Spiders of NNY
American House Spider: The American house spider is the most commonly seen species of cobweb spider found around homes. Most cobweb spiders can be identified by their large, round, shiny abdomens, relatively thin legs, and their tendency to hang upside down in messy cobwebs that are attached to the structure by a few sticky threads. The webs are built where there is protection from the elements. Female cobweb spiders produce light brown, spherical egg sacs that hang in the web. The venomous black widow spider with its shiny, black abdomen and red hour-glass design is a cobweb spider, but is extremely rare in New York.
Cellar Spiders: Cellar spiders have extremely long, delicate legs and a narrow, elongated body. They hang upside down in a very loose web of disorganized threads on walls close to the ceiling of homes. After laying a cluster of about a dozen eggs, the female wraps it with a few strands of silk and carries it in her fangs. When threatened,many species rapidly gyrate in the web and become an almost invisible blur. It is an urban legend that these spiders are extremely poisonous.
Wolf Spider: Wolf spiders are named for their tendency to be slightly furry, brown or grey spiders that run after their prey. They have long sturdy legs and good vision from two of their eight enlarged eyes. The abundant wolf spiders forage on the ground or in the lower parts of plants at night. Female wolf spiders carry light-colored, spherical egg sacs attached to their spinnerets. Once hatched, the spiderlings cling to hairs on their mother’s abdomen for about a week. When you go out at night, look at the ground in front of you with a flashlight held next to your head at the same level as your eyes. You can see many silvery blue-green spots reflecting back at you from the eyes of numerous wolf spiders in the grass.
Daddy-Long-Legs or "Harvestmen": Harvestmen (or "daddy-long-legs") and ticks are not true spiders, but spider relatives. All three types of animals are arachnids, but harvestmen and ticks have only one body segment, whereas spiders have two. Harvestmen have oval bodies and long, thin legs. They are omnivores that hunt small insects, scavenge on decaying material, or feed on plant juices. They do not have venom, but can produce a foul smelling scent. Ticks are external parasites that suck blood from reptiles, birds or mammals. They are typically flat with very short legs that barely protrude beyond the body. If they have recently taken a blood meal, the body may swell up to the size of a lima bean.
Jumping Spiders: Jumping spiders are easily identified by their large eyes, squat bodies and sturdy legs. They are very intelligent, colorful spiders with distinct personalities. Jumping spiders have excellent vision and will often turn to look at you as you approach. They hunt during the day, eating insects and other spiders. They get their name from their ability to jump impressive distances while searching in vegetation or catching prey. Before jumping, these spiders will touch their abdomens to the ground to tack down their draglines.That way if they miss their destination, their spinnerets clamp the silk so they only fall a short distance. When jumping spiders see prey that they cannot jump onto directly, they are known to take a detour route through the vegetation to put them into a position above the intended prey. Male jumping spiders court females by moving their brightly colored chelicerae, palps or leg tufts. In autumn, many jumping spiders build silken retreats in goldenrod plants, windowsills, or mailboxes.
Sac Spiders: Sac spiders are typically light colored spiders with noticeably protruding spinnerets and dark fangs. They weave small silk sacs under rocks or loose bark that they use for sleeping retreats and rearing young. Sac spiders lack capture webs, and wander in vegetation and occasionally in homes looking for prey. There are two family groups of sac spiders. Two species of small, pale, yellow spiders, called yellow sac spiders and C. inclusum, are the only spiders in New York that are moderately poisonous to humans. They have necrotic venom that causes itchy or painful ulcerating sores that are slow to heal. In New York, bites attributed to brown recluse spiders are almost certainly from yellow sac spiders.
Funnel Web or Grass Spiders: Grass spiders build sturdy, non-sticky sheet webs with a few "knock down" threads on top of vegetation. One corner of the sheet tapers into a silken funnel where the spider waits facing outward for insect prey to land on the sheet. Once an insect lands, the spider dashes out on top of the sheet and bites the prey before it can take off again. Grass spiders are about three quarters of an inch long, with brown bodies and long conspicuous spinnerets. They can be spotted on low hedges or evergreen plantings around buildings.
Crab Spiders: Crab spiders get their name from the way they hold their legs out to their sides and walk with a crab-like scuttle. The first two pair of legs are often greatly enlarged, making them even more crab-like in appearance. These spiders do not build webs, but wait motionless for prey to come within close range. Many species hunt on flowers for insects, such as bees, flies, and butterflies, using their fast-acting, powerful venom to quickly paralyze them. Many crab spiders are capable of camouflaging themselves to match the flower’s color by changing their color to white, yellow, or pink over several days. One of the best ways to find these spiders is to look on flowers for immobile insects situated at an odd angle. Upon closer inspection you will see the insect in the jaws of a crab spider.
Brown Recluse Spiders: Although all spiders are capable of biting, most spider bites cause little harm to humans. However, bites from spiders such as the brown recluse can result in necrosis of tissue. Long-legged and yellow-tan in color, brown recluse spiders of both genders are best distinguished by a fiddle-shaped pattern on the cephalothorax and six eyes arranged in pairs. Both characters must be seen, since other spiders may only posses one or the other. They are also referred to as fiddleback spiders due to a distinctive marking on the thorax, which resembles a violin. Brown recluses have uniformly colored legs and abdomens; so any spider exhibiting distinct color variations and patterning on the legs or abdomen is not a brown recluse. They dwell in dark, sheltered places and can be found in homes, barns and basements. Brown recluse spiders are shy and rarely bite unless provoked. Bites usually go unnoticed until effects manifest a few hours later. Most bites become red and fade away, but in uncommon cases necrosis or tissue damage can occur. A medical professional should be consulted if there are medical concerns. Many conditions are mistakenly diagnosed as brown recluse spider bites, including Lyme disease, diabetic ulcers, reactions to medication and bacterial infections. Although urban myth purports that they are found throughout the U.S., studies have shown otherwise. Brown recluse spiders are endemic only to the American South and Midwest. Relocation of the brown recluse can occur in boxes or items moved from its native range. These usually are isolated events and do not result in an entire area becoming infested.
Black Widow Spiders: Black widows are identified by the red hourglass marking on the underside of their abdomens. Black widows are shiny black in color. Females are larger than males. They favor dark, secluded areas such as crevices and woodpiles. They thrive primarily in temperate zones and are known to be abundant in the American South. Several species are present in North America. The most common are: the southern widow (Latrodectus mactans) found in the American South and Northeast; Latrodectus hesperus found in the west; the brown widow (Latrodectus geometricus) found in the South; and the northern widow (Latrodectus variolus) found in the Northeast. Black widows produce messy, irregular webs. Webs usually are located near ground level and under a protected ledge such as under lawn furniture or wood piles. The female with the iconic red hourglass marking also indicates their presence. Black widow spider females earned their name for rumor that they kill and eat males after mating. This behavior does occur, as it often does in many spider species. However, the males are not always eaten and often survive to mate again.