The most common spiders in Missouri bite only when threatened (usually while being squished while hiding inside clothes or shoes.
Most of the bites caused by spiders in Missouri result only in temporary redness and irritation at worst.
However, two spiders in Missouri may be hazardous: the brown recluse and female “black widow” spiders; thus, one must be aware of their surroundings and be able to identify these spiders.
Black widow spiders in Missouri.
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.
Male black widow vs. female black widow.
What are the differences between male black widow spiders and females?
Female black widows are shiny black, with a red-orange hourglass pattern on their abdomen. Male black widows are brown or gray with small red spots. Only females bite and inject venom. Females can live for up to 18 months, but males only five. Female black widows are twice the size of males.
Black male widow spider size vs. female.
A black male widow spider can have a body length of between 1/10 to 2/5 of an inch. The average size of a black male widow is 1/4 of an inch. Female black widows have body lengths averaging 1/2 of an inch. However, at the start of some early season courtships, the male is only about 1/10 the size of the female.
Male black widow spider vs. female: Color differences.
The male black widow spider is gray or brown with differing red or red and white discolorations on the top of its abdomen. These markings range from spots to a single, solid stripe.
Female black widows have dark brown to shiny black bodies and conscious orange to red hourglass on the bottom of their abdomens.
Positively identifying brown recluse spiders in Missouri.
Identifying brown recluse spiders in Missouri begins by considering where you have found the spider in question.
Brown recluse spiders (Loxosceles reclusa) are commonly found in the Southern Central and Midwestern states. Sure, you could be looking at a traveler who has hitched a ride north, further east, or west. However, that spider is well outside its native territory. Indeed, it will never procreate enough to become an actual problem on the level of an infestation.
Traveling spiders (like the Hobo spider) sometimes enter and inhabit new regions. But the brown recluse spider won’t survive such migrations.
So, unless you have moved from western Kentucky too, let’s say, New York, you should be okay. However, there’s no sense in taking chances. Perhaps be careful when unpacking those boxes and chairs—just to be sure. Heck, the E.R. doctor in New York might be untrained to recognize your bite symptoms.
Brown recluse spiders: The eyes have it!
Adult brown recluse spiders in Missouri are about the size of an American quarter (nearly an inch). Surprisingly, they are brown or tannish in color. Their abdomens and legs have no bands, mottling, stripes, or visible spines.
Don’t forget that they neither play violins or fiddles nor possess images of such musical instruments in markings or tattoos.
What sets the brown recluse spider apart from most other spiders you will encounter? First, they only have six eyes!
Retake a look at the closeup photo above. You’ll see that brown recluse spiders have a semi-circular eye arrangement (three sets of two), but most spiders have eight eyes.
Okay, I’ll admit that counting the number of tiny eyes on an inch-long spider is difficult. And no one has a magnifying glass at home, which is readily available anymore. So grab that iPhone, snap a photo, and zoom in on the spider’s face.
Harvestmen (Daddy-Long-Legs) spiders in Missouri.
Harvestmen and ticks, commonly recognized as “daddy-long-legs,” may appear similar to spiders; however, they are not true spiders – instead, they belong to the arachnid family. Unlike spiders with two body segments, harvestmen have a single-segmented torso accompanied by their distinctively thin and elongated legs. In addition, in contrast with other species of Arachnids, such as mites or scorpions, Harvestmen boast an oval-shaped body structure.
Omnivorous by nature, ticks hunt small insects, scavenge on decaying matter, or feed off plant juices. Lacking venom but capable of producing an unpleasant scent, these external parasites have a unique trait – their tiny legs, which barely extend beyond their almost flat body form. Once they take in blood meals, the body can swell up to resemble that of a lima bean.
Common house spider in Missouri: Description.
The common house spider in Missouri comes in many muted shades, such as gray, tan, brown, or yellow. It also has darker skin patches or stripes running through its primary body color. The abdomen of the common house spider is higher than it is long and round in shape. Most common house spiders have darker-colored legs with bands or rings of color on them.
In Montana, females have yellow legs, and males have orange legs.
The larger female common house spider in Missouri ranges from 0.12 to 0.18 inches. Due to their poor vision, these spiders usually do not flee from or even notice the approach of humans. Such poor vision is common among all web-weaving spiders.
There are over 200 species of common house spiders in the United States. The messy, billowy webs they construct easily identify them. These cobwebs function perfectly as entanglements for prey.
Common house spiders in Missouri are part of the family Theridiidae (the widow family), and use their combed rear feet to pull silk from their spinnerets and toss it over entangled prey to immobilize them further.
Hobo spiders in Missouri: Identification.
The hobo spider in Missouri is so challenging to identify that 99% of all the photos of one on the web are actually other spiders. Does this mean you can’t positively prove the spider you found in your home is a hobo spider?
A hobo spider funnel web in Missouri is easily recognizable and distinguishable from other funnel web spiders. If you find a funnel web, look down into the hole. If you see a folded-over spider just below the rim, that’s a hobo spider.
Related: Tarantula bites.
Color and features of hobo spiders in Missouri.
The hobo spider is 1/4 to 1/2 inch long and tan to brownish. Chevron patterns down its abdomen will point toward the spider’s head. It will also have a light stripe that runs down the middle of its sternum.
Related: Is that a black widow spider?
Related: Meet the scary Huntsman spider.
Cellar spiders In Missouri: Identification.
Cellar spiders in Missouri range from less than a 1/10th of an inch to 2/5ths of an inch in length. They have peanut-shaped bodies and oversized leg lengths, with some cellar spiders having long spans of nearly two inches.
The length of their legs is one key identifier; most cellar spiders have legs four times as big as their bodies. The other identifier is the body width being three times as wide as long.
They have eight eyes (grouped as two laterals of three and two smaller eyes whose borders touch each other. Cellar spiders in Missouri have bodies that are colored gray, pale yellow, brown, and sometimes even appear as clear —with chevron marking.
Cellar spiders are found in every country and continent except Antarctica.
Cellar spider webs.
Cellar spiders in Missouri make unsophisticated and unusual webs for a spider.
Like black widow spiders, they wait for their prey while hanging upside down. When prey is detected, cellar spiders vibrate their webs with their bodies, and this helps further entangle any insects caught in it.
When cellar spider bite, they inject a toxic venom (though it cannot harm a human) that is legendarily thought to be the most potent venom in the spider kingdom. This legend has yet to be scientifically proven.
Cellar spiders in Missouri do not repair, clean, or remake their webs. Instead, they build additional layers on existing webs. This habit may save them time and energy, but in your home or barn, it quickly makes the web of a cellar spider conspicuous.
Black & yellow garden spider in Missouri.
Araneidae: Argiope aurantia
Towering high above other spiders in Missouri, the black and yellow garden spider catches the eye as they weave its webs of architectural marvels. With minimal use of silk, these orb weavers can effectively extend their sensory system while trapping or slowing down flying prey. Ambling through sunny fields and gardens, you can spot this awe-inspiring species spinning its web quickly.
The web has several parts:
Non-sticky spokes (radii) and lines that frame the web provide structural support.
- The sticky spiral traps flying insects.
- The broad swaths of white zigzag silk deter birds from passing through it.
The web is rebuilt each morning to refresh the glue on the spiral. Large prey items are wrapped and immobilized with broad bands of swathing silk. Sexually dimorphic adult females are hundreds of times larger than tiny males.
Crab Spiders in Missouri: How to Identify
The crab spider in Missouri gets its name because it can hold its legs crabwise and move backward and sideways, not just forward. Mostar crab spiders are a member of the Thomisidae family; however, some belong to the Sicariidae (like the Brown recluse), Sparassidae (like the Huntsman’s spider), or Selenopidae (like Jumping spiders) families.
Researchers now believe crab spiders can change their color over time.
Crab spiders in Missouri are also called Flower crab spiders, and many, like my favorite, the Goldenrod crab spider, can be found on flowers like roses and goldenrod. In the early Fall, the goldenrod plants around my home are teeming with goldenrod crab spiders, just waiting for the unwary butterfly or grasshopper to land nearby.
Crab spider identification.
Crab spiders in Missouri come in many colors, including pink, yellow, blue, black, white, and green. The easiest way to identify a crab spoiler is by noting the front four legs that are longer and thicker than the four rear legs.
The crab spider in Missouri has eight eyes mounted on a lump on the front of their cephalothorax. They have two forward-mounted claws, flat bodies, and crabwise legs.
The crab spider in Missouri can change color slightly with each molt, allowing it to camouflage itself against its current background. Some researchers believe crab spiders can even assume the colorations of their prey.
Crab spiders do not make a web, instead using a single start of silk to support themselves. Females wait for prey while sitting patiently on a plant or flower. Male crab spiders hunt while wandering around.
Special crab spider types.
In the Thomisidae family, there are 2100 species and around 175 genera.
The Goldenrod spider is of the genus Misumena, Misumena vatia in particular. They are one of the species of crab spiders known to change color from their normal or resting color to meet their predatory needs.
Bark crab spiders (Bassaniana) live camouflaged amongst the bark of trees while hunting prey.
Oxytate, which turns green to conceal itself in the grass or on a leaf.
Phrynarachne spiders that look like bird poop.
Wolf spiders in Missouri: Description.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the wolf spider in Missouri is its face. This spider has three rows of eyes, four small ones on the bottom, two medium-sized ones on the top, and two much larger eyes in the middle. Wolf spiders are known to have excellent vision for spotting and tracking prey.
Wolf spider eyes have reflective tissue like canids such as wolves and coyotes. This tissue, tapetum lucidum reflects visible light back through the retina and increases the light available to the photoreceptors—significantly increasing the wolf spider’s night vision.
And just like wolves and coyotes, you can use a flashlight at night to locate wolf spiders by scanning an area and spotting the reflected “glow” from the light’s beam.
The wolf spider also has an impressive set of fangs.
Texas Brown Tarantula: Description.
The Texas brown tarantula (Aphonopelma hentzi) is a powerfully built and densely furred species, proudly serving as Missouri’s largest spider. Its body and legs showcase an even distribution of dark chocolatey-brown coloration with reddish hairs along the carapace. Out of all North American spiders, this arachnid stands alone in its native presence to Missouri; it has also earned the moniker “Missouri Tarantula” or “Oklahoma Tarantula.”
The Texas brown tarantula’s length (not including legs) averages 2 inches for females and 1½ inches for males.
Garden Ghost Spider in Missouri: Identification.
Garden Ghost Spiders in Missouri boast an unmistakable appearance, boasting an oblong and pointed abdomen and a creamy-white body further accented by a pale brownish triangular abdominal stripe. Moreover, when viewed up close, the spiders reveal black spines on their eight long legs and two extended pedipalps resembling black boxing gloves – all of which render Garden Ghosts incredibly identifiable.
The small yellowish-white or pale brown-white spiders typically measure 0.15″ – 0.3″ long. Another identifiable feature of Garden ghost spiders in the family Anyphaenidaeis that the two central eyes on the bottom row are the smallest.
Easily identifiable, MIssiouri’s whitish Garden ghost spider has a distinctly pointed abdomen and pale tan legs with black spines. Additionally, this arachnid species features two rows of four eyes for maximum visibility.
The Carolina wolf spider in Missouri.
The Hogna carolinensis, or Carolina wolf spider, is one of the largest wolf spiders in Missouri and the eastern United States. With a body length of up to 1.5 inches and an impressive leg span extending up to 3 inches, this robust hunter doesn’t need webs for survival – its agility allows it to chase down its prey simply.
These wolf spiders in Missouri are typically brown or grey, with a mottled or striped pattern on their abdomen. They reside in various habitats, including forests, grasslands, and urban areas. The Carolina wolf spider is not dangerous, as it will only bite if it feels threatened. However, their large size and sometimes rapid movements can intimidate some people.
The Spotted orb weaver (Neoscona crucifera) is a captivating arachnid in the Araneidae family, found from Maine to Florida on the East Coast and Minnesota in Midwest America, reaching down to Arizona and southern California.
This orb-weaver spider also has two common names: Hentz orb weaver or barn spider – although this latter name can sometimes be misused for another type of creature called Araneus cavaticus.
Spotted orb weaver spider in Missouri: Description.
Typically active at night, female Spotted orb weaver spiders in Missouri may switch to a daily schedule in the fall. Females range between 0.35–0.75 inches long, while males are smaller in size.
The top of their abdomens is brown and hairy with alternating light and dark brown stripes on their legs; meanwhile, the underside displays two white spots against a black background.
The Spotted orb weaver boasts a wide array of colors and patterns but most typically displays rusty red or golden orange. Their webs are incredibly giant in circumference, often erected on artificial structures like buildings several feet above the ground level, particularly around outdoor lights.
Spotted orb weaver web and egg sac.
The Spotted orb weaver is particularly visible during late summer and early fall, with its giant web orb reaching up to 2 feet in diameter. The egg sac consists of fluffy yellow threads tucked within a rolled leaf, containing an oval-shaped or spherical egg mass that measures 0.20 – 0.45 inches across and holds as many as 1,000 eggs.
Bold jumping spiders in Missouri.
Bold Jumping spiders (Phidippus audax) are a member of the genus Phidippus. Notable features include their big eyes and iridescent chelicerae. All jumping spiders employ stereoscopic vision for hunting prey and communicating with potential partners during mating rituals. Native to North America yet found in Hawaii, the Nicobar Islands, the Azores, and The Netherlands; these black arachnids are identifiable by the white triangle on their abdomen.
Bold Jumping Spiders in Missouri are solitary hunters that rely on their impressive eyesight to track, capture and devour a range of arthropods, including caterpillars, dragonflies, and grasshoppers. It is common in agricultural areas and has also been studied to ascertain its influence on crop pest numbers. In contrast with most spiders constructing webs for prey-catching purposes, bold jumping actively hunts down their victims!
These spiders can be found in temperate climates in various terrestrial habitats, including grasslands, chaparrals, open woodlands, and agricultural fields. The bold Jumping spider is one of the most commonly occurring spider species within its range and is often found near humans. Bites from Phidippus audax are rare but may occur if they feel threatened or are mishandled. They are generally harmless, but victims must wash the area with water and mild soap if bitten.
Bold jumping spiders in Missouri: Description.
Bold jumping spiders in Missouriare unmistakable creatures – females reach up to .6 inches in body length, whereas the males strand an oval abdomen, making them easy to spot!
The Bold jumping can easily be identified by its white triangular mark in the center of its back, accompanied by two more minor spots beneath it. Its upper abdomen is also marked with a distinct lateral white band that distinguishes this species. However, what stands out most about these creatures are their tremendous and powerful legs: males have distinctive fringes on their legs and pedipalp, while females boast a longer fourth pair of legs than those found on male specimens.
The chelicerae of adult males glisten emerald green and boast spectacular markings and tufts of fur over the eyes, whereas spiderlings’ chelicerae display orange hues that gradually lighten with age. Furthermore, Bold jumping spiders in Missouri come in various sizes and colors depending on their habitat location.
American Nursery Web spider in Missouri: Identification.
American nursery web spiders in Missouri, commonly known as the nursery web spider, is unique with its hard layer of carapace that provides outer protection for the cephalothorax (head and thorax combined). It also has a moderately long abdomen, typically less than twice the length compared to the carapace. What distinguishes it from other similar species, though, is its distinct straight anterior row of eyes.
American nursery web spiders in Missouri have eight eyes, organized in two neat rows – four look at the front that make a straight line and four towards the back to form a U-shape. This is an example of sexual dimorphism; male American nursery web spiders usually have longer legs and a more considerable leg length relative to their body size than female spiders.
The patterns on the abdomen can vary significantly between individuals – some may display very distinct dark median bands. In contrast, others will feature only indistinct median bands with lateral spots arranged in two rows.
Although they often look like wolf spiders (Lycosidae) at first glance, the American nursery web spiders can be identified by its distinct two-row eye arrangement. This species is a member of the Pisaurid family and has been fascinating to arachnologists for years with its unique traits.
The American nursery web spider species is highly prevalent in eastern North America, typically dwelling among tall weeds or short shrubs at the edges of different habitats. Its hunting strategy involves a “sit-and-wait ambush predator” mentality; it stays still and uses its chelicerae (clawlike pincers) to snatch unsuspecting prey.
Tan jumping Spiders in Missouri: Description.
Like other jumping spiders, the Tan Jumping spider (Platycryptus undatus) is covered in fur and has two forward-facing goggle-like eyes that give it remarkable vision. It moves in a peculiarly jerky gait while also being gifted with extraordinary jumping abilities.
It’s spinning of silk includes creating a single tether line for additional security when exploring or traversing long distances and making cocoons to protect itself and its eggs from harm.
Females measure up to ⅝ inch in length (not including legs), while male counterparts typically reach no more than ⅜ inch.
The tan jumping spider in Missouri is highly skilled at blending into its environment, featuring grays, tans, and browns that often contain flecks of black and white plus — in some cases — a reddish hue. Its look can range from zebra-like stripes to an even, gray pattern across its body; the abdomen also typically features undulating shapes for extra camouflage.
In addition, these spiders’ bodies are unusually flattened, which further aids in their concealment when necessitated.
The tan jumping spider’s pedipalps, those finger-shaped appendages close to the face, are usually encased in fuzz and pure white. Males have chelicerae (fangs that the pedipalps may conceal) that boast long, white hairs, while female chelicerae appear black and glistening with no hair present.
Tan jumping spider in Missouri: Range
The Tan Jumping Spider in Missouri, native to the eastern USA, can often be found on vertical surfaces such as tree trunks, fences, and even walls in human dwellings. They are typically harmless but will bite if handled roughly.
If a predator is near enough, however, these agile creatures may attempt an escape by leaping away at high speed! Most commonly, though, they reside inside the peeling bark of shagbark hickories, where their eggs, too, are vulnerable to being eaten by birds or reptiles, mammals, or wasps alike.
The Triangulate cobweb spider in Missouri: Identification.
At first glance, this tiny Triangulate cobweb spider in Missouri might be easily overlooked since it tends to build its cobwebs in dark corners of households and basements. Measuring only 1/8 – ¼ inch long, the cephalothorax is brownish-orange, while each of its yellow legs contains darker sections at their tips.
The abdomen has a finely pubescent texture with shades of brown and white, triangular spots along the mid-dorsal part, and irregular markings adorn the lateral area.
Triangulate cobweb spider: Habitat.
The Triangulate cobweb spider is found in abundance locally around houses in North America, spreading rapidly since its introduction. Although rare in South America, evidence of sightings has also been recorded there.
You’ll often find these brush-footed spiders (Theridiidae family) in urban environments, near human constructions, tucked away on walls’ dark corners, around windowsills, and beneath eaves. They weave irregular webs that they hang from as a trap for their victims, using the sharp bristles of their hind legs to ensnare them with sticky silk before finally biting down when the prey is stilled.
The Triangulate cobweb spider in Missouri is a predator to be wary of, as it can often be found close to the brown recluse and common house spiders. Hiding out inside closets, crevices, and other nooks, this arachnid has been known to feast on ants, ticks, and pillbugs – not to mention its kind!
Texas dwellers should take extra care; reports indicate they may even prey upon fire ants nesting within utility equipment housings.
Broad-faced sac spider in Missouri: Description.
Female Broad-faced sac spiders in Missouri are typically .25 to .4 inches long, while their male counterparts usually never exceed .25 inches. The chelicerae and carapace have a reddish brown hue and feel hard to the touch; they also appear covered with tiny punctures.
Meanwhile, the abdomen displays an attractive pale yellow or light gray coloration, accented by the slightly darker dorsal stripe on its backside. Lastly, these arachnids possess eight legs: 4 of them (the front pair) being thicker and darker than the rest, who become increasingly thinner toward the last set that completes it all off.
The Broad-faced sac spider (Trachelas tranquillus) is a species of spider with an expansive range, from New England down to Georgia and Alabama in the south and westward to Kansas and Minnesota.
During the day, Broad-faced sac spiders in Missouri may be found wandering on foliage outdoors or hidden away within silken retreats they construct under leaf litter, stones, boards, or even windowsills and siding of buildings.
They tend to make appearances indoors during colder autumn months, but their presence does not necessarily indicate them establishing colonies inside homes.
Southern house spiders in Missouri: Description.
Male southern house spiders in Missouri may be confused with brown recluses due to their similar physical traits. But compared to the latter, these arachnids are typically larger and lack the telltale violin-shaped cephalothorax of a brown recluse. Plus, they possess unusually elongated pedipalps for added distinction.
Females can range from dark brown to black and are typically small. Males grow up to two inches across with longer legs, while their counterparts tend to have more pronounced bodies that appear velvety light gray due to fine-textured hair on the abdomen.
Southern house spiders in Missouri: Web.
Female southern house spiders in Missouri are not usually seen, as they construct radial webs around tiny crevices – a phenomenon that has earned their family (Filistatidae) the unique moniker of ‘crevice weavers.’ Females rarely move unless to seize insects stuck in their webs. Conversely, males typically roam in search of bugs and mates without any particular area.
The southern house spider is an extraordinary cribellate spider, meaning its spinnerets do not spin adhesive webbing. Instead, it utilizes its legs to comb a fuzzy and tangled netting from the cribellum – a spiked plate close to the body’s spinnerets- to ensnare insect legs and capture prey. This velcro-like material catches their feet before they can break free!
Further recommended reading about spiders.
Spider pages: Learn how to identify and avoid these spiders.