This Terrifying-Looking Horned Spider Is Actually Quite Harmless

Macracantha arcuata, aka the horned orb-weaver spider or the wishbone spider, have a pair of intimidating long horns growing out of their abdomen.

Although both male and female Macracantha arcuate spiders feature spines on their abdomens, it’s the females that stand out. They have three pairs of spines coming out of their abdomens, but it’s the middle one that immediately catches your attention, as the spectacular horns that project upward and then curve toward each other are roughly three times longer than the spider itself. The other two pairs of spines are short and relatively inconspicuous in comparison. If you’re afraid of spiders in general, a female Macracantha arcuata is a terrifying sight to behold, but you should know that the species is actually harmless to humans.

Photo: Rushen/Flickr

Native to the forests of China, India through Southeast Asia all the way to Borneo, Macracantha arcuata is the only species in the Macracantha genus.


Interestingly, the top surface of the shell-like female abdomen ranges from yellow to red or even white or black. Regardless of the color, they all feature the same pairs of horns.


The exact function of the unusually-long horns growing out of the abdomens of Macracantha arcuata females is unknown, but some entomologists believe they are meant to deter predation and make it hard for birds and lizards to swallow the spider.


Even knowing that the horned orb-weaver spider is harmless, the mere thought of seeing one up-close sends chills up and down my spine.