Argentina is well-known for its dangerous animals, and there is no denying the spiders of Argentina are some of the most nightmarish in the world. Some of these species are immortalized through folklore, while others are feared due to their venom and fierce hunting skills. A selection of Argentina’s poisonous spiders is some of the most dangerous animals in South America.
The diverse landscapes that cover this enormous country provide hidden away habitats, perfect for spiders to go relatively unnoticed. From soaring glacier peaks to wave-crashing shorelines, some of these corners are so darn inhospitable that they can only host some of the world’s hardiest creatures. So what about the arachnids in Argentina?
There are hundreds of spider species in Argentina. So whether you are hiking the Patagonian Andes or have dusted off your dancing shoes in Buenos Aires, you could encounter spiders along the way. In this guide, we discuss some of the spiders in Argentina you may encounter during your travels.
Brazilian Wandering Spider
Latin name: Phoneutria nigriventor
Brazilian Wandering Spiders are also commonly known as banana spiders, referring to where they are most commonly found amongst some of Argentina’s food exports. This is one of the largest species of spiders in Argentina. Often, these spiders have a leg span of over 15cm with a 5cm body.
This species has a powerful neurotoxin that is injected via a bite. It is highly likely victims will feel extreme intense pain around the wound site along with some other side effects. These could include:
- inflamation as the toxin flushes through the body
- loss of muscle control and paralysis
- difficulty breathing
- uncontrollable and very painful erection (in male victims)
- possible death
The Latin name derives from the Greek word for “murderess” which is another apt name for these spiders. Brazilian Wandering Spiders are generally aggressive and have developed sharp hunting skills. At dusk, these spiders stalk prey by walking through the forests and jungles. While in daylight hours, it seeks shelter under rocks and logs, in shoes, garages, and even drawers.
Latin name: Clubionidae
Sac spiders are also called ghost spiders in Argentina. While they are venomous, most species of sac spiders do not kill humans. However, what the venom does is pretty much melt the skin and can lead to some even more wild complications.
Most of the bites from sac spiders go unnoticed or are considered as nothing more than a small itch. Therefore, if the bite is not treated correctly, the venom really gets to work, much like bites from dangerous snakes.
Some bites report gaping wounds of up to 10cm in diameter where the toxin spread, destroying tissue. If left untreated, the venom can lead to massive internal infections and the spreading of wounds that take a considerable time to heal.
Black Widow Spider
Latin name: Latrodectus corallinus
The black widow spider can be found across many continents and is often considered one of the most venomous spiders in the world. South America is home to many of the widow subspecies with 6 variants found in Argentina alone.
But don’t worry, you can still enjoy a relaxing time across Buenos Aires and Santa Fe. Despite the fear of the notorious black widow venom, though highly toxic, is rarely fatal. Common side effects of a black widow bite are:
- localized pain and swelling;
- nausea and vomiting;
- and, muscle pain.
Luckily, the most common black widow species in Argentina, the latrodectus corallinus, is not aggressive and easily identifiable. This variety has a shiny black body and a distinctive thorax with blood-red markings arranged in a camo-dot pattern. They are most active in Argentina between September and March. They are typically found in agricultural environments in the drier central and northern Argentina regions.
Brown Widow Spider
Latin name: Latrodectus geometricus
Brown widow spiders are often mistaken for the common house spider. The most obvious distinguishing feature is a red or orange hourglass marking on the underside of the abdomen. Obviously, you don’t want to get that close to inspect the colorations!
This species of widow spider is not only found in Argentina, but also across many parts of South America, the Middle East, and areas of the USA. They are typically found outdoors and around manmade structures. Unlike other spider species, the brown widows often spin their webs in more exposed situations.
While the brown widows’ neurotoxin venom has the potential to be dangerous to humans, they are generally timid and non-aggressive. The venom is just as potent as other widow species, however, the brown widow spider bites often only result in localized pain and swelling.
Silver Garden Spider
Latin name: Argiope argentata
The silver garden spider is mostly seen on its web in outdoor environments across Argentina. As the name suggests, these spiders have a silvery tone to the body and they often have bright orange legs, making them one of the most striking spiders in Argentina.
These shiny eight-legged critters are venomous. However, they are not considered dangerous to people. If you do get bitten by a silver garden spider in Argentina, you are likely to only have temporary irritations on the skin.
As part of the orb-weaver spider family, silver garden spiders spin intricate and beautiful webs. They are also an integral part of the ecosystem
Southern House Spider
Latin name: Kukulcania hibernalis
Southern house spiders are another species that is often mistaken for the more dangerous brown recluse species. While these house spiders can bite if they are trapped, they do not cause any harm to humans. There have been odd rare reports of swelling and mild pain for a couple of days post-bite.
As the common name suggests, these spiders are often found in homes and other manmade structures. They are distributed across Argentina and other South American countries.
Both the males and female individuals have elongated bodies, eight eyes, and compact legs covered in fine hairs. They are generally charcoal grey with light patterns on the body. It is best to leave the southern house spider alone if encountered as they are fantastic at keeping bugs and insects at bay.
Latin name: Theraphosinae
Tarantulae is one of the world’s largest species of spiders. In recent years, Argentina yields three new tarantula species. These new species were found in northern Argentina, all of which have been named inspired by the region:
- Melloleitaoina mutquina – a poetic name inspired by the aroma of the flora of the region that emerges after rain
- Melloleitaoina uru – inspired by the Inca princess Uru, who because of her whims and bad government was transformed by the gods into a spider and forced to endlessly work weaving.
- Melloleitaoina yupanqui – named in honor of the most important Argentine musician of folklore Atahualpa Yupanqui, pseudonym of Héctor Roberto Chavero Aramburu.
Tarantulas primarily live in the tropical, subtropical, and desert regions of Argentina and other parts of South America. Despite their size and fearful appearance, these spiders do not pose much threat to humans. They rarely bite and will only attack if victims of threatening behavior from us.
Are there dangerous spiders in Argentina?
Argentina has hundreds of spider species across the diverse terrain, however, not all are dangerous with poison in their bites. There are at least six subspecies of the dangerous widow spider family in the country along with the fearsome Brazilian Wandering Spider.
The venom of these dangerous spiders can contain powerful neurotoxins, which can cause muscle spasms and cramps, and potentially death if treatment is not administered quickly. The good news is that spider bite fatalities are extremely rare in Argentina.
What to do if you are bitten by a spider in Argentina
Spider bites are often mistaken for other skin sores, stings, or bites from other insects, like mosquitoes. This can lead to a slow treatment and recovery in some cases. If possible, it’s good to identify the spider that gave you the bite.
Most spider bites heal by themselves within a week. However, bites from more venomous varieties may need help with antibiotics or antivenom. The main thing is to make sure the bite wound is thoroughly clean to avoid further infection.
First-aid treatment for spider bites includes the following steps:
- Clean the wound with a mild soap and water. Apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
- Apply a cool compress over the bite for 15 minutes each hour. This helps reduce pain and swelling.
- If possible, keep the affected area elevated.
- Use an over-the-counter pain reliever when needed.
- If the affected area is itchy, an antihistamine might help.
- Observe the bite for signs of worsening or infection. You may need antibiotics if the bite develops into an open wound or becomes infected.
Don’t let the spiders in Argentina put you off enjoying a trip to this beautiful country. Explore the birthplace of the tango and lap up the Latin American flavors. Just be cautious of what could lay in the shadows.