Spiders are found on every continent across the globe except Antarctica. With over 47,000 described species, spiders display incredible diversity in their appearances, behaviors, and habitats. Here is an overview of spider biodiversity and distribution around the world.
Spiders in North America
Over 3,400 spider species belonging to 38 families have been documented in North America. Some of the most common spiders found across the United States and Canada include:
- Orb weavers – Spiders like the black and yellow garden spider worldwide that spin intricate, circular webs to catch prey.
- Jumping spiders – Small, hairy spiders with excellent eyesight that actively hunt rather than build webs.
- Wolf spiders – Ground-dwelling spiders that chase down prey.
- Fishing spiders – Spiders found near water that catch aquatic insects and small fish.
- Crab spiders – Spiders that can camouflage themselves and ambush prey.
- Tarantulas – Large, hairy mygalomorph spiders including the Texas brown tarantula in the southern US.
The diversity of habitats across North America from deserts to forests allows many types of spiders to thrive. The southern US harbors more tropical species like the Golden silk orb-weaver, while northern spiders have adaptations to handle colder climates.
Spiders in South America
South America stands out as a spider biodiversity hotspot with over 2,900 documented species. The dense rainforests provide ideal conditions for many unique spiders, including:
- Parawixia bistriata – A colorful araneid orb weaver spider drapes its web among trees and brush.
- Phoneutria spiders – Also known as Brazilian wandering spiders, these nocturnal hunter spiders have potent venom.
- Anelosimus eximius – A social spider that lives cooperatively in large colonies.
- Thwaitesia spiders – Diurnal hunting spiders that forage freely instead of building webs.
- Pelinobius muticus – A tarantula species that lives in termite mounds.
In the mountainous regions of South America, jumping spiders, crab spiders, and other agile hunters thrive at high elevations. Meanwhile trapdoor and funnel-web spiders bury themselves in the earth and vegetation of the lowland rainforests.
Spiders in Europe
Europe’s temperate climates support around 1,800 known spider species. Some signature European spiders include:
- Giant house spider – A very common large brown spider that lives in homes and sheds.
- Zebra spider – Distinctively colored black and white jumping spiders.
- Wasp spider – Spider that mimics wasp appearance and behavior.
- Redback spider – Venomous cobweb spider similar to black widows.
- Raft spider – Spiders well-adapted to living in marshy wetlands.
While most European spiders have more modest sizes, they employ clever strategies like building funnel-shaped webs and camouflaging themselves for survival across the changing seasons.
Spiders in Africa
Africa harbors over 2,100 identified spider species like:
- Nephila spiders – Huge golden orb weavers widespread across the continent.
- Latrodectus renivulvatus – An African widow spider with potent neurotoxic venom.
- Hersilia savignyi – A “ladybird spider” that resembles a beetle.
- Palystes spiders – Heavy-bodied hunting spiders.
- Anansi spiders – Master weavers that play key roles in African folktales.
The warm tropical climates allow year-round hunting and web-building opportunities for spiders. Meanwhile in Africa’s arid deserts, hardy spiders can survive for months without rain.
Spiders in Asia
Asia contains an estimated 2,500 spider species adapted to all types of habitats. Notable species include:
- Nephila pilipes – The giant golden orb weaver found across Japan and East Asia.
- Poecilotheria metallica – An ornamental tarantula from southern India.
- Himalayas jumping spider – Found at high elevations of over 13,000 feet.
- Ctenidae spiders – Medium-sized wandering spiders abundant in Southeast Asia.
- Argyrodinae – A subfamily of comb-footed spiders widespread through Asia.
Jumping spiders and orb weavers thrive in Asia’s tropical environments, while many spiders inhabit caves, forests, and intertidal zones. Several Asian tarantulas are beginning to gain popularity in the exotic pet trade as well.
Spiders in Australasia
Australia and nearby islands host over 2,900 recorded spider species adapted to the environment’s unique flora and fauna. Some Australian spider highlights include:
- Sydney funnel-web spider – An aggressive funnel-web spider native to eastern Australia.
- Huntsman spider – Large, hairy spiders that actively hunt at night.
- Redback spider – Widespread venomous spider similar to black widows.
- Mouse spiders – Ground-dwelling spiders that frequently enter homes.
- Orchard spider – Common long-legged spiders hanging upside down in their webs.
From dense forests to the arid Outback, spiders occupy every habitat on the land down under. Some unique species even live underwater, catching prey in air bubbles.