Puerto Rico is a popular tourist destination, and you may be thinking of heading to this island paradise soon. If you do, expect fantastic white sand beaches, lush forests and gorgeous mountains. It’s sure to be an amazing experience that will let you relax and enjoy some well-deserved time off.
However while Puerto Rico is part of the United States, it is not physically connected, and so the wildlife can be very different from what you’re used to finding back at home or in other parts of the US. Spiders in Puerto Rico are often a concern for people traveling here, so it makes sense if you want to know what spiders to expect when visiting.
There are six main types of spider in Puerto Rico. Two are relatively common and harmless, the Banana Spider and Tent Cobweb Weaver; one is dangerous to humans, the Brown Recluse; and three are huge, the Puerto Rican Brown Tarantula, the Cave Spider, and the Huntsman. There’s some limited reports that the dangerous Black Widow Spider is in Puerto Rico, however it’s not currently established on the island.
We explain all the types of spiders in Puerto Rico right here, show where they’re found, what happens if you’re bitten, and what they look like. Read on to know everything about spiders in Puerto Rico so you can be prepared for your vacation.
What common spiders live in Puerto Rico?
Puerto Rico has spiders year-round and is home to five main types of spiders, but fall is when you will see the most roaming around the island.
The months of August and September in particular is when you will see the most, and generally many young spiders. As the year draws on, many will be eaten or die from other issues until the process starts the following spring again.
Two common, but harmless, spiders you’ll find in Puerto Rico are:
There’s a myth that banana spiders lay eggs in bananas and cause issues when you eat them or that you’ll find banana spiders in shipments of bananas. They actually get their name because the females have bright yellow bands on their legs. These spiders are also called golden silk spiders or golden orb weavers.
As is often the case with spiders, the males and females look quite different. The female, as mentioned, has bright yellow bands around her legs and is relatively large, measuring around 2 – 4 cm long. The males are dark brown with light brown legs and are much smaller than the females at just over half a centimeter.
Banana spiders can bite you, but they don’t have enough venom to cause issues, and the bite is about the same sort of pain as a bee sting. The area bitten may become red and a little swollen, but you’ll be fine. Unless you’re unlucky enough to have a rare allergic reaction.
These spiders will not attack you unless you disturb them or try to handle them in some way. So if you stay away from them, they will stay away from you, and there will be no biting.
You’ll find these spiders throughout Puerto Rico. They will be easy to spot from their giant webs, which can be 3 to 7 feet wide!
Tent Cobweb Weavers
Tent cobweb weavers are a tan to orange color, with dark brown bands around their legs. Their name comes from the fact they spin irregular webs between all kinds of objects, whether that’s something in your garden, pot plants, or anything else they can find, and the top of the web will peak like a tent.
You’ll find these spiders in gardens around houses or buildings or on cliffs. They’ll tend to live in colonies, so when you find one, you will often find many. Usually, this is a mother with her offspring creating webs around the perimeter of the mother’s web.
Females are around 1 cm long, with the males being half the size. They pose no danger from venom or bites to humans.
Are there venomous spiders in Puerto Rico?
There is only one venomous spider in Puerto Rico which can cause you concern, at least as far as venom goes. And that’s the Brown Recluse.
While their have been some reports that black widow spiders could be present in Puerto Rico, this spider is yet to be established in the island. So you may only see it in shipments being sent from other countries. Be wary of imported fruit.
The brown recluse is common throughout the world and has established itself in Puerto Rico. It’s the only spider in Puerto Rico that has enough venom to cause you any kind of significant issue. However, the bite will not cause death for most healthy adults, but it’s bite can be deadly if you have underlying problems. In fact the brown recluse spider is probably the most dangerous animal/insect in Puerto Rico, alongside the Puerto Rican Racer snake. (Recommended: Snakes in Puerto Rico).
At a minimum, if bitten you could have red and swollen skin around the bite, with some mild pain. Unfortunately, the bite can then worsen and turn into an open sore as the venom causes necrosis on your skin. These ulcers can also worsen and become larger, with significant damage to the area if left untreated.
Brown recluses are often tricky to spot. They’re small at around 1.25cm, timid, and don’t want to interact with humans. However, if you’re close enough to see one, it will have a violin-shaped design on its abdomen.
You’ll often find these spiders in warm, dry, and hot areas. So this could be tree stumps, garden sheds, or anything of a similar nature. They’re not common spiders in Puerto Rico, so your chances of getting bitten are very low.
If you suspect you have been bitten by one, then see a doctor immediately.
Although the black widow is not native to Puerto Rico, and the chances of coming across it are very slim, due to its deadly nature we decided to give you the information about them just in case.
You can recognize this dangerous spider by the red hourglass shape on the underside of its abdomen which contrasts against it’s shiny black body. The body can range from 3 mm to 10 mm.
Black widow spiders will make their homes in cool, dry, and dark places. These nests could be found under steps, rocks, gardens, and anywhere in the countryside. So be careful when you’re putting your hand into a dark space in any rural setting, because you could find a spider hiding there.
However that said, these spiders are not native to Puerto Rico and have only really been found in imports brought into the country.
Luckily for most healthy adults, you don’t risk death by being bitten. Still, you may be in for pain, spasms, abdominal cramps, sweating, rapid heart rate, and various other issues. But if you think you have been bitten by this spider you should make your way to an emergency room straight away.
Are there any gigantic spiders in Puerto Rico?
There are three spiders on the larger side in Puerto Rico. Luckily they are harmless but could give you a fright due to their size.
The Huntsman Spider is sometimes called the Giant Crab Spider, and although large, it is harmless.
Their leg span can be anywhere from five to twelve inches! Their large size and slightly hairy bodies are the primary reason why they’re confused with tarantulas.
These spiders like to live in woody places like forests, wooden shacks, and woodpiles. They often live under rocks and bark and in sheds and garages. Although their bites can be painful to humans, they are not deadly. They are more likely to run away than to bite a human.
Puerto Rican Brown Tarantulas
The Puerto Rican brown tarantula is large but is considered a medium-sized tarantula, but it’s body ranges from 3 to 5 inches long. They’re dark brown with hair covering their bodies, and on the underside of their body are barbs that they can launch at prey or as a defense. If they happen to launch them at you, you could have some irritation but no long-term effects.
This tarantula is nocturnal, so you won’t see it roaming around during the day except when the males go out during the day to find a mate, which happens around September to November. You’ll mostly find them in forested areas in burrows that they’ve dug in the ground.
Cave spiders, also known as tailless whip scorpions, are as the name suggests, found mostly in caves. So if your trip to Puerto Rico will involve any cave exploring, you may see some, though they’re nocturnal, so unless you’re sleeping in a cave at night, you shouldn’t see them running around.
They look like a cross between a spider, scorpion, and a crab and can even shuffle sideways like a crab. They use their legs to spike and immobilize their prey.
These spiders can range from 5 to 70 cm, so are incredibly large and will absolutely scare you if you’re not expecting them! However, they are harmless to humans and not interested in attacking you at all.
Will you find spiders in the tourist hotspots of Puerto Rico?
In most cases, you won’t find spiders, especially the larger spiders in tourist spots around Puerto Rico. It would be incredibly rare to find any large or dangerous spiders in hotels, resorts or on beaches.
If you venture further into Puerto Rico, such as forests or any caves that you find, you may see some of the big spiders in Puerto Rico, but even then, most are nocturnal, so even that is a little unlikely.
As with any spiders, if you put your hands into places that you can’t see, then you may find a spider, and it may bite you. However, unless you’re unlucky enough to find a brown recluse, then you’re almost certainly going to be fine.
How do you treat a spider bite?
Because the brown recluse is the only spider that can cause significant issues for you, it’s unlikely you’ll need to treat a spider bite – unless you have an allergic reaction to the bite of other spiders in Puerto Rico.
However, if you believe you’ve been bitten by a brown recluse then you must proceed to an emergency room or doctor as quickly as possible.
Symptoms of a spider bite
- Redness, pain, and swelling around the bitten area.
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Tremors and sweating.
- Increased pain over the first 8 hours. This is a major concern if pain increases.
- Fever, chills, and body aches.
- A small red mark where you think you were bitten that starts to get bigger.
Treatment for a spider bite
- Wash the area with soap and water.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment. Polysporin is a good choice.
- Apply a cold compress to the area, if there is swelling
- Elevate any limbs that were bitten.
- Take an OTC pain medication such as Advil or Tylenol if you have pain.
- Take an OTC antihistamine if you have itching or swelling in the area. Such as Claritan.
- If any symptoms start to get worse, then immediately see a doctor.
Our Final Thoughts
Puerto Rico is incredibly safe when it comes to spiders. The brown recluse is the only spider that can cause life-threatening issues. However, other spiders can still bite you, which isn’t pleasant of course.
You won’t generally find any large or dangerous spiders in your hotel or surrounding areas. However, it’s always prudent to shake your clothes and check your shoes before putting them on. This is just good spider advice if you have a significant fear.
Two other pieces of advice: Know where you’re putting your hands so you don’t accidentally disturb a spider; and don’t kill any spiders just because they scare you. If you don’t disturb or interfere with them, they will leave you alone.