10 of the World’s Weirdest Spiders

By Blythe Copeland, TreeHugger

Hate spiders? You’re not alone: These leggy arachnids are some of the most feared creatures on Earth, despite their relatively tiny size. But even these creepy crawlies play a big part in nature’s order — often in weird and intriguing ways.

The 10 spiders highlighted here include species that change colors, walk on water, are patterned with eye-catching neon stripes, and have made a miraculous comeback from extinction.

Crab Spider

The one-of-a-kind crab spider gets its name from its ability to move sideways — like a crab — instead of just forward and back like other spiders.

They’re also famous for their color-change abilities, which allow them to camouflage themselves on brightly colored pink, yellow, or white flowers — though recent research shows that spiders who change their color aren’t necessarily more successful hunters than their more obvious counterparts.

Image: Michael Hodge / Creative Commons

Peacock Spider

You’d have to look closely to see the bright colors on the tiny jumping peacock spider — they’re only about 5 mm in size — but if you can get near enough, you’ll see colors unlike those usually found on members of the spider family.

Neon blue, yellow, orange, red, and green shades are all found on a cape-like flap that the males show off during mating rituals.

Image: jeans_Photos / Creative Commons

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Bagheera Kiplingi Spider

Spiders are known for their predatory instincts, which is what sets the tiny Bagheera kiplingi jumping spider apart from its fellow arachnids: This spider is a vegetarian.

In this video, the tiny Central American spider chows down on delicious leaves; these spiders, about the size of your smallest fingernail, have even been known to hide from ants. It’s considered the first known spider to survive on a meat-free diet — which as any treehugger can tell you, is a healthy, environmentally-friendly alternative to carnivorism.

Video: MSNBC

Sand Spider

Arachnaphobes may try to point out that the world already has more than enough spider species — but the newly discovered Cerbalus aravensis, a sand spider, is one more eight-legged creature to inspire nightmares.

This spider, found by a research team in the Sands of Samar — a desert dune in Israel — has a wide, five-inch leg-span that makes it the largest spider native to the Middle East.

Since the desert is also home to a major mining operation, however, the species is considered threatened as a result of pending habitat loss (despite biologists not knowing how many of these spiders exist).

Image: Mickey Samuni-Blank / Creative Commons

Rosser’s Sac Spider

The Rosser’s Sac spider is just one of the environment’s most recent comeback stories: Believed to be extinct from its native English wetlands for more than a decade, the arachnid was rediscovered in September 2010.

After spotting one of the Rosser’s Sacs, amateur spider-lover Ian Dawson found 10 more in the same small area, leading scientists to hope that the population may be able to survive after all — but as the wetlands continue to disappear, their fate remains in jeopardy.

Screenshot: BBC

Fen Raft Spider

Like dock spiders, the Fen Raft spider is adept at living on or near water: These arachnids, endangered in the one part of the U.K. where they live, hunt by sensing vibrations in the water with their front legs, and then chasing after small insects, dragonfly larvae, and other water-based spiders.

Though adults live just two years and females lay hundreds of eggs at one time, the destruction of their wetland habitat is believed to be a major part of the Fen Raft spiders population decline.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Goliath Bird-Eating Spider

We’ve highlighted the Goliath Bird-Eating spider before — but their massive size (some have a legspan as wide as 11 inches) also landed them on this list.

The Goliath is part of the tarantula family, which means it hunts with “stealth and strength” — but this big guy also comes equipped with tiny, irritating hairs that it flicks at enemies. They’re also one of the few spiders that makes noise: In this case, by brushing its hairy legs together to make a hiss.

Photo: Morkelsker/Creative Commons

Dock Spiders

TreeHugger Lloyd Alter grabbed this image of a massive dock spider that appears to be chowing down on a dead fish near his home in Canada. Though dock spiders — also known as fishing spiders — are part of the same genus as fen raft spiders, they’re much more common.

And despite the nerve-racking idea that one could take down a fish this size, they mostly survive on a diet of small insects; they’re also shy enough to run from people, but in the worst case, their bites are about as harmful as a bee sting.

Photo: Lloyd Alter

Kauai Cave Wolf Spider

The endangered Kauai Cave Wolf spider gets its name from its one lifelong habitat: the caves of Hawaii, where its born, lives, hunts, and dies.

The spiders are so accustomed to life in the pitch-black caves that they are no longer born with eyes; they feel out food using chemically-based senses. But since the spiders only live in the underground tunnels of Kauai, they are endangered as a result of habitat loss and pollution.

Image: US Fish & Wildlife Service / Creative Commons

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William Y.
William Y.3 years ago

@ Kathy P. Why are they hideous?

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

they are beautiful and hideous, they fill me with amazement and terror, and I find them creepy but also very awe inspiring

Mary L.
Mary L.3 years ago

I don't like chemicals in the house and spiders are an excellent way to keep unwanted creatures out. If spotted inside I thank them very much and ask them to hide out to do their jobs. My spouse won't kill but does try to capture and relocate to the outdoors not always with the best results.

I like having a couple of permanent pest control people on the job 24 X 7.

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley3 years ago

I don't like spiders, but that peacock spider is pretty.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

I don't like spiders, but I think they like me. Last summer working in my yard and garden, I had about 10 different types; 6 of which were on me. I'd brush them off and tell them to go away.

Jane R.
Jane R.3 years ago

I don't care for spiders. I won't bother them if they stay away from me!

Diarmuid H.
Diarmuid Hanley3 years ago

I love spiders, although I have been bitten twice by them and believe it or not in England, once on my dick, that really hurt for a good day!! But, I was brought up with a story that my Mum used to read to us called, "Charlotte's web". I cannot remember the author but it gave me a life long respect and love for spiders. In ancient Shamanism they are used in ceremonial meditation to heal many things, especially to do with the spinal cord and nervous system. They are also thought of as female energy as they hold the web of the universe together!
I was graced by the spider presence in a deep meditation I did which my brother underwent a difficult operation on three smashed vertebrae after a motorbike accident. I focused on the surgeon at the time of the op and the spider came. Later I discovered that the surgeon was amazed by how well it went ,"like a textbook operation!" he said. It was a very difficult and dangerous operation.
One could say it was imaginary of course, but to me it was very real and I was amazed by it's arrival, even though I have been involved in Shamanism for twenty years. They are amazing creatures, that we can and should learn alot from.

Deb L.
Deb L.3 years ago

They both fascinate & scare me at the same time. I never kill them though, I catch them in a jar or glass & throw them out! ...where they belong, and wish them luck in the free world.

Gabriella Bertelmann

Thank you for posting this, highly interesting - even though I am not fond of spiders at all, I understand that they are very important to our ecosystem - and that it's not about me, right?

Kim Crumpler
Kim Crumpler3 years ago

thanks for posting.