Spiders are largely under-recorded in Cyprus and as of 2019 there were around 450 known species, with many more species waiting to be discovered. At least 19 of these known species are considered as endemic to Cyrus and are found nowhere else.  LINK

There are three species in Cyprus with a bite of medical concern to humans. Two from the Latrodectus genus of Black Widow spiders, the Dahl's Widow, Latrodectus Dahli, and the Mediterranean Black widow, Latrodectus tredecimguttatus. There is also the Brown Widow, Latrodectus geometricus, but bites from this species usually poses no risk to humans. The third 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.

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.

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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, 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. 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 is said to be highly irritant. 

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

Female Pantropical Jumping Spider   (Plexippus paykulli)

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

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

Macaroeris spJumping 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. 

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. 

Female False Widow Spider   (Steatoda paykulliana)

This female specimen has an unusually shrivelled abdomen due to having just produced and egg-sac, 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.

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Female False Widow Spider (Steatoda paykullianafound under a large rock by Paphos Beach on 15th May 2019.

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

European Tarantula  (Chaetopelma olivaceum / previously also known as Chaetopelma gracile)
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. In Cyprus there are two native species of Tarantula found on the island, Chaetopelma olivaceum and Chaetopelma karlamani (the Cyprus Tarantula).

Male Chaetopelma olivaceum usually grow to a body-length of 25mm, but sometimes reach 35mm. 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.

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 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 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.

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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.

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, extremely fast and likely to escape given any opportunity. I have certainly found them to be 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.

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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

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
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

Banded Garden Spider  -  Argiope trifasciata

25mm female Stone Huntsman Spider  (Eusparassus walckenaeri)
Stone Huntsman Spider  (Eusparassus walckenaeri)
A large spider usually found under stones in dry areas. Females 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.

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 highly necrotic venom. In 90% of cases bites to humans require little more than basic first aid: 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 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.

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 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.

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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

female Nursery Web Spider  (Pisaura mirabilis)

Nursery Web Spider  (Pisaura mirabilis)

Nursery Web Spiders are a group of spiders belonging to the family Pisauridae. However this term is usually used to describe the European species Pisaura mirabilisMales 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 be seen carrying their egg-sac. 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.

Spiders of Europe - Individual country checklists