Black Spiders: How to Identify it

Spiders come in a vast array of colors, but the black spiders are still a common sight.

Here’s a list of few of the more common types of black spiders and descriptions and photos to help you identify them.

Black spiders
Extreme close up of a White-tailed Spider (Lampona murina). Photo credit: moody

The truth about black spiders.

Identifying a species of black spider may seem to be an intimidating task. Fortunately, most black spiders with have either odd patterns, additional colors, or physical differences you can use to help you.

Related: How to identify white spiders.

Tips for identifying black spiders.

When it comes to identifying black spiders, there are a few features you need to pay attention to: eight legs with a creamy-white colored abdomen and cephalothorax (head), six or eight eyes, as well as distinctive mouthparts. 

Additionally, many of these black spiders boast bulbous bodies that appear pure white in coloration. However, some black spiders may present variously hued markings on the body or black spots; their legs might also be spiny to boot!

Differentiating a black spider from an insect is simple – arachnids have eight legs and two body segments while bugs have just six limbs and three parts to their bodies. 

Additionally, black spiders can easily be identified by the webs they construct as well as other characteristics such as having rudimentary eyes, no antennae, and never possessing wings. 

In essence, all spider species share these similar traits which make them distinct from other creatures in the animal kingdom.

Are black spiders dangerous to humans and pets?

Every black spider has chelicerae, which are fangs or pincers that can bite when provoked. Black spiders, despite their harmless appearance, have the same potential to sting and cause pain similar to a bee sting – beginning as an intense ache before creating a burning sensation. 

Most black spider species hide under leaves and stones in gardens; thus bites from these arachnids usually occur during summertime gardening activities. However, some black spiders do inflict painful, even venomous bites.

Black spider with white spots
Zebra back spider. Photo credit: Stanz.

Black spiders with white zig zag patterns: The Zebra spider.

Female Zebra spiders (Salticus scenicus) range in size from .2 to .35 inches, males are smaller with the largest being about .25 inches. The males which often have to struggle with the female and other suitors, ave larges jaws than the females.

And, of course, there are the eyes of the Zebra spider. It has four pairs of eyes, two of which (the anterior median eyes) are almost comically large and sit next to each other on the spider’s flat face. The larger eyes give the Zebra jumping sider binocular vision.

Zebra spiders are known for their black hairs with white hairs that form the zebra-like stripes.

Zebra spiders: Habitat.

Zebra are found across Europe, North America, and North Asia.

Outdoors they are found in open habitats such as the faces of rocks, rocky beaches and the trunks of trees.

Zebra jumping spiders do not create webs to catch their prey. Instead, jumping spiders build “retreats.” Retreats are more loosely woven and serve only to protect the spider and house the female and her eggs.

You will find Zebra jumping spider retreats inside your home under chairs and tables, near windows and doors, or tucked between cracks in wood flooring. Outside, Zebra jumping spiders build their retreats on leaves, tight spaces in wood piles, and in crevices in tree bark.

Jumping spiders have poor night vision and spend the night in their retreats. During the day, they are attracted to sunlit areas inside your home (windows are a favorite as other insects will be drawn to them). Outside, you’ll find jumping spiders running everywhere the sun has brightened (pool decks, fences, patio stones, etc.).

Aside from the odd, likely trapped against its will, window-dwelling Zerba jumping spider, jumping spiders are not inclined to live inside your home. Indeed, you will never find you have an infestation of jumping spiders

Black spider with white spots
Female Johnson’s jumping spider (Phiddipus johnsoni) feeding on a hover fly (Syrphidae). Delta, British Columbia, Canada. Photo credit: cooper

Black spiders with red backs.

You can read about the redback spider here, the red house spider here, and the red widow spider here. There are a few tarantulas with red colors, like the Brazilian giant tawny red and the Colombian giant redleg tarantula—but they probably aren’t what you saw. Finally there is the red velvet ant—but you know the difference between an ant and a spider, right?

The black and red jumping spider (Johnsoni), is a spider with red back, also aptly known as the red-backed jumping spider, it’s one of North America’s biggest and most commonly seen members of the jumping spiders family. However, it should not be mistaken for its unrelated cousin, Latrodectus hasselti (yeah, the redback spider, again) – an immensely more venomous creature.

Black spiders: The black and red jumping spider.

Adult black and red jumping spiders (spiders with Red back) are typically one centimeter in length, and both sexes have a vivid red abdomen, with the female possessing an extra black central stripe. Additionally, their chelicerae boast a bold teal coloration, while the rest of their bodies remain primarily black. 

This red and black jumping spider (spider with red back) stands out as its members are mimics of Dasymutilla wasps—commonly known as “velvet ants”—which share similar size and coloring features but possess a painfully powerful sting.

Black spiders
Parson spider. Photo credit: Hargrove

Black spider: The Parson spiders.

Herpyllus ecclesiasticus, or the “parson spider,” is an aptly named arachnid distinguished by its abundant black and gray hairs that cover its body. Its chestnut-brown exoskeleton is visible on its legs, while a small white spot lies just above the spinnerets – resembling the cravat worn in centuries past. These spiders are tiny; females measure 1/3 to 1/5 inches long, whereas males average 6 millimeters.

Parson Spiders: Behavior.

Parson spiders are expertly adept at concealment during the day, usually hiding in rolled leaves, under bark, or stones. But watch out for them when night falls; these spiders can scurry about with tremendous speed and agility! To evade predators, Parson spiders will often run in a zigzag fashion making it difficult to catch them, even when encountered indoors. 

In the fall, female parson spiders lay down white egg sacs beneath tree bark and logs – offering protection from potential danger as this is where they stay to hibernate until springtime comes back around again.

Black spider
Purse web spider
Purse web spider. Photo credit: Krasensky.

Black spiders: The Purse web spider.

The purse web spider builds its aerial web by fashioning a web tube with its silk that hangs vertically (except for the black purse web spider’s, which runs horizontally) against a tree or rock. After weaving the tube, the purse web spider camouflages it by covering its surface with lichen, bark, and other local bits of local material and debris.

When an insect crawls over the tube, the purse web spider races up and pierces its abdomen from below with her fangs. 

The fangs of a purse web spider are as unique as their aerial webs and likely why the spider has to use the manner of hunting their prey. A purse web spider’s fangs only move up and down, so they cannot pinch their prey like a normal spider. Therefore, using an aerial web to pierce a victim from below makes perfect sense.

The protection that using such a web gives to a purse web spider is considerable. Purse web spiders rarely venture out of their lairs for anything except mating. To remain inside and protected, the purse web spider even adapted a clever way to dispose of its trash.

After the purse web spider has killed her prey with her fangs, she cuts a slit in the tube, pulses the victim inside, and then immediately reseals the opening. When she’s finished her meal, she simply climbs to the top of the aerial web and tosses the garbage onto the forest floor below.

Black spiders
spiny-orb-weaver On the finger. Spinybacked Orbweaver Spider (Gasteracantha cancriformis). Photo credit: Physics_Joe

Black Spiders: Spinybacked orb weavers. 

Black Spinybacked orb weavers (Gasteracantha cancriformis) demonstrate distinct sexual dimorphism concerning the size. Females measure 5-9 mm in length and 10-13mm across, whereas males are 2-3 mm long and slightly narrower. All morphs have six abdominal spines; however, the coloration of these may vary from red to yellow or orange depending on location. Additionally, many occasionally boast white spots underneath their abdomens and colored legs.

The ebony coloring of the Black Spinybacked Orb Weaver can be advantageous in nabbing their prey; however, they become more exposed to predation due to their unthreatening pigmentation or design that fails at repelling aggressors.

Black Spinybacked orb weavers: Habitat.

The black Spinybacked orb weaver spider has made its home among woodland edges and shrubby gardens, as well as in Florida’s citrus groves. Known to frequent trees or their surrounding foliage, this species is often spotted nesting high above ground level.

Black spiders
Black widow spider. Photo credit: Ondreicka

Black spider: The Black Widow.

The black widow spider in North America can also be red (Latrodectus bishopi ) or brown (Latrodectus geometricus). Despite their color, female black widows have dark-colored and easily identified reddish hourglass markings on the central underside. Only the female has a bite hazardous to humans.

Black widow spiders are the easiest spider in the world to identify. Unfortunately, black widow spiders are also the most horrifying spider to identify up close and personal. The fear of the hourglass-shaped spider’s bite is world-renowned throughout the temperate regains of the entire world.

In many articles on black widow spiders, the author suggests that the reports of their venom and the inherent dangers of encountering black widow spiders are deemed “over-rated.”

That’s not true. Indeed, the black widow spider is nasty and potentially fatal to young and elderly humans. Therefore, any helpful article will recommend they be avoided, and those who live where black widow spiders reside can identify and avoid them.

Related: How to identify and avoid huntsman spiders.

Related: How to identify jumping spiders.

Related: Biting Ants: Six-Legged Stingers Found in the States

Black spiders
Swift ground spider. Photo credit: Christenson.

Black Spiders: Spotted ground swift spider: Description

Distinguished by their orange legs, the Spotted ground swift spiders boast a striking black hue with white spots dotting most of its body. These arachnids usually measure an average length of 1/4 inch.

Distribution and habitat of the Spotted ground swift spider

Originating from Australia, the orange-legged swift spider had spread to New Zealand by 1943 and is now worldwide. The creature can often be noticed lurking in homes or short grasslands throughout New Zealand.

Black spiders.
Closeup of a male Pelegrina galathea, Peppered Jumper, with his boldly marked face. Photo credit: Oneal

Black spider: Peppered Jumping spiders.

Peppered Jumping spiders are spiders in the family Salticidae, consisting of over 6,000 species and making it the most prominent family of spiders. Peppered jumping spiders black and white in color—but remain nearly identical in all other respects to other species of jumping spider.

Peppered Jumping spiders are well known for their ability to jump long distances and for the excellent vision provided by their two large anterior median eyes.

Peppered Jumping spiders range from 1/25” to 1” in length. There is no limit to their body colors or patterns. However, male jumping spiders are more colorful than the more often dull-colored females.

And, of course, there are the eyes of the peppered jumping spider. It has four pairs of eyes, two of which (the anterior median eyes) are almost comically large and sit next to each other on the spider’s flat face

Cute, right? Indeed, cute enough to keep as pets.

Related: How long do ants live?

Related: What do ants eat?

Black spiders
A female long-palped ant-mimic sac spider, Castianeira longipalpas, crawling on a piece of rock. Photo credit: Ernie Cooper

Long-Palped Ant-Mimic Sac Spider: Description

The long-palped ant mimic sac spider may not resemble ants, but its behavior is unmistakably similar to that of the red-spotted ant mimic spider (C. descripta). If you observe them closely, they can be seen holding their two front legs up in such a way as to appear like six-legged creatures with antennae – an imitation of the ants! The purpose behind this behavior remains mysterious yet; however, it’s thought that these spiders use this technique to get close enough to capture and prey on unsuspecting ants.

Depending on age and sex, a Long-palped ant-mimic spider can display varying features. The abdomen is always black with at least four lateral white or light gray stripes, while the cephalothorax (head area) ranges from black to brown to almost white. Juveniles have entirely translucent brown legs, whereas adults possess two front leg pairs that transition between dark hues near the body and lighter shades toward their ends.

Adult females of the specimen can grow up to a maximum size of 1/2 an inch (13mm), while males and juveniles are much smaller, ranging from 3-6 mm. Colorations for these specimens may include black with white bands, wholly black, or bicolored in both black and brown.

White-tailed spider
Extreme close up of a White-tailed Spider (Lampona murina). Photo credit: moody

Black spiders: White-Tailed Spider.

White-tailed spiders have dark gray-colored, cigar-shaped bodies. Their legs are orange-brown with faint darker brown to black bands. The white tail name refers to the white spot at the tip of the abdomen just above the spinnerets. In addition, there are two barely noticeable white spots on both sides of the dorsal. 

Despite its apparent size in most photos, the white-tailed female (50% larger than the male) is just under 3/4 of an inch in length.

And we’ll pause right here. Sadly, not every white-tailed spider has a white tail. When coupled with the fact that several other species of spider get tagged as white-tails, identification can be tricky. You have been warned.

White-tailed spiders: Distribution and habitat.

We know of two common white-tailed spiders, Lampona cylindrata and Lampona murina, and possibly others that have yet to be identified.

Lampona murina resides in eastern Australia’s Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales. Lampona cylindrata calls home much of southern Australia, including Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia, and Victoria.

Both species of white-tailed spiders (Lampona cylindrata and Lampona murina) have migrated and found suitable habitats in New Zealand. The Lampona murina has lived on the North Island and the Lampona cylindrata throughout the South Island since 1980.

Black spiders
Sydney funnel-web spider. Photo credit: Ken Griffiths

Black spiders: The most dangerous?

The Sydney funnel-web spider (Atrax robustus) is a venomous spider native to eastern Australia, usually found within a 50-mile radius of Sydney. It is a member of a group of 40 species of funnel-web spiders known as Australian funnel-web spiders. Its bite is capable of causing severe illness or death in humans if left untreated.

The Sydney funnel-web has a body size ranging from 1/2 to 2 inches in length. These spiders are glossy and darkly colored, ranging from bluish-black, black, brown, or plum-colored hues.

Avoiding funnel-web spiders.

The burrows of funnel-web spiders can be found in cool, moist, and sheltered locations like under rotting logs, dense shrubs, heaped stone arrangements, leaf piles (seen below), and gardens.

After heavy rains, flooded-out funnel-web spiders will be active and found roaming around even during the day, especially at night. While gardeners always have to be alert for the presence of funnel-web spiders, the drier the conditions, the less likely a funnel-web spider will be active during the day.

Black spiders
Australian redback spider. Photo credit: Yeeles.

Black spiders with a redback.

Australia’s Redback spiders (Latrodectus hasselti) look like North America’s Black widow spiders (Latrodectusmactans). Indeed, these spiders are called redback black widow spiders, but it is a distinct species and only native to Australia.

Redback spiders are found throughout Australia and are common in urban settings and areas where construction and human activities have removed topsoil and vegetation.

During the summer, redback spiders are responsible for hundreds of bites of humans.

How to identify redback spiders.

Adult female redback spiders are black or brown and have an hourglass-shaped red or orangish mark on the underside of their abdomen and a conspicuous red stripe on the upper side. Her spherical body may be as much as 2/5ths of an inch long.

Male redback spiders are brown with white markings on the top of their abdomen and lighter-toned and less definite red markings. Males have bodies about 1/10 of an inch long.

Juvenile redback spiders are grayish with dark spots, and the young spiders grow darker with each mount. In addition, young female redback spiders have extra white markings on their abdomens. 

Black lace-weaver spiders
Close up macro on soft focus background of a female Black Lace Weaver Spider standing guard over her egg sack, spider silk covering the ground where she protects her precious hoard. Photo credit:

Black Lace-weaver spiders.

The fascinating thing about this spider?

After hatching, the Black lace-weaver is a matriphagous species, meaning their offspring devour her in cannibalism.

Black Lace-weaver: Identification.

This species of black lace-weaver is distinctive for its size, with females ranging from .4–.6 inches in body length and males slightly smaller at .3-.4 inches. Presenting a dark color palette including black, brown, dark red, and tan tones, the abdomen has light yellow markings that resemble an eerie skull mask or ghoulish pattern.

Habitat and distribution of the Black Lace-weaver

In springtime, adult males of the black lace-weaver species are likely to be discovered indoors while searching for a mate. But, conversely, adult females can be found inside or outside year round! These creatures generally favor dark and humid places like underneath logs, in cellars, and in crevices tucked away beneath stones or worn-out walls.

The majestic Black lace-weaver spider is native to Europe and can be found throughout the continent. Yet, it has been specifically introduced into North America, New Zealand, and some Eastern European countries such as Turkey. Unfortunately, it cannot survive in Northern Europe due to its frigid temperatures.

Further recommended reading about spiders.

Spider pages: Learn how to identify and avoid these spiders.

Long-Palped ant-mimic sac spider.

Peppered jumping spiders.

Spotted ground swift spider.

Spinybacked orb weavers.

Parson spiders.

White spiders.

Striped spider in the U.S.

How long do spiders live?

Spider anatomy 101.

The most venomous spiders in the world.

Zebra spiders.

Furrow orb weaver spider.

Marbled orb weaver spiders.

Red house spider identification.

Purse web spider.

Crab spider: How to identify.

Orb weaver Spiders: How to identify and get rid of them.

Common house spiders: How to Identify and get rid of them.

Dark fishing spiders.

Six-Eyed Sand Spider: Is the White Sand Spider Dangerous?

10 biggest spiders in the world.

The Red widow spider

Giant Huntsman Spider: How to Identify the Largest Spider

Brazilian salmon pink bird-eating tarantula

Brazilian Giant Tawny Red Tarantula

Colombian Giant Redleg Tarantula

Cerbalus Aravaensis: Middle East’s Largest Spider

Camel spiders: Myths and Facts.

Net-casting spiders: How to identify these spiders.

White-tailed spider: How to identify and manage.

Katipo Spider: How to identify New Zealand’s venomous spider

Brown widow spider: How to identify and avoid the false widow.

Redback spiders how to identify them and prevent bites

Funnel weaver spiders vs funnel-web

Cellar spiders how to identify and get rid of them

How to identify the wolf spider

How to identify the hobo spider

Brazilian wandering spider how to identify and avoid

Huntsman spider how to identify the eight legged freak

Jumping spiders how to identify these harmless hunters

Black widow spiders how to identify and avoid

Tarantulas appearance diet and mating

Do tarantulas bite?

Brown recluse spiders how to identify and avoid

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for

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