According to the Chinese Spider Database, there are 3,416 species of spiders in China today. Of these, only a few have been discovered to be venomous to humans. Most are found in the northernmost and southernmost regions of China, where climates are tropical.
Chinese Bird Spider
The Chinese bird spider (Haplopelma schmidti) is a type of tarantula found in southern China and Vietnam and is considered extremely aggressive and highly venomous. According to Liang Song Ping, professor of biology at Hunan Normal University, the Chinese bird spider is one of the most venomous spiders in China. The venom of the Chinese bird spider is a neurotoxin that causes severe nerve damage, rendering the victim incapable of moving, and sometimes causing death if not treated. This spider’s leg span is approximately eight inches, making it relatively large compared to other spiders in China. It captures its food by hiding and emerging from earthen burrows that can be up to several feet deep. Despite its name, the Chinese bird spider mostly dines on small rodents and insects.
Golden Earth Tiger
The golden earth tiger (Haplopelma huwenum) is closely related to the Chinese bird spider, but is found only in the southernmost regions, in Guangxi Province. The spider gets its name from the golden color of its abdomen. Although the golden earth tiger is not known to have caused any deaths among humans, its venom has been documented to cause swelling, joint stiffness and severe pain in the bite area. The golden earth tiger, like its cousin, builds burrows to catch its food, but has also been known to live in trees.
Chinese Wolf Spider
The Chinese wolf spider (Lycosa singoriensis) is a burrowing nocturnal ground dweller and is distributed widely throughout northwestern China, often in rice fields. The wolf spider is said to have the ability to run very fast, and unlike wolf spiders found in the United States, has a venom that can destroy red blood cells, inducing hemorrhaging in humans. Bites from the Chinese wolf spider can also cause severe infections and often times prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell damage, which in turn may cause slow healing and possibly skin deformities.
- Endemic spiders in China; Li, S. Q. & X. P. Wang; 2010
- Neurotoxin Institute
- Animal Corner: Old World Tarantula spiders
- Lad-Lab: Lycosa singoriensis venom (Wolf spider)
- CABI: An overview of peptide toxins from the venom of the Chinese bird spider
About the Author
Christa Kerley has a B.A. in anthropology with emphasis in archaeology. She also has certificates in geographic information systems and cultural resource management. Kerley was author and distributor of a nonfiction newsletter for several years, and has worked since 1997 as a freelance copywriter and research writer. Some of Kerley's published works can be viewed at eHow, Bukisa, Suddenlyslim.net, Answerbag, and Pluck on Demand.
spiders den image by JASON WINTER from Fotolia.com