Spiders 101: Types of Spiders & Spider Identification (2023)

Identify Common Spider Species

Spiders often appear in horror movies, haunted houses and, worst of all, inside our homes where they are usually met with shrieking and the bottom of a shoe. It's easy to understand why people cringe at the sight of a spider on the wall. The way they move is startling and unpredictable, their webs are sticky and their hunting methods can be rather gruesome. There are also many myths floating around about spiders (no, people don't regularly swallow spiders in their sleep!) that make this pest seem much scarier than it actually is. In reality, almost all types of spiders found in the United States pose no threats to people.

Despite the benevolent nature of most spiders, there are two species in the southern and western United States that can cause serious harm when accidentally disturbed - the black widow and brown recluse. Below is a guide to help you identify some of the most common types of spiders and the potential threat they can pose to your health.

Black Widow Spiders

Spiders 101: Types of Spiders & Spider Identification (1)

  • Appearance: Black widows are black and shiny, with a telltale red hourglass shape onthe underside of their abdomen. Young black widow spiders appear orange and white, becoming darker and more black in color as they age.
  • Region: This spider species is found throughout United States, but is most common in the southern regions where the temperature is warmer.
  • Habitat: Black widow spiders tend to seek out dry and dark locations that are protected, such as underneath stones or decks, as well as in hollow tree stumps and in firewood piles. They can also be found in man-made structures such as sheds and barns. Black widow spiders spin their webs near ground level.
  • Threat: While male black widow spiders rarely bite, females are known to be aggressive and bite in defense, especially when guarding eggs. Symptoms of a black widow bite include fever, increased blood pressure, sweating and nausea. Pain from a bite typically reaches a maximum in 1-3 hours. Fatalities are unlikely, as long as proper medical treatment is sought in a timely manner.
  • Unique Facts: Black widow spiders are named after the popular belief that females eat their male counterparts after mating. However, this is a rare occurrence in the natural world.

Brown Recluse Spiders

Spiders 101: Types of Spiders & Spider Identification (2)

  • Appearance: Brown recluse spiders are light to dark brown, with a characteristic dark brown violin marking on their back.
  • Region: This species is found in the central Midwest U.S. from Ohio to Nebraska and southward through Texas and Georgia.
  • Habitat:Well known for their secretive or "reclusive" behavior, brown recluse spiders often live outdoors in debris and woodpiles. Indoors, they can be found under furniture, inside storage items and in dark recesses such as baseboards and window moldings. Closets, attics and crawlspaces are the most common hiding places of brown recluse spiders, as they provide warm, dry and dark environments.
  • Threat: Like the black widow spider, the brown recluse spider bites in defense. Bites are usually not felt at first but can produce a stinging sensation followed by intense pain. Restlessness, fever and difficulty sleeping are common symptoms of a brown recluse spider bite. In serious cases, a bite can lead to an open, ulcerating sore that requires medical treatment.
  • Unique Facts: Male brown recluse spiders wander farther from the nest than females and are therefore more likely to crawl into shoes or other attire. Additionally, while other spider species feed on small, flying insects, this species prefers small cockroaches and crickets.

House Spiders

Spiders 101: Types of Spiders & Spider Identification (3)

  • Appearance: House spiders are often yellowish-brown in color with an elongated abdomen, although their color can be highly variable.
  • Region:Named after the fact that it is the spider species most commonly encountered indoors, house spiders are found worldwide and are common throughout the United States and Canada.
  • Habitat:While this species can be found under furniture and in closets, they are most commonly encountered in garages, sheds and barns, where catching prey is easier for them. Outside, they are often found spinning webs around windows and under eaves, especially near light sources that attract potential food sources.
  • Threat: House spiders are nuisance pests and pose relatively little threat to humans, but they may bite when threatened.
  • Unique Facts:A female house spider can lay more than 3,500 eggs in their lifetime.

Jumping Spiders

Spiders 101: Types of Spiders & Spider Identification (4)

  • Appearance: Jumping spiders are compact in shape with short legs, causing them to sometimes be mistaken for black widow spiders. They are usually black in color and covered with dense hair or scales that are brightly colored.
  • Region: Jumping spiders are found throughout the United States.
  • Habitat: Jumping spiders build web retreats, which can be found both indoors and outdoors. These spiders frequently hunt inside structures around windows and doors because more insects are attracted to these areas and their vision is best in sunlit areas. Outside, jumping spiders are commonly seen running over tree bark, under stones and boards, and on bushes, fences, decks and the outside of buildings.
  • Threat: Jumping spiders may bite in defense, but their bite is not poisonous. In fact, this species is more likely to run from a human threat rather than attack.
  • Unique Facts: Unlike most spiders, jumping spiders are active during the daytime and seem to like sunshine. They have the best vision of all spiders and are able to detect movement up to 18" in distance. However, they can't see very well at night.

Long-bodied Cellar Spiders

Spiders 101: Types of Spiders & Spider Identification (5)

  • Appearance: Cellar spiders are pale yellow to light brown in color with long, skinny legs and a small body.
  • Region: There are about 20 species of cellar spiders found throughout the United States and Canada.
  • Habitat:Cellar spiders are typically found in areas with high humidity and moisture, basements and crawlspaces. They can also be found in the corners of garages, sheds, barns and warehouses, on eaves, windows and ceilings, and inside closets, sink cabinets and bath-traps.
  • Threat: Cellar spiders are not known to bite and therefore pose no threat to humans.
  • Unique Facts: Cellar spiders are commonly referred to as "daddy-long-legs" because of their very long, thin legs.

Wolf Spiders

Spiders 101: Types of Spiders & Spider Identification (6)

  • Appearance: Wolf spiders are usually dark brown with paler stripes or markings, and they have long, spiny legs. This species is often large and hairy, which can alarm some people.
  • Region: More than 100 species of wolf spiders are found throughout the United States and Canada.
  • Habitat:Wolf spiders can enter structures in search of prey. Once inside, they tend to stay at or near floor level, especially along walls and under furniture. Wolf spiders may be brought indoors with firewood. Outside, this species can be found under stones, landscape timbers, firewood, leaves and other debris. They often rest in such sheltered places during the day.
  • Threat: Wolf spiders can bite, but it's extremely rare unless they are provoked or handled.
  • Unique Facts: Unlike most spiders, wolf spiders don't hunt with webs. Instead, they actually chase down their prey using their fast running ability.

Dangerous or not, most people would prefer not to have any types of spiders in their homes. The best way to prevent spider infestations is to remove any possible harborage sites. Spiders are more likely to take refuge in dwellings during the colder months and will gravitate toward dark, undisturbed nooks and crannies. Therefore, homeowners should keep garages, attics and basements clean and clutter-free, avoid leaving clothing and shoes on the floor and seal off any cracks or crevices around the home from different types of spiders. If you're dealing with or discover a serious spider infestation, contact a licensed pest control professional.


How do I identify a spider I found? ›

Look at the shape of the legs.

Some spiders have long, thin legs (like the yellow sac), while others have stocky, thick legs (like the wolf spider). Some spiders (such as the lynx spider) have tiny hairs on their legs, while others have spikes (such as the funnel spider) or fur.

Where can I send a picture of a spider for identification? ›

Spider Identification Community

Spider ID is an online collective of amateur and professional spider enthusiasts. Register to contribute to Spider ID's growing library of spider pictures and educational information.

Is there an app to identify spiders? ›

Insect identifier app by photo camera 2021 Features: Instantly Identify 1000+ species of insects. Instantly identify insects with Insect identifier, spiders or butterflies and many other insects in the photo or camera.

What are all the different types of spiders? ›

What is the most common spider in the house? ›

Funnel web spiders are the most common spiders found in homes, particularly during late summer and early fall. They produce dense mats of silk in areas such as shrubs, thick grass, or corners of buildings.

What color is a poisonous spider? ›

Venomous spiders found in the Southeast are: Black widow – identified by the pattern of red coloration on the underside of its abdomen. Brown recluse – identified by its brown color and dark, violin-shaped marking on its head.

How do you identify common house spiders? ›

Size: Female common house spiders measure 5 to 8 mm in length, while males measure only 4 mm. Color: Common house spiders are typically brown or gray in color, with darker chevron markings along their bodies. Body: A house spider's body is divided into the cephalothorax and the abdomen.

What bugs are mistaken for spiders? ›

Their officical name is Rhaphidophoridae. They're also known as “criders,” “sprikets,” “cave weta,” “cave crickets,” “camelback crickets,” or “camel crickets.” And because they look so much like spiders, they're definitely scary to anyone who's not a fan.

What is the most harmless spider ever? ›

Here are some common house spider species that are harmless:
  • Cellar spiders.
  • Common house spiders.
  • Hobo spiders.
  • Jumping spiders.
  • Sac spiders.
  • Wolf spiders.
Oct 27, 2020

What is the most feared spider? ›

Sydney funnel-web spider. According to the Guinness World Records, the Sydney funnel-web spider, Atrax robustus, is the most dangerous spider to humans in the world. Native to Australia, this poisonous spider is found in moist habitats such as under logs or in gardens.

Can a spider recognize me? ›

Spiders do have feelings, but unlike a dog or a cat, they won't bond with you. In fact, they likely won't even recognize you. They simply aren't hardwired to be companions to humans and should never be bought at pet stores, online, or anywhere else.

Can I pick up a house spider? ›

People aren't usually overjoyed to see a spider crawling around inside their home. But Matt Bertone, an entomologist at North Carolina State University, says spiders are an important part of our indoor ecosystem and rarely a danger to humans — so it's best to just leave them alone.

What happens if a brown recluse bite goes untreated? ›

Brown recluse bites can cause redness, itchiness, pain and wounds. If the wound is untreated, it could lead to bruising, a blister, an open sore and scarring.

Why you should never squish a spider? ›

Experts warn that squashing a wolf spider may not be enough of a blow to kill all of her young. Or as pest control company Terminix puts it, if the spider you stomp on happens to be a female, the impact could release hundreds of spiderlings in your home.

Is it OK to squish a spider? ›

If you cannot stand having a spider in the home, don't squish it to bits. Instead, capture it with a jar and release it outside. It will find somewhere else to go and will continue preying on the bugs you also despise.

Do house spiders want to hurt you? ›

Myth: Spiders in the home are a danger to children and pets.

Fact: House spiders prey on insects and other small creatures. They are not bloodsuckers, and have no reason to bite a human or any other animal too large for them to eat.

What attracts spiders to a house? ›

Some common factors that attract spiders include the presence of insects or other prey, warm and dark spaces, and moisture. Spiders may be drawn to damp areas like basements, crawl spaces, and bathrooms, as well as cluttered areas where insects are more likely to be found.

What is the fast moving spider in my house? ›

Wolf Spider

They can range from a quarter-inch to an inch and a half in size. They're hairy and fast-moving with black, gray and brown coloring. Wolf spiders are commonly found inside homes during the colder months, as they seek shelter from cold temperatures.

What makes a house have a lot of spiders? ›

The number one reason why spiders come into our homes is in the search for food. If you have food sources that insects can get into, they will thrive inside your home. And, when insects thrive, spiders will thrive too. If you want to control spider populations in your home, it's crucial to prevent pests in general.

What color do spiders hate? ›

The color that spiders tend to hate is light blue. People don't just paint their porches light blue for the aesthetic. Painting your porch ceiling in this shade is a pretty effective way of keeping spiders away. The color is also known to repel wasps.

What spiders should I worry about? ›

Black widow and brown recluse spiders are the most common (and infamous) of these spider groups, respectively. Both of these spider species inhabit the midwestern and eastern US. If you're worried about spiders, these are the two species to watch out for.

Are backyard spiders poisonous? ›

Garden spiders are not poisonous. Although the correct terminology would be venomous, which they also are not. Garden spider bites are said to be less painful than a wasp or bee sting.

What time of year are house spiders most common? ›

In fact, house spiders tend to be most visible in the late summer and early autumn, when males come out to mate. Though it often appears that they are coming in at that time because the summer warmth is going away, they are in fact more visible because they are scurrying around to try and find a female.

What spiders are good to have around the house? ›

Benign household spiders may include:
  • Jumping spiders.
  • Cobweb spiders.
  • Wolf spiders.
  • Parson spiders.
  • Grass spiders.
Nov 8, 2012

What are the tiny clear spiders in my bed? ›

White Mites are a species of spider mite and are tiny clear bugs known to infest outdoor garden plants and house plants but can also infest areas of the home. White mites are also used to describe Wood Mites, a type of mite known to frequent damp wood.

What looks like a spider but is not a spider? ›

The harvestman is very distinctive with a round, compact body and extremely long legs. Although it looks like a long-legged spider, it isn't one. It is one of the Opilones, a group of arachnids closely related to spiders. Unlike the spiders, it has no silk glands so is not able to spin a web.

What is the weird ant spider? ›

Aphantochilus rogersi is a species of ant-mimicking crab spiders from South America. It is found from Panama to Paraguay. It mimics ants of the genus Cephalotes, which are their preferred prey. It has the unusual behaviour of carrying the dead husks of ants aloft like a protective umbrella.

What state has the most spiders? ›

California is home to around 66 different recognized spider species that vary in appearance and size. The state also has more species of spiders than any other state in the United States. California has a rich coastal landscape and natural diversity that makes it a desired place for many species of spiders to inhabit.

What spider kills the fastest? ›

The funnel web “classically speaking” is considered the world's deadliest spider because it “kills so quickly”. “In terms of speed of death, in Australia we say funnel web, 15 minutes, no sweat,” Raven said. “With a funnel web bite to the torso, you're dead. No other spider can claim that reputation.”

What is the deadliest spider in the US? ›

#1: Brown Recluse Spider

Its venom destroys the walls of blood vessels near the site of the bite, sometimes causing a large skin ulcer. Native to the central and eastern part of the United States, the brown recluse spider is perhaps the deadliest species in all of North America.

What is the greatest spider ever? ›

The Goliath birdeater is the world's largest spider by weight. The absolute largest spider in history is the Goliath bird eater (Theraphosa blondi), which is the largest spider alive today by length and weight.

What happens if you get bit by a black widow spider? ›

After being bitten by a black widow spider, you may have painful swelling around the bite. You may also notice cramps, muscle spasms, and achiness, and you may be sick to your stomach. These symptoms may get worse for up to about 12 hours after you were bitten. Then they should start to go away.

What is an aggressive house spider? ›

Tegenaria agrestis are known as hobo spiders and aggressive house spiders. Because of its common features and color, they can easily be confused with other spiders. Females: The hobo spider female measures between 11 to 14 mm in body length. Its brown legs are solidly colored and exhibit no markings.

Is a banana spider poisonous to humans? ›

For example, the Brazilian wandering banana spiders, genus Phoneutria, are among the most venomous spiders on Earth and its bite can be deadly to humans, especially children.

What does a wolf spider bite look like? ›

What Does a Wolf Spider Bite Look Like, and How's It Treated? A wolf spider bite usually leaves fang-like marks on the skin, which may look slightly torn. Some bites may cause redness, swelling, and ulcers. To treat the bite, wash the area and cover it with a bandage.

Is a common house spider poisonous? ›

Most spiders, including common house spiders, are harmless to humans. Though they do have venom glands, their venom is poisonous to prey, not people. Plus, few spiders actually bite humans. Of those that do, fatalities are rare, even among venomous species such as the black widow spider.

How do you identify a recluse spider? ›

For laypersons, the most distinguishing feature of a brown recluse is a dark violin-shaped mark on its back, with the neck of the violin pointing toward the rear (abdomen) of the spider. This feature is consistent in adult brown recluses, but sometimes less obvious in younger spiders.

How do you tell if a spider is a he or she? ›

As a spider grows, it sheds its skin, or moults, several times. The reproductive organs do not develop and become visible until after the final moult. The most reliable character to use to distinguish male and female spiders is the position of the reproductive openings.

How many spiders in a house is normal? ›

They can be found in 68 percent of bathrooms and 77 percent of bedrooms. On average, 61.84 spiders can be found per home.

What scent does spiders hate? ›

It's easy to keep spiders away using natural products. These eight-legged creatures hate the smell of citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges. They also don't like peppermint oils, tea tree oils, eucalyptus, and vinegar. Using any of these around your home will keep spiders away.

What keeps spiders out of the house? ›

Spiders supposedly hate all citrus scents, so rub orange or lemon peel along skirting boards, window sills and bookshelves. Use lemon-scented cleaners and furniture polish, and burn citronella candles both inside and outside of your home.

What kills spiders and keep them away? ›

Vinegar: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray it directly onto any spiders you see. Vinegar contains acetic acid which burns the spider upon contact.

What does a hobo spider look like? ›

What does a hobo spider look like? It can be difficult to identify a hobo spider simply by the way it looks. Long legs, a brown body, and a grayish abdomen with yellowish markings are typical of many types of spiders. The body length of a hobo spider is about 1/4 to 1/2 inch long with a leg span of about 1-2 inches.

What kills brown recluse spiders? ›

Fortunately, many broad-spectrum pesticides like cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, deltamethrin, and lambda cyhalothrin are also effective against brown recluse spiders. These are available in spray, liquid, and dust forms.

Can a spider cry? ›

Called stridulations, the shrill cries sound like squeaky leather and are made in response to the rhythmic squeezing actions of the male's genitalia from inside the female during sex.

What does a daddy spider look like? ›

Daddy-long-legs spiders are easily recognised by their extremely long, skinny legs and small body. Pholcus phalangioides has a brown patch on its pale carapace and a cream to pale brown, lightly patterned abdomen.

What does a female house spider look like? ›

The common house spider female is 5 to 6 millimeters in length with a yellowish-brown carapace and a dirty-white to brown abdomen with gray chevrons. The legs are yellow, with darker rings at the end of each segment.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kerri Lueilwitz

Last Updated: 10/10/2023

Views: 5518

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kerri Lueilwitz

Birthday: 1992-10-31

Address: Suite 878 3699 Chantelle Roads, Colebury, NC 68599

Phone: +6111989609516

Job: Chief Farming Manager

Hobby: Mycology, Stone skipping, Dowsing, Whittling, Taxidermy, Sand art, Roller skating

Introduction: My name is Kerri Lueilwitz, I am a courageous, gentle, quaint, thankful, outstanding, brave, vast person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.