Visitors who are new to Germany are often curious to know what kinds of spiders to watch out for. Contrary to North America, where a small number of extremely venomous spiders exist, such as the black widow and the brown recluse, spiders in Germany are not as dangerous.
All spiders are more or less venomous to other animals. This is how they disable their prey. The crucial points for humans are whether the venom could have an adverse effect on the body and if the spider is able to penetrate the skin using its “jaws” to inject venom.
There is no need to be frightened at the sight of a spider in Germany. Yet, there are a few species of which we all should be aware – and even those usually are only a threat to the very young, the elderly and people suffering from allergies.
One spider in Germany able to deliver painful bites to humans is the yellow sac spider. A bite is followed by localized swelling, but not usually worse than a wasp sting. This species prefers a warm, dry environment and lives in open landscapes covered with tall grasses and shrubs. During the day, the yellow sac spider rests inside a film of cobwebs, which can reach the size of a hen’s egg. An easy way to protect oneself against spider bites is to wear closed shoes and long pants when crossing a fallow grassland. Before draping a picnic blanket, the area should be searched for spiderwebs.
Another spider to keep an eye on is the diving bell spider, also known as the water spider. It lives almost entirely under water in clean lakes and slow-flowing streams. These spiders have become extremely rare as a result of aquatic pollution.
One more slightly poisonous species is the garden cross spider, which is native to Germany. In recent years, the Mediterranean black widow and small cribellate spiders from the family known as meshweavers have been seen in Germany. Bites are still very unlikely, and deadly spider bites have, to date, never been recorded in Germany.