Turkey is a land of dusty mountains and wild plains, where ocelots roam the hillsides and wolf packs stalk the steppe. But there are also smaller critters in this eastern corner of the continent where Europe joins Asia, and plenty of eight-legged ones at that. But what are the most common spiders in Turkey?
That’s precisely what this guide is all about. Here, we’ll focus in on a handful of critters to showcase the most common spiders in Turkey in all their glory. There’s a curious mix, from beefy huntsman spiders that represent some of the largest of all to striped wasp spiders with their yellow and black colorations.
The good news is that only one of the most common spiders in Turkey listed here is considered dangerous to humans. Some of the others do posses a venom and can bite, but incidents are almost never fatal. Phew! Let’s begin…
Cross orb-weaver (Araneus diadematus)
The cross orb-weaver starts out our list of the most common spiders in Turkey. Also known as the common European garden spider and the cross spider, it’s a species that’s not only widely seen in the land of smoking shisha pipes and soaring mosque minarets, but also right across mainland Europe and the UK. It’s even now been imported to the USA and Canada, where it’s listed as an introduced species.
As the various monikers imply, this one is famed for the cross pattern that forms at the intersection of various body parts on the main back of the spider. It’s usually picked out in light beiges or browns, delineated by darker mahogany and coffee hues to the left and right. The legs of the cross orb-weaver are generally thick set and slightly hairy. The head is much smaller than the abdomen.
Also as the name implies, orb-weavers built orb-type webs. They’re a special, highly adapted form of web that are exceptionally efficient at hoovering up flying prey from the air. Built in a circular or spherical pattern, they allow the hunter to remain hidden within the center of their own orb ready to pounce.
Cross orb-weavers do have a venom but it’s really only enough to incapacitate other insects and flies before they’re wrapped up in silk for preservation. Incidents of human bites are not only rare, but usually lead to nothing more than some localized pain and irritation.
European black widow (Latrodectus tredecimguttatus)
Sorry, arachnophobes, but the dreaded black widow does live in Turkey. Cue the Mediterranean black widow, Latrodectus tredecimguttatus. This guy makes its home across two main parts of the continent. It starts in the west, where it lives in the coastal reaches of southern Spain and all along the rocky beaches of the Adriatic. In the east, it covers huge swathes of the Central Asian steppe and Eurasia. In Turkey, they’re mainly found along the Aegean Coast, the Turquoise Coast, and near the Bosporus – all the top holiday spots, then!
Distinctive by name, distinctive by appearance, the black widows of Europe follow the same form as black widows everywhere on the planet. They have a jet-black body that’s speckled by dots of scarlet red or dark, ochre-like brown. Those markings are there to say “do not touch,” because the black widow isn’t just one of the most common spiders in Turkey – it’s also one of the most dangerous common spiders in Turkey!
Yep, the venom that these guys can inject during a bite is known to be capable of killing a human. Now, we’d stress that that outcome is extremely rare. However, victims prone to allergic reactions and shock are at more of a risk. There have also been major public health incidents in Europe that have seen plagues of bites erupting in single locations just after the mating season, with multiple bite incidents, usually involving farm workers and rural workers.
Wasp spider (Argiope bruennichi)
You can’t miss a wasp spider. They look, well…like a wasp. The whole abdomen here is striped with a clear black-yellow pattern that resembles the design of those flier’s bright and zingy bodies. That joins with a series of spiky legs that look like pipe cleaners, only without the hair, each colored with dark blacks and lighter mustard tones. There’s a slightly hirsute head area that hides the eyes.
Scientists don’t really know the reason for the unusual adaptations that make these guys look like the doppelganger of everyone’s least-loved summer picnic guests. However, the generally accepted theory is that it helps the wasp spider attract prey to their large, silken nets. Others think it’s used as a way to stand out during the mating season.
All that aside, there’s no denying that wasp spiders are a strange bunch. They display certain behaviors that set them apart from the rest of the spider world. For one, the female mate will often completely devour her male partner once copulation is finished. That’s why you find way more women in the general population later on in the season!
Wasp spiders have actually done pretty well for themselves over the years. They can be found virtually all over Eastern Europe, Central Europe, and even in the UK, where they’re listed as an invasive species. In Turkey, they reside mainly in the west of the country, but are thought to have a range that extends right out to the eastern border.
Wolf spider (Hogna radiata)
There are umpteen different types of wolf spider that roam the whole planet. Seriously, this type of arachnid is present on the fringes of Alaska and in the depths of South Africa. It can be found in the balmy reaches of Southeast Asia and along the shores of Patagonia. Turkey has its own sub-species: The Hogna radiata, a relatively common wolf spider that usually lives in open grasslands and woods.
Wolf spiders look quintessentially spider like. They sport a bulbous abdomen with a clearly protruding spinneret poking from the back end. The frontal thorax – also known as the cephalothorax – is hairy and enlarged, coming covered in the same brown-tan color as the whole body of the creature. It’s got big fangs at the front and sensors protruding from between the main front legs, which help it navigate lawns and whatnot.
Wolf spiders are considered a mildly venomous species. They have a bite that’s usually used to paralyze smaller prey like flies and beetles. When used on a human, that can cause some local pain, but it’s often said to be similar to that of a wasp. These guys are also notoriously shy customers. They don’t like being picked up and handled and will usually retreat to the nearest nook or cranny to escape a meeting with one of us.
European huntsman (Eusparassus walckenaeri)
Anyone who’s ever had the pleasure of vacationing Down Under along the sunny shores or in the dusty outback of Australia will probably be reeling at the sight of the name huntsman on this list of the most common spiders in Turkey. This genus of eight-legged beast is known to be one of the largest darn insect critters to be found in the land of the digeridoo and the cork-dangling hat. They’re not really the sort of thing you want to wake up to find in the bedroom!
Thankfully, the Eusparassus walckenaeri – the European version of this beefy spider – isn’t quite as large as it’s compadre from Oz. They have a main body that only usually grows to about 5cm across but have legs that can protrude double that from the thorax on both sides. Said legs are distinctively hairy and striped alternately in black and lighter beige, which is one of the reasons that these guys are so often confused with tarantulas. The torso comes in two parts, with a longer, bell-shaped back end that forms a single point.
The European huntsman has various iterations all over the continent. There are types that live all the way in the west in Portugal. There are others that inhabit the flat lands of Spain. This subspecies is limited to a dash of the eastern Mediterranean, where it’s found on the islands of Greece all the way through to the coast of the Levant in Israel, with Turkey – specifically the Aegean coast of Turkey – sat smack dab in the middle.
The one piece of good news here is that huntsman spiders are not venomous or dangerous. We repeat: They ARE NOT dangerous. Bites have occurred in humans, but they rarely lead to any more than localized pain and swelling. Most of the time, this spider will prowl dark and dry corners of the home searching for other insects to devour.
The most common spiders in Turkey – our conclusion
The most common spiders in Turkey are a pretty similar bunch to the most common spiders you get right across Europe. The main culprits are regular house spiders and garden spiders. They’re either not venomous or only mildly venomous, and typically hunt other insects. However, there are also a couple of more remarkable types of eight-legged critters to be found here, in the form of the much-feared black widow and the striped wasp spider.