There are more than 50,300 types of spiders in the world today. That number continues to grow every year. And those spiders consume between 400 and 800 billion tons of prey every year.
Although spiders may seem fearsome due to their multiple eyes and arachnid legs, only a few species should be feared for the painful and hazardous stings they can leave behind.
Why not take some time to familiarize yourself with common spider varieties, including details on their habitats and behaviors? That way, you’ll know what to do in case of an unexpected encounter!
What do all the types of spiders have in common?
With more than 50,300 types of spiders in the world today, these creatures come in various shapes and sizes. To help you differentiate between spiders and other insects, here are three standard features that all spiders share:
- Eight legs;
- Six to eight eyes;
- Two distinct body regions- cephalothorax and abdomen-with males often being smaller with different color markings from females.
Common types of spiders.
Although it would be virtually impossible to list all species of spiders, here are some familiar ones you might come across.
Types of spiders: Wolf spider.
The wolf spider is a perfectly camouflaged, hairy, and wickedly fast pursuer of its prey. Just like the wolf it is named after. However, as scary as they look, the wolf spider does not pack as dangerous a bite as once believed.
Let’s take a close-up look at the wolf spider, learn how to identify it, and discover some interesting facts about how it manages to live just about everywhere in the world.
Wolf spider: Description.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the wolf spider 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.
Jumping spider types.
Jumping types of spiders: Description.
Jumping types of spiders are spiders in the family Salticidae, consisting of over 6,000 species and making it the most prominent family of spiders. 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.
And, of course, there are the eyes of the 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.
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How jumping spiders hunt their prey.
Other jumping spiders use the spider version of the “still hunting.” Still hunting is used by bear hunters who continually move, stop, scan, and move again.
Jumping spiders prefer to ambush their prey instead of running after them and chasing them down. To do this, jumping spiders are willing to take the less traveled road. They will take meandering routes climbing trees and branches and circling behind the vegetation, even to the point where they lose visual contact with their target.
Ground types of spiders.
Generally, ground types of spiders are characterized by having barrel-shaped anterior spinnerets that are one spinneret diameter apart. The main exception to this rule is found in the ant-mimicking genus Micaria. Another characteristic is an indentation in the endites (paired mouthparts anterior and lateral to the labium, or lip).
All ground spiders lack a prey-capture web and generally run prey down on the surface. They hunt at night and spend the day in a silken retreat.
The Variegated Ground Spider: Description of one type of ground spider.
The male Serfiolus capulatus, better known as the Variegated Ground spider, has a body length of approximately one-fourth inch. At the same time, females are marginally larger, with their total body lengths ranging from one-fourth to slightly less than one-half inch.
The cephalothorax and the portion of each leg nearest to its torso display an orange hue. Its abdomen, however, is black and decorated with white bands for a unique look.
Variegated ground spider: Hunting style.
The Variegated ground spider hunts like many ground types of spiders, slyly stalking its prey, first trying to establish physical contact. Then, if successful, it can gauge whether or not the meal will be easy to capture without a struggle by ensnaring their victim in an immobilizing “leg basket.” But when necessary, this predator takes no chances and quickly binds their quarry’s legs and mouth with thick strands of sticky silk.
Ground spiders construct a sac from special threads to protect their eggs; just like the Clubionid species, females stay close by until hatching. Additionally, these industrious creatures create intricate mesh-like shelters of woven silk to rest and retreat when they’re not actively hunting for food.
Types of spiders: Sac spiders.
A great example of the sac type of spider is the Yellow sac spider.
Yellow sac spiders are aggressive, prey-chasing night hunters. They do not sit on a web and wait for something to fall into it, the pursue every meal. As befits true hunters, they are willing to take on prey larger than themselves, even other spiders like the hobo spider.
Outdoors, you’ll find the yellow sac spider in agricultural fields, gardens, and rockeries. During daylong, the spiders will be tucked into retreats (woven silk sanctuaries) to rest. These retreats will be inside piles of organic debris, in curled-up leaves, and under outdoor furniture.
The Cheiracanthium inclusum species of Yellow sac spiders do not intentionally seek out human-occupied spaces. Cheiracanthium mildei does, however, make frequent and regular retreats and lay eggs inside human residences. However, the colder temperatures of the fall often push these spiders into your warmer home.
Once inside, they will build their tiny retreats right where your ceiling meets a wall. And, with many homes painted in lighter colors, these retreats can remain unnoticed for a very long time.
If you get bit by a spider, the odds are it was one of the Yellow sac spiders that did it. Various species live in Japan, North America, Europe, the Americas, and South Africa. However, in the United States, except for a few Northern states, the Cheiracanthium inclusum and Cheiracanthium mildei reign supreme.
Something of a blessing for farmers and gardeners for their otherwise free pest control; they are a bit venomous. Though they are beneficial predators in agricultural fields, they are also known to be mildly venomous to humans.
However, if you avoid their painful bite and have time to take a few precautions to prevent them, Yellow sac spiders are an overall benefit to humanity.
Why do some sac types of spiders bite people?
A sac spider in a nearly camouflaged retreat on the ceiling above your head is no threat to you. However, while you are sleeping, things can get a little dicey at night.
As it gets dark, the yellow sac spider leaves its retreat in search of garden pests and other spiders that are not too numerous in your home. As the spider undertakes its night-long search, it sometimes finds itself on your bed, between your sheets, inside your clothing, or down in your boots.
Unfortunately, when your movements threaten to trap or crush the sac spider, it bites you in self-defense.
Are sac spider type bites dangerous?
The bite of a Yellow sac spider is painful and comparable to that of a wasp sting. If you are not allergic and can positively identify the source of the injury as that of the Yellow sac spider, it is not a medically significant wound.
You can expect the pain to last for a few hours and some swelling. Use proper first aid for a spider bite to treat the wound and prevent infection.
Some sac types of spiders do produce very painful bites.
The Broad-faced sac spider has been known to deliver an excruciating bite, which can lead to serious secondary infections. It is thought that the cause of these reactions may be linked to the arthropods this species commonly feeds on. After being bitten by a Broad-faced sac spider, many experience pain and redness similar in intensity to bee or wasp stings. However, a much more severe reaction with potential systemic effects could occur for individuals sensitive to venom from insects.
Crab types of spiders.
The crab type of spider 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 types of spiders can change their color over time.
Crab types of spiders 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.
I won’t list them as actual predators later, so for now, I will point out that my chickens hunt them down like coyotes after rabbits.
Crab types of spdiers: Identification.
Crab types of spiders 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 type of spider 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 types spider 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 types of 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.
Dangerous types of spiders.
Black widows: The most dangerous type of spider?
Black widow types of spiders (Northern, Southern, Western) 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.
Brown widow: The false widow type of spider.
The color of the brown widow spider (Latrodectus geometricus) is a mix of brown and tan spots and smears with contrasting black marks. It also has a black-and-white geometric pattern on the dorsal side of its abdomen, three diagonal stripes on each side, and bands on its legs. A prominent black mark is on the top of the diagonal stripes.
Brown widow spider bites: Effects and symptoms.
According to this study: Black and brown widow spider bites in South Africa.
“The bite of the brown widow spider usually causes a mild form of envenomation characterised chiefly by local symptoms and signs. Most adult patients complain of a local burning sensation which often spreads to the regional lymph nodes.
Paraesthesiae in the surrounding skin and stiffness of the local muscles are often described. In a small percentage of patients abdominal and general muscular pain, as well as weakness in the legs, are experienced. On examination the bite site can usually be identified. It often manifests as a red macular spot or centrally blanched area surrounded by a 2 – 3 cm eryiliematous reaction.
Occasionally there is localised increase in sweat secretion in the form of small droplets. A low-grade raised temperature is sometimes noted. The condition is self-limiting and usually clears up within 1 – 2 days, although some patients may experience a feeling of local discomfort for an extended period.
Children may present with hyperactivity or restlessness and are more inclined to develop symptoms and signs of systemic envenomation.”
Types of spiders: Brown recluse.
Unlike many types of spiders in our homes, sheds, and garages, brown recluse spiders are not harmless. Indeed, they are beneficial, to an extent, as acting as insect and pest control. However, their bites can cause severe medical reactions.
And a word about using the so-called “fiddle back” or “violin” marking on the brown recluse spider’s dorsum; I’ve never seen it, not in close-ups or in person.
I think it would be better described as a wine glass with a long stem and small base—with the cup pouring the wine on top of the spider’s head. Either way, too many species of spider have such markings. Fortunately, there is a more straightforward way to identify brown recluse spiders.
Positively identifying the Brown recluse type of spider.
Identifying brown recluse types of spiders 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 to, 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 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 close-up 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.
When you get to the hospital, you can use the picture to help diagnose why you are shrieking in agony and convulsing on their table. Just kidding, we’ll talk more about the bite of brown recluse spiders later.
The slanting legs of the brown recluse spider.
Brown recluse spiders are rather plain with uniformly tan or brown abdomens, but their legs (which lack spines, as noted above) are covered in fine hairs. In addition, these legs are slanted (hence the scientific name Loxosceles meaning, well, slanted legs in Latin).
Brown recluse soldiers do not walk funny; instead, the rest with their legs slanted.
The bite and symptoms of brown recluse spiders.
You must stick your hand in a brown recluse spider web or seriously disturb one to receive a bite.
However, accidents do happen. For example, if a brown recluse spider bites you, you can expect the pain to range from mild to severe after a few hours.
Less than 10% of bites from brown recluse spiders cause any real tissue damage (there is no anti-venom available yet), but most bites heal and do not leave scars—even if medical attention is not sought.
Of course, everyone reacts differently to spider bites, so treat with first aid, collect the spider if possible, and seek immediate medical attention.
Funnel-web types of spiders.
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 types of 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.
Sydney funnel-web spider bites.
The Sydney funnel-web spider is a type of spider that will let you know when threatened or provoked by rearing up on its back legs and displaying its fangs. If it must defend itself by biting, the Sydney funnel-web spider will retain a grip on you and keep biting.
Since 1981 antivenom has been available to treat victims, but treatment must be immediately sought as envenomation can begin within 30 minutes. In addition, small children suspected of being bitten must receive immediate medical treatment as death can occur within 15 minutes without it.
Symptoms of Sydney funnel-web envenomation include: “Facial paresthesias, nausea, vomiting, profuse diaphoresis, drooling, and shortness of breath. In addition, patients may become agitated, confused, and ultimately comatose.
“This is associated with hypertension, metabolic acidosis, dilated pupils, muscle twitching, and pulmonary and cerebral edema. Death results from pulmonary edema or progression to hypotension and circulatory collapse.”