Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States, is home to various creepy crawlers, including five main types of spiders. The island's hot and humid conditions make the area an ideal habitat for certain arachnid species. Spiders help the land they live upon by feeding on smaller insects, which protects Puerto Rico's fruit trees and crops.
Common Puerto Rican Brown Tarantulas
Native to the island, the common Puerto Rican brown tarantulas are medium-sized terrestrial spiders that typically lives in holes they dig themselves. The tarantula is about 5 inches long with a dark brown body that's covered by shiny hairs called setae. The spiders are nearly blind, but their sensitive hairs allow them to sense the activity of prey and find their location. Common Puerto Rican brown tarantulas commonly prey on insects and small animals like frogs.
Banana spiders are large, brightly colored arachnids found extensively through Puerto Rico. The spiders are sometimes called golden silk spiders because of the shiny yellow webs they spin. Banana spiders thrive in the high humidity and relatively open spaces of places such as Puerto Rico. The arachnids generally live in forest-like areas and along trails. Adult males usually begin appearing in mid-summer, while females come out in the late summer to early autumn.
Cave spiders -- also called tailless whip scorpions, or "guaba" in Spanish -- are an intimidating arachnid species native to Puerto Rico. Cave spiders' bodies are flat with long, whip-like legs. They use their powerful pincher-bearing front legs to catch their prey, usually small animals, frogs and crustaceans. The spiders are among the largest arachnid species, growing between 19 and 25 inches long, including their legs. They typically live in caves or under large rocks and inside crevices. They rarely encounter humans because of their nocturnal nature.
The brown recluse, one of the most dangerous spiders in the U.S., is commonly found in the southcentral and southwestern United States and Puerto Rico. Although their bites can be life-threatening, brown recluses are generally timid and retreat from people if possible. Unlike other arachnids, the spiders hunt small insects a fair distance from their webs. Brown recluse spiders are characterized by their long legs and light tan to dark brown oval-shaped abdomen. On their back is a distinctive violin-shaped mark.
Tent Cobweb Weavers
Formally called the Tidarren sisyphoides, this arachnid is typically found in Peru, Cuba, Haiti and Puerto Rico. The spider can also be found in states such as California and Kentucky. Tidarren sisyphoides spiders are tan to orange in color, with thin legs that appear to have dark bands around them. People find the spiders inside gardens, on walls or along cliff faces. Their webs are generally spun into irregular shapes with objects such as plant debris inside.
- United States Department of Agriculture: Common Puerto Rican Brown Tarantula
- Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Beneficials in the Garden
- United States Department of Agriculture: Tailless Whip Scorpion
- University of Florida: IPM for Spiders in Schools
- New Mexico State University: The Spiders of the Arid Southwest
- San Diego Natural History Museum: Tidarren sisyphoides
Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images
Alicia Gallegos is a journalist in northwestern Indiana. She previously wrote for the "American Medical News, "a Chicago-based health newspaper published by the American Medical Association. She began her career at the South Bend Tribune, where she covered public safety, courts, food safety, education and health care.