Araneae, Spiders of North-West Europe

Nederlandse versie

This site contains more than 700 pictures of over 220 spiders commonly found in NW-Europe, especially the area between the Netherlands and the south of France.
There is a thumbnail page and a Spider location chart for a quick overview of all the spiders posted on these pages. Of all photographed spiders, there is a short description about their habitat, size and other interesting facts. Apart from the European spiders I have also posted more than 200 pictures of Australian spiders.

Most people think that spiders are dangerous creatures that should be wiped away with a cloth, sucked up in the vacuum cleaner or smashed with a newspaper. That is not wise because spiders play a very important role in our Eco-system. They catch many annoying and harmful insects and are therefore very useful creatures. As you will see on these pages, many of the spiders are beautifully colored, and therefore very pleasant and wonderful to look at. Since most spiders are very small, you need a magnifying glass or a camera to study them or to reveal their beauty.

I receive many questions about poisonous/venomous spiders. Most spiders use venom to kill their prey. This venom is almost always harmless to humans. However, there are a few exceptions. In Europe there is one known spider, called the black widow, whose bite can be lethal to young children and elderly people. she lives in the southern parts of Europe.

Argiope bruennichi,wasp or tiger spider, wespenspin of wespspin
Argiope bruennichi or wasp spider is moving up north and is spotted in The Netherlands.

Also the bite of a water spider can be harmful and should be avoided. There are some spiders dangerous in other continents, like the brown recluse. If there are venomous spiders in your neighborhood, you will probably know by word of mouth. If you have never heard of dangerous spiders from the people in your neighborhood it is not very likely the spiders around your house are venomous to you or your pets. Information about dangerous spiders can be found on several Internet sites. (See the links below).

Which spiders can we find inside the house?

Daddy longleg. House spider with daddy-longleg House spider Glue spitter Garden spider

The house spider (Agelenidae) is a famous "scary" spider. In autumn the males are often spotted searching for a female. He runs on his long legs through our house, especially if we are watching television. Leave him alone and after a few minutes he is gone or eaten by the cat.
The garden spider (Araneidae) is also often seen in her wheel web. To see the glue spitter (Scytodidae) you have to look better.
The daddy longleg (Pholcidae) is the greatest killer inside your house. In winter she almost kills all surviving insects and they even kill their own kin.

Argiope aurantia by Andrew GreifThe spider often seen in the US is the Argiope aurantia (Family Araneidae). Pictures of Argiopes from different continents can be seen on the following pages: Europe, USA and Australia.

In a study, the Panamese wheel spider was observed for a year. It consumed an average of 1.63 insects (= 0.089 g) a day. A study in Great Britain estimated an average of 130.8 spiders living in a meadow per square meter. If we extrapolate this to Holland with 15 million habitants on 36150 square kilometers (4.4 human beings per hectare), we can make the next calculation: spiders living on one hectare consume 116.4 kg of animal material every day. In other words, spiders eat the weight of all humans living in Holland in three days!

Many people confuse spiders with insects. Both belong to the phylum Arthropoda in the animal kingdom, which consists of animals with segmented bodies and jointed appendages. The phylum Arthropoda is divided into 5 classes. Animals with 4 pairs of legs such as spiders belong to the class called Arachnida and animals with 3 pairs of legs such as insects belong to the class called Insecta. Scorpions, pseudoscorpions, mites, harvestmen and ticks (which can cause Lyme disease), also have 4 pairs of legs, and therefore also belong to the Arachnida. Within the class Arachnida the spiders belong to the order called Araneae.

Arthropoda Class Arachnida
[down<--]Arthropoda [up-->]Araneae [up-->]Acari [up-->]Scorpionida Part of the tree of life site

Opiliones/Mitopus morio


velvet mite

Opiliones, harvestmen, Mitopus morio

Acari, Tick, Ixodes ricinus
before and after feeding

Acari, Velvet mite. Neotrombicula sp.

Euscorpius italicus

Neobisium sp.

Camel or sun spider

Scorpionida, Euscorpius italicus

Pseudoscorpiones, Neobisium sp.

Camel or sun spider, Solifugae ( ©S.A. Stockwell)

Inter site links

Common spider information

Australian spider site
Back to my home page
Thumbnail pictures for a quick overview
Glossary of terms
Perfect camping site in France
High resolution detail of the fangs of a spider
Spider location chart, find your spider by behaviour

Spider information
Spinneninformatie (Dutch)
Pri araneoj en Esperanto
The anatomy of a spider
The spinnerets and the properties of silk
The construction of a wheel web
American Argiopes
List of spider families, genera and species from NW-Europe by name
All kind of mails

Pictures and information by family

Order Araneae - Spiders

 Sub-order - Orthognatha (Mygalomorphae, primitive spiders)

Atypidae, Purse-web spiders

 Sub-order Labidognatha (Aranaeomorphae, modern spiders)
Cribellatae (These spiders have a cribellum and a calamistrum)
Amaurobidae, funnel weavers
Eresidae, lady bird spiders
Uloboridae, Cribellate orb spiders
Dictynidae, Small cribellate spiders
Oecobiidae, disc web spiders


Haplogynae (six eyed spiders)

Dysderidae, Cell spiders
Scytodidae, Spitting spiders
Oonopidae, Dwarfcel spiders
Segestriidae, Six-eyed spiders

 Entelegynae (eight eyed spiders)

Agelenidae, Funnel weavers, house spider
Argyronetidae, Water spiders
Clubionidae, Sac spiders
Erigonidae, Dwarf spiders
Hahniidae, Dwarf funnel spiders
Lycosidae, Wolf spiders
Mimetidae, Pirate spiders
Philodromidae, Crab spiders
Pisauridae, Big wolf or nursery web spiders
Tetragnathidae, Stretch spiders
Theridiosomatidae, ray spiders
Anyphaenidae, Sac spiders
Araneidae (Argiopidae), Orb web spiders
Gnaphosidae, Ground spiders
Heteropodidae, Hunt crab spiders
Linyphiidae, Sheetweb spiders
Metidae, Orb stretch spiders
Oxyopidae, Lynx spiders
Pholcidae, Daddy longleg spiders
Salticidae, Jumping spiders
Theridiidae, Nesticidae, Scaffold web spiders
Thomisidae, Crab spiders
Zoridae (Ctenidae), Wandering spiders

Order Opiliones - Harvestmen

Trodulidae & Nemastomatidae & Phalangiidae 

More informational links (<-- click link)

European spiders
Arachnology home page
Central European Spiders
Spiders of Britain & Europe, Nick Loven

Groupe d'etude des Arachnides, Lionel Dabat
Aranea Norvegiae
Arachnids, arthropods, reptiles of Europe
Arachnoligische gesellschaft e.V.
Aracnis, European spiders & their kin
Belgian spider site from Gie Wyckmans
French jumping spiders from Yvan Montardi
British Arachnological Society
Russian spiders

Australian spiders
Australian spider and insect bites
The Australian spider page from Glenda Crew
Robert Raven's Soapbox

Brisbane Spiders by Peter Chew
The Find-a-spider Guide

Brown recluse
Brown recluse, univ of California
Spider Envenomations, Brown Recluse
Brown Recluse Spider, Ohio state univ
Identifying the brown recluse spider
Recluse spiders, Hobo spider web site
Black Widow, Red back
Info about Red back, Brown recluse etc
Red back, queensland museum
Red back, Australian museum
Black widow spiders, Desert USA
Black widows, Arachnology home page

Black Widow Spider, Univ of Michigan
Latrodectus species (German)

Hobo spider
Hobo spider web site

Camel spiders or Solifugids
Webs of life
Arachnophilia, The wonderful world of spiders
Jumping spiders Diagnostic Drawings Library
Jumping spiders of Mexico
Webs of Life
Salticidae of the world by Jerzy Proszynski
Spider control
How Spiders Work
Spider links
NHBS BookNet Subject Locater spiders
Spinnen in terraria
Insects and spiders in Japan
The world spider catalog, Platnick
the SPIDER webring
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  1. W. van Katwijk, Spinnen van Nederland,1976, Balkema - Rotterdam - The Netherlands, ISBN 90 6191 1028
  2. D. Jones, Spinnen, 1983, Thieme - Baarn - The Netherlands, ISBN 90 5210 121 3
  3. H. Pfletsinger, Spinnen, Thieme - Zutphen - The Netherlands, ISBN 9009 95020 2
  4. F. Sauer, J. Wunderlich, Die schönsten Spinnen Europas, 1991, Eichenweg 8, 8047 Karlsfeld, Germany, ISBN 3 923010 03 6
  5. B. & M. Baehr, Welche Spinne ist das?, 1987, Kosmos naturführer, Stuttgart, Germany, ISBN 3 440 05798 4
  6. H. Bellman, Spinnen beobachten, bestimmen, 1992, Naturbuch verlag, Augsburg, Germany, ISBN 3 89440 064 1
  7. E. Kullmann, H. Stern, Leben am seidenen Faden, Die rätselvolle welt der spinnen, 1975, Verlagsgruppe Bertelsmann Verlag, Munchen, Germany, ISBN 90 222 0239 9
  8. M.J. Roberts, Spiders of Britain & northern Europe, 1995, Harper Collins Publishers, ISBN 000 219981 5
  9. R & K Preston-Mafham, Spiders of the world, 1984, Blandford, ISBN0 7137 2392 0
  10. Journals published by the Werkgroep Inheemse Spinnen (WIS), Bollenbergen 45, 9052 Zwijnaarde, Belgium
  11. H. Bellmann, Spinnentiere Europas, 1997, Kosmos, Stuttgart, Germany, ISBN 3-440-07025-5
  12. B. Simon - Brunett, The silken web, 1994, Reed books, Chatswood NSW, Australia, ISBN 0 7301 0401 X
  13. S. Heimer, Spinnen, 1997, Landbuch verlag, Hannover, Germany, ISBN 3 7842 0543 7
  14. W.J. Gertsch, American spiders, 1949, D. van Nostrand company, USA
  15. R. Mascord, Australian spiders, 1970, Reed, Artarmon, Australia, SBN 589 07065 7
  16. K.C. McKeown, Australian spiders, 1962, Sirius books, Australia
  17. R.F. Foelix, Biology of spiders, 1996, Oxford university press, ISBN 0-19-509594-4
  18. P. Hillyard, The book of the spider, 1994,Avon books,ISBN 9 780380 730759
  19. J.H. Emerton, The common spiders of the United States, 1961, Dover publications, New York, ISBN 9 780486 202235
  20. T.H. Savory, The spiders & allied orders of the British isles, 1935, Frederick Wayne & Co, London
  21. E. Simon, Les arachnides de France Tome 6 , 1914 - 1937, Paris.
  22. E. Simon, Histoire naturelle de araignees, 1864, Paris

Because of their big variety in color, shape and size, it is difficult to determine a spider from a picture. The only secure way is to catch the spider, kill it and have proper books on identification. With several books about spiders, I have tried to give them the right name. If you can correct, E-mail me.

Ed Nieuwenhuys, september 11, 2004

Copyright 1996-2004

For non-European readers: I am not very familiar with the spiders living outside Europe. Therefore I may not be a lot of help in identifying the spider you come across. Anyway, have a look at the pictures of the crab spiders and the orb web spiders. There is a 90% chance that the spider you found resembles either of these two.

E-mail: Click

My sincere thanks to Craig Slawson (Council member of the British Arachnological Society) who carefully read these Webpages in February 1997 and gave me some valuable suggestions.
I also would like to acknowledge Bryan Goethals for providing me with some translated excerpts from his publications in the journals of WIS (Werkgroep Inheemse Spinnen) as well as for several corrections suggested by him.
Also thanks to Annemarie van Nieuwenhuijze, Ronald Loggen, Vinay Koshte, Gie Wyckmans and Luc Vanhercke for all the other support to make these pages worthwhile.