Nosferatu in Switzerland: All you need to know about the venomous spider
Over the past few months, places across Switzerland have become the new home of the venomous “Nosferatu” spider. While the spider has certainly sparked the public and wider media's imagination, to allay some fears, here’s what Zoropsis Spinimana are and whether the new spider will have us clutching our necks anytime soon.
What is the Zoropsis Spinimana and should we be worried?
Since 1998, scientists have been tracking the spread of Zoropsis Spinimana in Switzerland, known in the German-speaking world as the Nosferatu spider (Nosferatu-Spinne). After first being identified in Switzerland around Canton Ticino, the spider has recently spread to a large number of Swiss cities and cantons.
Here’s what you need to know about the spider:
Where can the Nosferatu spider be found in Switzerland?
Today, the Nosferatu can be found practically everywhere in Switzerland. The majority of sightings in 2023 have been recorded in Geneva, Lausanne, Basel, Zurich and Lucerne, but this is likely due to human population density, not overall spider populations.
While widespread in Swiss cities, the Nosferatu is not found in the mountains as the spider is not a big fan of cold weather. Traditionally, the Nosferatu were only found in the Mediterranean region, but have since found new homes across Europe thanks to climate change.
What do Zoropsis Spinimana look like?
Zoropsis Spinimana can mainly be identified by their relatively large size, measuring up to six centimetres long. They are known as Nosferatu in German-speaking countries due to the black markings on their backs, which evoke the vampire from the 1922 German film.
Where do the spiders live?
Nosferatu spiders prefer to live in warm places, such as inside houses and enclosed gardens. They do not weave pesky webs and are courteous house guests in that they are discreet and spend most of their time eating flies and other house insects.
Are Nosferatu spiders dangerous for humans?
The big question that we're sure is on your mind is how dangerous the Nosferatu spider is, especially for humans. Despite being venomous, the spider only attacks when it feels threatened.
For humans, a Nosferatu bite is quite similar to getting stung by a wasp, so be sure to keep the bite area cool and clean so that it does not become infected and take care if you have been allergic to spider bites in the past. If it becomes infected or remains painful for a long period of time, it's best to see a doctor.
As with a wasp sting, it is best to keep your dogs and cats away from the spider - it will run from pets but can attack if cornered. While the bite is known to hurt our four-legged friends quite a bit, the only thing to do is to keep the area as clean as possible and to calm the animal down - although if their condition worsens, it’s best to seek help from a vet.
Does the Nosferatu spider suck blood?
Despite its name, the Nosferatu spider does not suck your blood and does not actually have the capacity to do so. In short, the Nosferatu is not very harmful to humans, and while certainly new to the Swiss ecosystem, the venomous creature will likely take its place among the 1.000 other species of spider that call the alpine nation home.