700 species of spiders in Sweden.
Arachnophobes fear not: the vast majority of spiders in Sweden are completely harmless to humans. There are just two main species worth worrying about: The Black Widow spider, and the Huntsman spider, both of which are fairly rare in this country.
So, what spiders can you expect to find in Sweden? Join us as we take you through seven spiders you should look out for on your trip to Sweden.
In recent years, there have been numerous sightings of Black Widows in Sweden, leading experts to conclude that the feared spider now calls Sweden home. Native to North and South America, Black Widows likely arrived in Sweden in imported cargo. The country’s climate is well-suited to the hardy spiders, while their predatory nature means they don’t need specific food in order to survive. Black Widows are characterized by a large, mostly black, shiny abdomen with red markings often in the shape of an hourglass with relatively long slim legs. The females are larger than the males, growing to a size of 8-15mm. They get their name from their unusual mating process, whereby the female consumes the male after having sex.
While still rare in Sweden, the Black Widow is most frequently found in undisturbed areas such as sheds, disused machinery, and old cupboards. As highly venomous spiders, they pack a nasty bite. Symptoms include pain, swelling, fever, abdominal pain, muscle spasms, and breathing trouble. The venom is rarely deadly in healthy adults however, if the victim is a child, elderly, or has an underlying health concern, the risks are higher, and emergency medical treatment should be found. However, Black Widows are not aggressive by nature, and bites are rare. When they occur, it’s usually because someone accidentally disturbed their web and the widow reacted defensively.
European Sac Spider
The European Sac Spider is another potentially dangerous spider in Sweden. . Variations of sac spiders are found all over the world, from North and South America, to South Africa, Europe, and Japan. These spiders range from light green to pale yellow in color, with brown jaws and bodies that reach up to 9mm in size. Unlike most spiders, sac spiders don’t create webs. As their name suggests, sac spiders like to construct a flat silk sac, where they spend most of their time. This sac may be located in a shielded spot, like where a wall and ceiling meet, or in a leaf.
Sac spiders’ tendency to hunt, rather than trap their prey means that they have a more aggressive nature than other spiders. They can bite when feeling threatened, and carry a necrotic venom that can cause pain, swelling, and lesions in humans. However, their venom is generally considered mild to humans, meaning that bites are not hugely dangerous. However, they can cause trouble if they become infected.
Sweden is also home to a population of Huntsman Spiders. These long-legged spiders make for a frightful sight – reaching up to 15 cm in leg span. Huntsman spiders are mostly grey or brown in color and sometimes have banded legs. Their flat bodies are adapted for living in narrow spaces, such as under loose bark or rock crevices. Huntsman spiders are also sometimes called giant crab spiders, due to their legs, which splay out in a crab-like fashion.
Unlike most spiders, Huntsman spiders don’t spin webs. Instead, they actively hunt for their prey, which is usually insects and other invertebrates. Don’t worry though, Huntsman spiders don’t exhibit the same aggressive behavior towards humans. They are rarely confrontational towards humans, except for when mothers are protecting their young. Their bites do carry venom, but while painful, it’s rarely fatal to humans. If you’re bitten by a huntsman spider, you can expect to see some swelling in the local area. One of the most important things to remember if you’re bitten by a huntsman spider is to stay calm – panicking can speed up the flow of venom through the body, causing a more aggressive reaction. Apply an ice pack and the swelling should go down in a few hours.
European Cave Spider
The European cave spider is a long-jawed orb-weaving spider. They live all over the world, from Scandinavia to North Africa and Korea. These fairly large spiders reach 15mm in size and have a large, bulbous body that varies from black, brown or even olive green in color. It’s extremely rare to spot these cave spiders – not because they are rare species, but because they live dark in the depths of caves, mines, and tunnels. In fact, European cave spiders are photophobic, meaning that they are extremely sensitive to light.
The European cave spider is not dangerous to humans. While they do carry venom, their effect on humans is negligible. They are unlikely to bite if carefully handled but if sufficiently provoked they are capable of inflicting an unpleasant nip. However, they are non-aggressive in nature and generally regarded as gentle giants.
Lace web spider
Lace web spiders are a common species of spider in Sweden. They are regular inhabitants of gardens and woodlands, but can also be found inside the house during the autumn months when they retreat inside to find a mate. Lace web spiders are medium in size, reaching between 5 and 12mm, with males tending to be smaller than females. They are brown or black in color.
Lace web spiders are generally non-aggressive towards humans, but they do pack a painful bite. The symptoms of lace web spider bites include localized swelling, which can last for some hours. The swelling should go down after applying a cold press.
Zebra jumping spider
The Zebra jumping spider is one of the most distinctive-looking spiders in Sweden. As their name would suggest, Zebra jumping spiders have black and white striped markings. Female zebra spiders are 5–9 mm long, while males are 5–6 mm. They have large front eyes, which they use to locate and stalk their prey, which consists of smaller spiders and other arthropods. Their hunting behavior has been described as cat-like: they slowly move closer to their prey until they are close enough to pounce.
Zebra jumping spiders prefer the outdoors, though they sometimes venture into homes by accident. You can usually find zebra jumping spiders clinging to walls on the sunny side of the house or near doors and windows. These arachnids frequently deposit their egg sacs under eaves or window sills. Zebra jumping spiders are not aggressive and will not bite unless handled or otherwise threatened. They do produce venom, which is used to subdue their prey, but this spider’s venom is likely only to cause minimal injury to humans since the spiders are so small.
Rabbit Hutch Spider
The Rabbit Hutch Spider is a species of extremely common spider found throughout Northern Europe. It has a glossy chestnut brown abdomen, usually with a thin pale band stretching across the front that incorporates a central white ‘V’ just behind the head. The strength and clarity of the abdominal markings can vary with the age of the individual spider, and some older specimens can appear almost unmarked and very dark. Females grow up to 7mm and males to about 5 mm. They are usually found indoors, often in garages, sheds and animal pens.
The rabbit hutch spider comes from the same family as the feared black widow and the two species are commonly confused for one another. However, unlike their dangerous doppelgangers, rabbit hutch spiders are completely harmless to humans.
Are there any dangerous spiders in Sweden?
There have been a number of sightings of Black Widow spiders in Sweden lately. As highly venomous spiders, they pack a nasty bite. Symptoms include pain, swelling, fever, abdominal pain, muscle spasms, and breathing trouble. The venom is rarely deadly in healthy adults however, if the victim is a child, elderly, or has an underlying health concern, the risks are higher, and emergency medical treatment should be found. However, Black Widows are not aggressive by nature, and bites are rare. When they occur, it’s usually because someone accidentally disturbed their web and the widow reacted defensively.
What is the largest spider found in Sweden?
The two largest spiders in Sweden are Huntsman spiders and European cave spiders. Both reach 15mm in width. While both carry venom, neither the huntsman spider or the European cave spider are dangerous to humans. Huntsman spiders have a less pleasant bite, which is capable of causing swelling, while the European cave spider bite is more of a nip.
Are spiders common in Sweden?
Spiders are very common in Sweden – it’s not unusual to see them when out and about in the Swedish countryside, and even in more urban areas. In fact, Sweden has over 700 species of spiders. The vast majority of these species are perfectly harmless to humans, but more venomous species such as black widows and huntsman spider do occasionally occur in these parts,
Are there huntsman spiders in Sweden?
Yes, Huntsman spiders are found in Sweden. These large and long-legged spiders can reach 15-mm in size, making for a frightening sight. They are sometimes called giant crab spiders due to the way in which they move. While they pack a nasty bite, Huntsman spiders are not excessively harmful to humans.