Cyprus has an amazing array of beautiful invertebrates and the spiders found in Cyprus are no exception. Spiders are largely under-recorded in Cyprus and as of 2019 there were only around 450 known species. It is highly likely many more species are still waiting to be discovered. At least 19 of the known species are considered as endemic to Cyrus and are found nowhere else in the world.  LINK

There are four species of spider in Cyprus with a bite that's considered to be of medical concern to humans. There are two Black Widow species from the Latrodectus genus, the Dahl's Widow, Latrodectus Dahli, and the Mediterranean Black widow, Latrodectus tredecimguttatus. Both of these have become increasingly difficult to find and despite my endless searching whilst holidaying in Cyprus I have yet to find either species. There is also the Brown Widow, Latrodectus geometricus, but whilst bites from this species can be painful they usually pose  little risk to humans. The last species of medical concern is the Mediterranean Recluse, Loxosceles rufescens. 

The Mediterranean False Widow, Steatoda paykulliana may also be considered to have a bite of minor medical significance.

Jumping Spiders of Cyprus

Jumping Spiders, from the family Salticidae, are generally small spiders, that do not build webs, but instead hunt by stalking their prey before jumping on top of it and taking it by surprise. Bites to humans are extremely rare and no species of Jumping Spider has a bite of medical significance to humans. Bites would result in nothing more that a small itchy red lump at the site of the bite area.

8mm Mediterranean Jumping Spider (Menemerus semilimbatus) found on a wall by our hotel swimming pool in Paphos, Cyprus in May 2019.

Mediterranean Jumping Spider  -  (Menemerus semilimbatus)
Menemerus semilimbatus is a species of Mediterranean Jumping Spider found in Asia, Africa, USA, South America and Europe. Females can have a body-length of up to 9mm and males slightly less. They are usually found living in stone or brick walls but can also be found on trees. This specimen was found on a brick wall by the swimming pool of our hotel in Paphos.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

8mm Mediterranean Jumping Spider (Menemerus semilimbatus) found on a wall by our hotel swimming pool in Paphos, Cyprus in May 2019.

12mm female Pantropical Jumping Spider   (Plexippus paykulli)

Pantropical Jumping Spider   (Plexippus paykulli)
A Large Jumping Spider with a typical body-length of around 10mm for females, however the female specimen pictured above was particularly large at 12mm. These were photographed in May in Paphos. They were fairly common and found under many discarded items I turned over in a piece of wasteland near our beachfront hotel in Paphos. This species will prey on a variety of insects which it often overpowers with its strength before the venom from its bite has time to take effect. Their bite to humans, although not dangerous, is said to be highly irritant. 

Female Pantropical Jumping Spider (Plexippus paykulli) found under rubbish bags dumped on wasteland by Paphos Beach on 7th May 2020.

Female Pantropical Jumping Spider (Plexippus paykulli) found under rubbish bags dumped on wasteland by Paphos Beach on 15th May 2019.

Female Pantropical Jumping Spider (Plexippus paykulli) found under rubbish bags dumped on wasteland by Paphos Beach on 15th May 2019.

9mm male Pantropical Jumping Spider (Plexippus paykulli). Photographed on poolside vegetation at our hotel in Paphos, September 2023.

Plexippus paykulli is sexually dimorphic. The males are far less stocky than the larger females. Males also have a reddish-brown prosoma and abdomen, with a broad pale stripe running down the centre. The flat-faced head also shows reddish-brown and pale stripes.

Jumping Spider (Macaroeris sp.) found on a palm tree by the beach in Paphos, Cyprus on 7th May 2018.

Macaroeris sp. Jumping Spider  
Small Jumping Spiders with a body-length of around 5-7mm, found in much of Southern Europe including: Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Southern Russia and Ukraine. There are previous records of Macaroeris nidicolens in Paphos, Cyrpus but it has been suggested that my spider looks more like Macaroeris flavicomis which is the only species of Macaroeris found in Turkey. If my spider was confirmed as Macaroeris flavicomis, which is perfectly possible, then that would have been a new species record for Cyprus.

Jumping Spider (Macaroeris sp.) photographed on a palm tree by the beach in Paphos, Cyprus on 7th May 2018. 

Half-edged Wall Jumping Spider, Menemerus semilimbatus, on large rocks in Paphos, September 2023.

Half-edged Wall Jumping Spider  -  (Menemerus semilimbatus) 
The Half-edged Wall Jumping Spider is a Mediterranean species found across much of southern Europe, southern Asia, and in parts of Africa. Sightings have also come from Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and USA. Females grow to around 6.5 - 8.5mm and males are slightly smaller at 5 - 7.5mm. This species is commonly found on the outside walls of buildings. 

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

Half-edged Wall Jumping Spider, Menemerus semilimbatus, on large rocks in Paphos, September 2023.

Half-edged Wall Jumping Spider, Menemerus semilimbatus, on large rocks in Paphos, September 2023.

Half-edged Wall Jumping Spider, Menemerus semilimbatus, on large rocks in Paphos, September 2023.

Half-edged Wall Jumping Spider, Menemerus semilimbatus, found in Paphos, September 2023.

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Female False Widow Spider (Steatoda paykullianafound under a large rock on wasteland by Paphos Beach on 7th May 2018.

Mediterranean False Widow Spider   (Steatoda paykulliana)

Steatoda paykulliana have a body-length of around 8-13mm for females and a leg-span of up to 35mm. Males are smaller at 4.5 - 7mm in body-length.

Steatoda paykulliana is a species found across the Mediterranean that sometimes find its way to the UK amidst imported grapes and other fruit. However there is no evidence available to substantiated any claimed reports of Steatoda Paykulliana being found wild and established anywhere in the UK. 

With its dark black body, and often red markings, this is the species most likely to be mistaken for the far more venomous Black Widow Spiders of the Latrodectus genus. The red markings on the Mediterranean False Widow can also be yellow, orange or white instead of red. However Steatoda paykulliana do not possess the red hour-glass marking usually present on the underside of many Black Widow Spiders.

The bite of Steatoda paykulliana can be quite painful, but it is generally regarded to be of little or no medical significance to humans. Steatoda paykulliana, like other False Widows in the Steatoda genus, are not aggressive and bites to humans are rare in the Mediterranean countries where Steatoda paykulliana are native. In laboratory conditions, during the 1960's & 70's when such tests were more acceptable, Steatoda Paykulliana has been proven to have a venomous bite powerful enough to kill small mammals though, including mice and even large guinea pigs!  (see page 26) LINK. The French INPN (The National Inventory of Natural Heritage) reports that in laboratory conditions Steatoda Paykulliana has been proven to kill adult rats and temporarily paralyse rabbits. LINK

Where I have found Steatoda Paykulliana in Cyprus and southern Spain the conditions were very hot and very dry, and the spiders were found hidden away in darkness beneath rocks on sandy soil at coastal sites. This xerophilic species seems to require hot, dry conditions with low humidity, where it can build its webs low to the ground. The most obvious places that would appear to meet its needs would be within human habitations, and yet Steatoda Paykulliana is more often found outside homes within its natural range. 

In 2019 the Cyprus Spider Catalogue listed the following Steatoda species recorded in Cyprus: Steatoda albomaculata, Steatoda erigoniformis, Steatoda grossa, Steatoda paykulliana, Steatoda trianguloides, Steatoda triangulosa.

11mm adult female Mediterranean False Widow, Steatoda paykullianafound under a large rock near Paphos Beach, June 2018.

This female specimen has an unusually shrivelled abdomen due to having just produced several egg-sacs, which it was guarding when I found it under a large rock in Paphos, Cyprus. These spiders can have a red, yellow or white band around the abdomen. Sometimes they display a midline pattern on their abdomen which can consist of a stripe or a series of triangles or chevrons. In their native countries the Mediterranean False Widow Spider is usually found low to the ground in dry and semi-dry environments with sparse vegetation. Ideal sites include dunes, moors and heathlands, where they are usually found in cracks in walls or under rocks. Other places where Steatoda paykulliana are frequently found include log piles and disused mammal burrows. Mature females usually produce several large, white, fluffy egg-sacs that are as large as the female herself.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4

11mm adult female Mediterranean False Widow, Steatoda paykullianafound under a large rock by Paphos Beach, 15th May 2019.

5mm juvenile Mediterranean False Widow, Steatoda paykullianafound under a large rock on Paphos Beach, September 2023.

5mm juvenile Mediterranean False Widow, Steatoda paykullianafound under rocks on Paphos Beach, September 2023.

Tarantulas in Cyprus

In Cyprus there are two native species of Tarantula found on the island, The European Tarantula, Chaetopelma olivaceum and the Cyprus Tarantula, Chaetopelma karlamani. Both species look very similar and are difficult to separate, but Chaetopelma olivaceum tends to be both larger and darker than Chaetopelma karlamani.

The Cyprus Tarantula, Chaetopelma karlamani, was recognised as a new species in 1995 and is smaller in size than the European Tarantula, Chaetopelma olivaceum. In Cyprus Chaetopelma karlamani is generally confined to the north of the island. One source claims Chaetopelma karlamani can be identified by their proportionally shorter body size when compared to other Chaetopelma species.  LINK    LINK 2

Large female European Tarantula (Chaetopelma olivaceum) with a 50mm body-length.

European Tarantula  (Chaetopelma olivaceum / previously also known as Chaetopelma gracile)
Cyprus has two species of Tarantula, the European Tarantula, Chaetopelma olivaceum, and the Cyprus Tarantula, Chaetopelma karlamani.

Chaetopelma olivaceum is sometimes referred to as the Black Tarantula or Middle-East Gold Tarantula, and is the largest of the few species of Tarantula that can be found within Europe. 

Male Chaetopelma olivaceum usually grow to a body-length of 25mm, but sometimes reach 40mm. The larger females grow to a body-length of 35-50mm. On occasion some specimens can even reach 60mm body-length with a leg-span of well over 100mm. European Tarantulas hunt at night feeding on small invertebrates with millipedes being a favourite. Sometimes small mice and lizards also become prey. During the daytime the European Tarantula hides away under rocks or in stone walls and sometimes under loose bark on trees.

The Cyprus Tarantula, Chaetopelma karlamani is smaller in size, and according to Duncan McCowan's book  '60 Cypriot Spiders' the females typically reach around 23mm in total body-length, and the smaller males reaching around 11.5mm.

50mm female European Tarantula  (Chaetopelma olivaceum)

Whilst turning over rocks in a forest area along the edge of a stream in Paphos I discovered two European Tarantulas under the same rock. One, which may have been a male, had a body-length of 2.5cm and the other, which had to be a female, had a body-length of 5cm. Once disturbed the small specimen laid on its back and pretended to be dead. The larger female was extremely defensive and immediately raised itself up on its back legs revealing the large fangs and red mouth-parts. It held this position for about 10 minutes and occasionally made stabbing gestures at the ground. I also discovered that this species is very fast moving and is capable of jumping around six inches in order to escape or to defend itself with a bite to a potential predator.

The bite of the European Tarantula is not usually dangerous to healthy humans and is often considered to be not much worse than a wasp sting. However different people can react differently to the venom and I have read one account, on a spider forum, by a Cypriot who claims to know of a bite victim spending 8 days in hospital following a bite from this species.

European Tarantulas sometimes live in large colonies under rocks. The underside of the rock where I discovered these two specimens was littered with the remains of beetles, millipedes and other invertebrates. Unlike many species of spider the female European Tarantula is not usually aggressive towards the male. After mating the female usually lays around 300 eggs. Spiderlings usually stay with the adult female until after their 2nd moulting before dispersing.

Threat display by large female European Tarantula 

European Tarantulas can be found across the Middle-East including Turkey, Cyprus, Israel and Sudan. Occasionally these spiders find their way into homes, where they feed on pests such as cockroaches.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4    LINK 5

50mm body-length female European Tarantula 

Chaetopelma olivaceum and Chaetopelma gracile were once considered to be two different species, but since 2008 both are now classed as one and the same, Chaetopelma olivaceum.

The term "European Tarantula" can be confusing as the term is also sometimes used to refer to the Tarantula Wolf Spider (Lycosa tarantula)   

50mm female European Tarantula  (Chaetopelma olivaceum)

25mm body-length, European Tarantula playing dead.

Finding Tarantulas in Cyprus

Tarantulas hide themselves away under objects during the daytime, and only usually venture out at night to hunt. Whilst they generally prefer woodland edges they can often often be found hunting around buildings at night for invertebrates, such as cockroaches. They turn up every now and then floating in swimming pools as they search for water to drink in the hotter months of the summer. Other than lifting all large objects you find on the ground the best chance of finding one is to go out late at night with a torch and search around buildings that back onto grassland or woodland areas. It's often just a case of being in the right place at the right time. I have been informed that there is a cemetery in the centre of Larnaca, Cyprus, that has an abundance of tarantulas living in the walls around the cemetery.

25mm body-length, European Tarantula

This species is sometimes bred in captivity for the pet trade and specimens can be bought from the Spider Shop UK. The Spider Shop recommend keeping the European Tarantula at a temperature of 25-28 degrees, with a humidity of 50-60%. They class this species as easy to keep, but aggressive. Other keepers have described them as nervous, highly strung, very defensive, extremely fast and likely to escape given any opportunity. I have certainly found them to be very fast and defensive when disturbed. I would strongly urge people not to take any species from the wild to be kept as a pet but to always seek out captive-bred specimens instead. This species is definitely not suited to anyone new to keeping tarantulas.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

35mm Tarantula (Chaetopelma cf olivaceum), found under rocks in Paphos, September 2023.

This fairly small Tarantula was found in the Paphos Harbour area after I turned over hundreds of rocks. Under this particular rock I spotted a small amount of webbing. When I pulled back the webbing the Tarantula leapt out of its burrow and immediately adopted the typical defensive stance often exhibited by Chaetopelma species. The Tarantula was caught in a pot and moved a short distance into the shade for some photos. During the time I photographed the Tarantula it showed no further defensive behaviour at all and remained largely motionless for the majority of the time. I was quickly able to capture my shots on both a natural and a white background before returning the spider and allowing it to retreat back under its rock.

35mm Tarantula (Chaetopelma cf olivaceum), found under rocks in Paphos, September 2023.

35mm Tarantula (Chaetopelma cf olivaceum), found under rocks in Paphos, September 2023.

35mm Tarantula (Chaetopelma cf olivaceum), found under rocks in Paphos, September 2023.

35mm Tarantula (Chaetopelma cf olivaceum), found under rocks in Paphos, September 2023.

35mm Tarantula (Chaetopelma cf olivaceum), found under rocks in Paphos, September 2023.

17mm female Funnel-Web Spider, Agelena orientalis, found in its web in a large bush in Paphos, September 2023.

Funnel-Web Spider  -  (Agelena orientalis)
Agelena orientalis is a fairly sizeable spider, with females reaching up to 18mm in body-length. Males are slightly smaller and can reach up to 14mm. Agelena orientalis is a close relative of the Labyrinth Spider, Agelena labyrinthica, which is common in the UK. Like the Labyrinth Spider Agelena labyrinthica typically makes its web in bushes and shrubbery, but webs can be found from ground level right up into trees. The dense web consists of deep funnel retreat that allows the spider to sit and wait in safety from potential predators. This species main source of prey is crickets and grasshoppers, and its venomous bite rapidly paralyzes these invertebrates. The venom is not effective on mammals though and the bite is considered to be harmless to humans. Agelena orientalis is present across much of the Mediterranean regions and is also found in parts of Asia too.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4    LINK 5

17mm female Funnel-Web Spider, Agelena orientalis, in Paphos, September 2023.

17mm female Funnel-Web Spider, Agelena orientalis, in Paphos, September 2023.

17mm female Funnel-Web Spider, Agelena orientalis, in Paphos, September 2023.

17mm female Funnel-Web Spider, Agelena orientalis, in Paphos, September 2023.

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Female Lobed Argiope Orb Weaver  -  Argiope lobata
Lobed Argiope Orb Weaver    (Argiope lobata)
The Lobed Argiope is a large Orb-Weaver found across Africa, Southern Europe and Asia, and is closely related to the Wasp Spider, Argiope bruennichi, found in the UK. The female's body-length can be up to 25mm and its leg-span over 50mm. Its bite to humans may be moderately painful but it's not considered harmful.

Female Lobed Argiope Orb Weaver  -  Argiope lobata

Female Lobed Argiope Orb-Weaver, in low vegetation near Paphos Beach, 25th May 2019

Large female Lobed Argiope Orb-Weaver, in low vegetation near Paphos Beach, 5th September 2023

Large female Lobed Argiope Orb-Weaver, in low vegetation near Paphos Beach, 5th September 2023

Immature female Lobed Argiope Orb-Weaver, in low vegetation near Paphos Beach, 25th May 2019

Male Lobed Argiope Orb Weaver  -  Argiope lobata

This male Lobed Argiope Orb Weaver was photographed in-situ basking on a white pillar next to our hotel swimming pool. As with many spiders the male is far smaller and less impressive than the female.

Banded Garden Spider, Argiope trifasciata, Paphos, May 2019
Banded Garden Spider    (Argiope trifasciata)
Also known as: Banded Argiope, Banded Orb-Weaver, Whitebacked Garden Spider. The Banded Garden Spider is another relative of the British Wasp Spider and is found in low vegetation or grass in fields, meadows, gardens and besides freshwater streams and rivers. It grows to maximum leg-span of around 35mm and can produce webs up to 60cm. These spiders can be found in Cyprus, Australia, North America, Canada, Mexico, Israel, Portugal, Puerto Rico, South Africa and Spain. As with all Orb-Weaver Spiders its bite is not dangerous to humans.

Banded Garden Spider, Argiope trifasciata, Paphos, May 2019

Banded Garden Spider, Argiope trifasciata, Paphos, May 2019

Banded Garden Spider, Argiope trifasciata, Kolossi, September 2023

Banded Garden Spider, Argiope trifasciata, Kolossi, September 2023

Banded Garden Spider, Argiope trifasciata, Kolossi, September 2023

Argiope trifasciata egg-sacs, Kolossi, September 2023

The egg-sacs of the female Argiope trifasciata are built in a messy web-structure close to the orb-web of the adult spider.

25mm female Stone Huntsman Spider  (Eusparassus walckenaeri)
Stone Huntsman Spider  (Eusparassus walckenaeri)
Huntsman Spiders are members of the family Sparassidae. They do not build webs to catch their prey and earn their name from their ability to hunt down their prey and move in to attack at great speed. Sparassidae are sometimes referred to as Giant Crab Spiders due to their size and the position of their legs.

The Stone Huntsman Spider is a large spider usually found under stones and rocks in dry areas. Adult females typically have a body-length of around 25mm and a leg-span of over 50mm. This Stone Huntsman Spider was found under a large rock up in the hills of Paphos, and is one of the fastest spiders I have ever photographed. It moved at incredible speed for its size.

10mm juvenile Stone Huntsman Spider  (Eusparassus walckenaeri). Found under a rock in Paphos, September 2023.

11mm gravid female Mediterranean Recluse Spider (Loxosceles rufescens) found under a large rock on wasteland by Paphos Beach on 15th May 2019.

Mediterranean Recluse Spider  /  Violin Spider  (Loxosceles rufescens)
This is a small and inconspicuous spider I found under a large rock in Paphos very near to our beachfront hotel. At the time I had no idea that it was a spider of any significance yet alone a Mediterranean Recluse Spider. Males have a body-length of up to 7-8mm and females 7-12mm. This species is fairly uncommon in Cyprus and they are rarely encountered by humans unless they enter houses. The bite of this spider can be dangerous and there have on rare occasions been human fatalities recorded. Loxosceles contains 134 spider species and spiders of this genus are the only known spiders with necrotic venom. In 90% of cases bites to humans require little more than basic first aid though: rest, ice, compression and elevation, for the wound to heal completely. 

Bites are initially trivial and relatively painless but they can progress to local pain, erythema, discolouration, blistering, ulceration and sometimes necrosis and even acute renal failure. Typically a red itchy rash is visible within 24-48 hours after the bite. In less than 10% of bites classic "bullseye" lesions can then start to occur at the site of the bite, becoming necrotic after 7-14 days and leaving a depressed ulcer. These lesions may take many months to heal and can leave permanent scars to the body tissue. Thankfully the Mediterranean Recluse Spider is not an aggressive species and is usually very reluctant to bite humans, so bites are very rare. In about 1% of cases a systemic reaction can occur, following a bite to humans, which can prove dangerous without medical treatment.

It needs to be stressed though that the Mediterranean Recluse is a very shy species, that not only avoids confrontation with humans, but is also very reluctant to bite even when provoked to do so. In January 2022 results were published of ongoing studies on the Mediterranean Recluse, at the University of South Florida Research Lab 108, by Lou Coticchio. These studies revealed the following results when Mediterranean Recluse specimens were encouraged to bite humans by provocation:

Poking the face: 1.5%

Grabbing the legs: 2.5%
Full-body press while prone (right-side up): 4%
Squeezing of the sides: 22.5%
Full-body press while supine (upside down): 36%
Total bite percentage of all threats & all bites together: 7.4%
These results of defensive bites were lower for the Mediterranean Recluse than for any other species of spider it was compared to during the tests.   LINK
Incredible videos from these studies can be seen here and here, where Mediterranean Recluse spiders refuse to bite a human despite extreme provocation.

The Mediterranean Recluse Spider is originally, as the name suggests, from the Mediterranean, however it can now be found across much of Europe, Asia and America. This spider is sometimes referred to as the Violin Spider, or Fiddleback Spider, due to the brown violin-shaped markings usually present on the carapace.
This species builds a small loose web hidden under rocks or logs, under loose low level tree bark or in wall crevices or basements of heated old houses, where the spider remains hidden away during the daytime. At night these nocturnal wandering hunters may leave their hideaway and hunt for other invertebrates found close to their web.

There are several antivenins produced to combat the effects of this spider including Aracmyn, Suero Antiloxoscelico, Soro Antiarachidico. However these antivenins are not generally available in Europe or the USA and are only available in Mexico and South American countries, such as Brazil, where Loxosceles spiders, and bites to humans, are more common.

The Mediterranean Recluse Spider is identical in appearance to the notorious Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa) and where both species occur in the USA they can only be separated by very close examination of the reproductive organs, which may sometimes require dissection. The venom of both species is very similar. There are other similar looking, but harmless, species of spider in Cyprus that can sometimes be mistaken for Recluse Spiders. Recluse Spiders have six eyes situated in three pairs, in a similar format to Spitting Spiders (Scytodes sp.). 

The legs of the Recluse Spider are uniform in colour with fine hairs, but no leg spines, and the L2 legs are slightly longer than the other legs. The legs have no stripes or banding. The abdomen is uniform in colour and sometimes shows a slightly darker thin central line that usually runs partially, or occasionally almost completely, from the front to the rear. The abdominal central line is most often visible on the stretched abdomen of a gravid or well fed specimen, and where visible the central line usually fades and tapers towards the rear of the abdomen. The typical violin shape on the prosoma is usually darker in colour than the prosoma. The Recluse Spider has six eyes. These eyes are situated in pairs and positioned in such a way that they can resemble two eyes and a nose.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4    LINK 5    LINK 6    LINK 7    LINK 8

The most dangerous of the Recluse Spiders is the Chilean Recluse Spider, also known as the South American Violin Spider, Loxosceles laeta. The Chilean Recluse Spider is found in several South American Countries and its bite is so dangerous that human fatalities in Peru could be as high as 19% of bite victims over 13 years old and 50% of children under that age.  LINK.   After an image of a Chilean Recluse Spider was posted on Facebook one resident of Chile replied claiming that this species can be found in every home there. Where they are found in homes this spider is killed by the people of Chile.  LINK

8mm Mediterranean Recluse Spider (Loxosceles rufescens) found under a rock near Paphos Beach, 1September 2023.

During my 10 day stay in Paphos, during September 2023, I found four Mediterranean Recluse Spiders. All were located under rocks in dry arid areas. They ranged in size from 6-11mm in body-length. For a small spider they move pretty quickly the instant they are disturbed from under their rock. They don't tolerate hot sunlight well and one specimen I caught to photograph died within less that a minute when exposed to the 33 degree heat of the midday sun.

8mm Mediterranean Recluse Spider (Loxosceles rufescens) found under a rock near Paphos Beach, 1September 2023.

Female Nursery-web Spider (Pisaura sp.) photographed in Paphos

Nursery-web Spiders  -  (Pisaura sp.)

Nursery Web Spiders are a group of spiders belonging to the family Pisauridae. In the regions around Greece & Cyprus there are three confirmed Pisaura species that are very similar, and highly variable, in appearance. These include Pisaura consocia, Pisaura novicia, and the European species Pisaura mirabilis, which is also very common in the UK.

Pisaura is a very understudied genus and as of 2024 little is known about any key distinguishing features that would help to identify specimens to species level without microscopic examination of the reproductive organs. 

Male Pisaura mirabilis usually have a body-length of 10-13mm, whilst the female is 12-15mm. These spiders are grey or brown and are similar to Wolf Spiders in that both species can often be seen carrying their egg-sac around with them. However unlike the Wolf Spiders which carry their egg-sac attached to their spinnerets at the rear of their body, the Nursery Web Spider uses its jaws and pedipalps to carry the egg-sac beneath its body. The Nursery Web Spider gets its name from its watchful guarding of its young. When the egg is due to hatch it is fixed to a plant and then covered in a silken tent. The adult spider then stands guard over the spiderlings until they have all dispersed from the tent. These spiders do not spin a web to catch their prey. Males will often present the female with a gift before attempting to mate. This practice has shown that the chances of the female eating the male is drastically reduced.

Male Pisaura consocia typically have a body-length of 7.5-10mm, whilst the female grows to around 7.5-14mm. Pisaura novicia typically have a body-length of 10.5mm for males and 11.5mm for the females.

Female Lynx Spider, Oxyopes lineatus / nigripalpis, photographed on an external wall of a hotel in Paphos, Cyprus, September 2023.

Lynx Spider  -  (Oxyopes sp.)
Lynx Spiders belong to the family Oxyopidae. Although they do produce and use silken threads Lynx Spiders do not build webs to catch their prey. Lynx Spiders are largely ambush predators that often lay in wait for their victims to get too close. Lynx Spiders also actively stalk their prey and once close enough they pounce like a cat, overpowering their prey with their strength. Many species of Lynx Spider prefer to hunt on flowering plants, just as many Crab Spiders do, and prey on pollinators. Most Lynx Spiders have long, spine-like bristles, known as setae, on their legs. These bristles not only act as sensory organs that can detect the slightest movement in the air, but they also help to trap their prey when caught in the spiders grasp. These spiders are not only fast and agile but they have pretty good eye-sight too, and visually identify their prey from at least 10cm away. The positioning of their 8 eyes gives the Lynx Spider almost 360 degree vision.

There are around 300 species of Oxyopidae around the world and 8 of these are known to be present in Cyprus. These include:
Oxyopes globifer, Oxyopes heterophthalmus, Oxyopes lineatus, Oxyopes mediterraneus, Oxyopes nigripalpis, Oxyopes ramosus, Oxyopes sobrinus and Peucetia arabica.

The female Lynx Spider pictured above has been identified as either Oxyopes lineatus or Oxyopes nigripalpisOxyopes globifer is also similar in appearance when viewed from above but this species could be ruled here out by the two vertical lines running down the "face" of the spider.

Oxyopes lineatus grows to around 6-8mm for females, and 4-5m for the smaller males. This species is common in Southern Europe, where it is typically found in sunny locations on low vegetation. - LINK 1    LINK 2

Oxyopes nigripalpis grows to around 6mm for females, and 4-5m for the smaller males. Males are easier to identify due their black pedipalps. This species is found in the Mediterranean regions, where it is considered to be uncommon. -  LINK 1

6mm Walckenaer's Feather-legged Spider, found near the base of a bush in Paphos, Cyprus, September 2023.

Walckenaer's Feather-legged Spider  -  (Uloborus walckenaerius)
There is only one family of spiders in Cyprus that does not use venom to subdue and kill its prey. These spiders have no venom glands at all and rely on their prey becoming entangled in their web before they move in and completely wrap their prey in silk, and then inflict a bite. This is the Uloboridae family of Cribellate Orb-Weavers. In Cyprus there are three species from two genus. There are two fairly similar Uloborus species in Cyprus, Uloborus plumipes and Uloborus walckenaerius. The third and final member of the non-venomous Uloboridae family is Hyptiotes paradoxus. A distinctive species with far shorter and thicker front legs than Uloborus plumipes and Uloborus walckenaerius. The same three species can also be found in the UK, where both Uloborus walckenaerius and Hyptiotes paradoxus are considered to be native.

Walckenaer's Feather-legged Spider typically grows to around 3-4mm for males and 3.5 - 6mm for the larger females. The webs are typically up to 20cm across, and are usually built in vegetation close to the ground. Stabilimentum are sometimes present in these webs. This species prefers warm, open habitat, especially heathland.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

6mm Walckenaer's Feather-legged Spider, found near the base of a bush in Paphos, Cyprus, September 2023.

8mm adult female Brown Widow found in Paphos September 2023.

Brown Widow / Geometric Button Spider  /  Brown Button Spider   (Latrodectus geometricus)
The Brown Widow was originally discovered in South America, although many sources claim that the species originated from southern Africa. The Brown Widow's range now covers many pantropical and subtropical areas around the world. Although this species does turn up in the UK very occasionally, as an accidental stowaway amidst imported fruit and other goods, it is not established anywhere in the UK. The Brown Widow tends to be slightly smaller and usually far lighter in colour than other Black Widow species. Females grow to a body-length of around 7-10mm, whilst the far smaller males only reach 2-4mm. The appearance of the Brown Widow is highly variable but usually ranges from light grey to light brown in colour, with a black & white geometric pattern on the dorsal side of its abdomen, and annulated legs. Darker specimens do also regularly occur though and these can easily be mistaken for juvenile specimens of other Black Widow species, in countries where both species occur, such as the USA. The Brown Widow still possesses the trademark hourglass marking, typical of Latrodectus species, on its underside. However, instead of it being bright red, as with most of its Black Widow cousins, the Brown Widow's hourglass marking is usually orange, or occasionally yellow.

Unlike bites from other Black Widow species bites from the Brown Widow are not usually considered to be dangerous to humans. Although they still possess a potent neurotoxic venom, that effects nerve endings, the yield of that venom is believed to be far lower and the amount of venom injected during any bite is usually considerably less than other Latrodectus species. Most bites from a Brown Widow are not usually medically significant, probably due to the low volume of α-latrotoxin delivered during a bite. The effects are usually confined to the bite area and in 2/3rds of cases result in localised pain, sometimes severe, for 1-2 days and minor swelling for 1-4 days. Sensitivity to venom varies from one person to another though and very occasionally some bite victims can experience the more severe reactions of Latrodectism usually associated with the more dangerous Black Widow species. One such case in the USA, back in 2008, resulted in a previously healthy, adult male victim needing hospitalisation, experiencing symptoms including severe pain, cramps, nausea & vomiting, and fasciculations in the pectoral and quadriceps muscles. LINK

The expanded distribution of the Brown Widow is, like Steatoda nobilis, believed to be a fairly recent adaptation of the species, and DNA testing of Brown Widow specimens from around the world shows very little variation. The Brown Widow is now classed as an invasive species in many areas and has long been suspected as being responsible for displacing some Black Widow species in their native countries. In a recent study, published in January 2023, it was confirmed that the Brown Widow, Latrodectus geometricus, is definitely displacing Florida’s Southern Black Widow, Latrodectus mactans, and California’s Western Black Widow, Latrodectus Hesperus. The studies revealed that Brown Widows have twice the fertility potential as Southern Black Widows. In experiments comparing development, it was shown that sub-adult Brown Widows grew faster and matured earlier, relative to Southern Black Widows. The Brown Widow doe not just predate the Black Widow because of prey scarcity, but the bold Brown Widow actively hunts the shy Black Widow, preferring it to other spider species as prey. 
LINK    LINK 2    LINK 3

8mm adult female Brown Widow found in Paphos September 2023.

The bright orange 'hourglass' marking, found on the underside of the Brown Widow, instantly identifies it as a Latrodectus species.

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Spiders of Europe - Individual country checklists

Scorpions in Cyprus

Cyprus also has two endemic species of scorpion, found only on the island, the Cyprus Scorpion, also known as the Cyprian Checkered Scorpion, Aegaeobuthus cyprius, and the  Buthus kunti. There are also records of Euscorpius italicus being found, but it's believed that this introduced species is not yet established in Cyprus. Both Aegaeobuthus cyprius and Buthus kunti are from the moderate to highly venomous family Buthidae. 

Cyprian Checkered Scorpion  -  (Aegaeobuthus cyprius)
Aegaeobuthus cyprius was recently reclassified in 2019 from Mesobuthus cyprius, which was formerly known as M. gibbosus anatolicus. It prefers arid / semi-arid habitats, with little or no vegetation, and is usually found hiding under rocks and other objects during the daytime. Female specimens usually reach 45mm to 60mm in total length, and the males reach 45-55mm. Little is known about the toxicity of this scorpion but reports from bite victims indicate only local effects accompanied by severe pain. This species is regularly found around human habitation and from 2013 to 2021 there were 40-50 records of this species, collected by Jan Ove Rein, being found in gardens, houses and swimming pools etc. Aegaeobuthus cyprius has been found at high altitudes, up to 1900m, in the Troodos Mountains, as well as being found down low at sea level.

Buthus kunti
Buthus kunti is a medium sized scorpion reaching a maximum total length of 73mm. It's similar in appearance to the island's other endemic scorpion species, Aegaeobuthus cyprius. Unlike Aegaeobuthus cyprius, Buthus kunti is considered rare, and has so far only been found in the northern half of Cyprus, at low altitudes. This species may have a preference for sandy soil.

There is another endemic species of arachnid found only in Cyprus, the Cyprus Sun Spider / Cyprus Camel Spider, Gylippus cyprioticus.  -  LINK