If you have found your way to this article, you must have some kind of fascination with spiders. There is a worldwide fear of spiders among people, but it’s really unfounded. Whether you’re afraid of spiders, or love them and want to learn more, you’ve come to the right place.
Most spiders are more fearful of us than we are of them, and most will not cause any kind of harm. There are a few aggressive species, but overall, they are passive and will not bite unless threatened.
Even the most venomous spiders don’t need to be feared. Clearly, we all want to avoid being bitten and any of the symptoms that come with it. But the reality is that most spiders will only bite if we threaten them first. Even then, bites are treatable as long as you seek medical help.
Quite honestly, spiders are fascinating critters that do a lot of good for the world. They help to rid us of annoying and dangerous pests that lurk about.
If you’re ready to unlearn your fear of spiders, come along. We’re going to dive into the world of spiders and learn just what makes them great.
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Most Common Types of Spiders in the World
There are thousands of kinds of spiders all over the world. Over 40,000 species have been discovered worldwide, with only 3,000 of those being found in the United States. It would be impossible to list them all here. Instead, we’ll be covering the 21 most common spiders.
House spiders, as the name suggests, like to dwell in houses and structures. Many people don’t like them and will kill them, although they can be quite useful in ridding your home of pests.
People a bit kinder may try to “rescue” the spider and place it outside. Unfortunately, although these people may have good intentions, the outdoors is not suitable for these arachnids. Most of them were born inside the house and have adapted to conditions there. If they’re placed outside, they’re not likely to know how to survive.
1. Common House Spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum)
The common house spider, or Achaearane tepidariorum, is the most common type of spider you’ll find in your home. Some people refer to these spiders as the American house spider or the domestic spider because they are seen everywhere.
They are the most common spider species in all North America. Their natural habitat ranges from the southern parts of Canada throughout the United States.
If you find cobwebs throughout your house, they’re more than likely the result of a common house spider. These spiders aren’t picky about where they create their webs. They’ll pick a spot at random, so you may find cobwebs anywhere in your house.
Because they choose their spot at random, it’s not always a good spot. Obviously, spiders want to be located where they’ll get the most food. If their web does not do well, they will quickly abandon it and choose a new location to build their web. So, if you find a cobweb and it doesn’t appear to be occupied, don’t feel bad about vacuuming it up.
2. Cellar Spider (Pholcidae)
As the name suggests, a cellar spider’s favorite place to hang out is in your cellar or basement. There are two kinds of cellar spider: the short-bodied cellar spider and the long-bodied cellar spider. Their natural habitat ranges throughout Canada and the United States.
Like we said, cellar spiders like to make their homes down in your cellar or basement. They do this because they prefer places that are dark and moist. Because of this, they can also be found in warehouses, barns, garages, or similar structures.
One common misconception about the cellar spider is that they’re venomous. Why this is a misconception, we’re not sure, but it’s undoubtedly led to the deaths of many innocent spiders.
Cellar spiders couldn’t bite a human if they wanted to. Their mouths are tiny and weak. Even if they managed to bite your skin, they wouldn’t be strong enough to break through the skin. Even if they could break skin, we would not need to worry about their venom. The venom is weak and not potent. It is not meant for humans, but for their prey.
3. Harvestmen (Opiliones)
Harvestmen, or daddy long-legs, are not actually spiders at all. We’ll still include them on the list here because they look like spiders and everyone associates them with such.
However, harvestmen are not actually spiders. Instead, they are distant relatives of the spider. They look very much like the cellar spider and are commonly confused. There is an easy way to tell the two apart though, if you’re willing to get close enough to investigate.
The easiest way to distinguish the two is to look at the shape and coloration of their bodies. Cellar spiders are yellow in color. They also have two separate body parts, one of which is a long, skinny abdomen. Their legs do not appear as spindly as that of the harvestmen.
Harvestmen also have two distinct body parts, but you couldn’t tell unless you got incredibly close. Instead, their body looks like a single, oval shaped segment. The bodies are brown or gray in coloration, and they have eight spindly legs coming from their bodies. Unlike the cellar spider, harvestmen do not have any kind of venom.
One last way to tell the two apart is where they like to dwell. As we stated, cellar spiders like to live in cool, moist environments like a basement. Harvestmen will rarely be found in places like this, and usually won’t even be in your home. Instead, they like to make their home outside in your wooded areas and gardens.
4. Jumping Spiders (Salticidae)
There are several different kinds of jumping spiders. Rather than covering them all here, we’ll simply cover the basics. All jumping spiders are part of the family Salticidae.
These spiders are hunters and they use their jumping abilities to catch prey. Many people are frightened of them because of the distance they can jump: up to 6 inches (15.24 cm), depending on the species. There really is no reason to be frightened of them, though. They’ll only jump if they’re hunting or if you’ve scared them and they’re trying to get away.
Sometimes, these spiders will find their way into your home on their own. More likely, though, they will be carried in on any firewood or plants you bring in.
Sometimes people are afraid of these spiders because of their coloration. Their abdomens sometimes have red or white markings that resemble that of a black widow. Unlike the black widow, though, jumping spiders are harmless. In fact, they’re quite beneficial because they’ll rid your house of any nasty pests.
5. Funnel Weavers (Agelenidae)
Funnel weavers are a type of spider found in the family Agelenidae. You will most likely see these spiders out and about during the fall season. They like to create large webs in your garden that become covered in frost and dew during the morning hours. You may also find them creating their webs in your window sills, doorways, or down in your cellar.
Funnel weavers are venomous, so people were afraid of them for a long time. However, researchers don’t think there is any threat to humans. Some people have more of a sensitivity to them than others, but the likelihood is that you’ll be okay. Like most spiders, funnel weavers aren’t thought to be toxic to humans. They use their venom to catch prey.
6. Wolf Spiders (Lycosidae)
These spiders are part of the family Lycosidae and are found throughout North America above Mexico.
Wolf spiders are so large and hairy that people sometimes confuse them for tarantulas. These spiders are so large that they spend their lives hunting on their own rather than constructing a web. The silk likely would not support their body weight. Instead, wolf spiders run about looking for food and shelter.
Although they look scary, you won’t have to worry about seeing too many of them. For the most part, they like to stay outdoors. They are also nocturnal, so you shouldn’t see much of them in your backyard either.
House Spiders with Venomous Bites
There are some spiders that you may find in or around your home with venomous bites. Although there is a possibility that you could be bitten, it’s really not likely. The majority of spiders are non-aggressive. They are more frightened by you than you are of them. They prefer to save their venom for their next meal rather than wasting it on self-defense.
7. Sac Spiders (Cheiracanthium inclusum)
Sac spiders are part of the family Miturgidea. They are commonly found in and around the home. You won’t see them often because they are nocturnal and prefer to hide during the day. They set up camp in the corners of rooms, creating silky webs that look tent-like. They will hide and sleep in these “tents” during the day, only emerging at night.
It is hard to give you a good physical description of sac spiders because they all look so differently. Their colors vary drastically from one spider to another. Their colors range so widely that they are often mistaken for other species of spiders.
Sac spiders are poisonous to humans because they contain cytotoxins: a substance toxic to cells. You’ll want to keep your distance from these critters, but they’re not all that dangerous to humans. If bitten, you’ll be left with a painful, red welt at the site of the bite. The red welt will hurt for a longer time than most wounds, and it’ll take longer to heal.
Still, sac spiders do not contain the kind of venom that will kill you.
It’s not really necessary to remove these guys from your home because they are non-aggressive and like to hide from people. However, if their venomous nature makes you nervous, you can remove them with a broom or vacuum.
8. Brown Spiders (Loxosceles)
Brown spiders are part of the Sicariidae family. They also go by the names fiddle-back or violin spider. Most of these spiders are harmless, but the group does include the brown recluse spider. The brown recluse spider is quite venomous and is the most dangerous spider in the Loxosceles species.
Unfortunately, although most brown spiders are harmless, it’s difficult to tell them apart. Brown spiders all look very similarly in markings and coloration. Because of this, if you see a brown spider, it’s better to stay away.
Like sac spiders, brown spiders are not aggressive and are very unlikely to bite. The only time they will usually bite is if they find themselves pinned up against skin, which is not a likely occurrence.
Usually, if someone is bitten by one of these spiders, it happens when they’re doing activities like dressing. This can cause the spider to become pinned up against hands, arms, and feet. The best way to avoid this is to shake out any clothing before you put it on. Also take care before reaching into any dark spaces like cupboards, and always wear gloves.
Brown recluse spiders are most commonly found in the midwestern and southern parts of the United States. They like to live outdoors in areas good for hiding. This includes in debris piles, under bark or raked leaves, under stones, and inside wood piles. However, they do like to be inside as well and can be found in storage areas, attics, and closets.
Symptoms of a brown recluse bite might not set-in for hours after you’ve received it. However, if you think you’ve been bitten by a recluse, seek medical attention immediately. Apply ice to the bite and elevate the limb that was bitten.
If left untreated for a while, the bite of a brown recluse can cause some serious complications. The venom is strong enough to destroy skin tissue surrounding the bite area. This can lead to skin lesions or necrosis.
9. Widow Spiders (Latrodectus)
These are not one of the most common house spiders, however, they are cause for concern. We would like to cover widow spiders here so that you will know what to look for should you ever come across one. More than likely, you will never see a widow spider in your home, but it’s still a good idea to know what to look out for.
Widow spiders come in a range of colors, so the color of their body is not always the best indicator to know if you’ve found a widow spider. The most common colors of these spiders are brown and black.
How you can know that you’ve found a widow spider is by the reddish-orange hourglass shape that is displayed on the underside of their abdomen. There are also false widows. These look identical to black widows, but are completely harmless. Still, it’s difficult to tell which one you’ve come across. So, if you see one, it’s best to steer clear.
People are so fearful of black widow spiders because of the powerful toxin they carry. Still, it’s not likely that you’ll ever be bitten by one. They are very shy and non-aggressive. They like to hide in areas where people and animals don’t frequent. Once they have found a suitable home, they are not likely to leave it.
The time period when a black widow is most dangerous is when they’re laying eggs or guarding the egg sac. If you come across them then, they may be enticed to bite you to protect their eggs. Still, they’re not likely to bite you unless you approach them first.
If you live in an area where black widows are common, it’s important to protect yourself. If you need to reach into small, dark areas like a cupboard or woodpile, you’ll want to wear gloves.
Largest Spiders in the World
There are some truly giant spiders in the world, some friendlier than others. If you’re scared of spiders, you’ll likely never want to come across these.
10. Goliath Birdeater (Theraphosa blondi)
The Goliath birdeater, or Theraphosa blondi, is the world’s largest spider. It can reach up to 12 inches (30.48 cm) in length and can weigh up to 6.2 ounces (170.66 g). The birdeater is a kind of tarantula that has some venom in its bite. However, the bite is nothing to be worried about for humans as it’s similar in intensity to a wasp sting.
Rather than its venom, you should be more fearful of the barbed hairs that protrude from its bodies. These hairs can become lodged in the skin and eyes. They will produce itching and irritation which can last for days even after you’ve removed the hair. There is one simple way to avoid this, however — simply leave the spider alone.
As its name suggests, this spider is large enough that it commonly eats birds. Although it can eat these huge meals, it is no threat to humans because it’s quite scared of us. In fact, humans are a threat to these spiders because locals will catch the spider to cook and eat it. Those that have eaten it say that it tastes like shrimp.
You can find these spiders in the rainforests and swamps of northern South America where it likes to burrow. Some people even like to keep these spiders as a pet.
11. Giant Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae)
The giant huntsman spider, or the Heteropoda maxima, looks larger than the bird eater because of its long legs. Although, they reach approximately the same size at 12 inches (30.48 cm) long. Their legs appear twisted, making them walk similarly to a crab.
These spiders are different from the birdeater in that their venom can be quite dangerous to humans. If you are bitten by one of these spiders, you will need to go to the hospital for treatment.
These spiders are found only in a cave in Laos. However, there are smaller relatives that live in warm, temperate regions across the planet.
12. Grammostola anthracina
You’ll find these spiders in South America where they can grow to be over 10 inches (25.4 cm) and they live long up to 20 years. People in this region love to keep this tarantula as a pet because it’s very passive. It is not likely to bite at all.
If you visit Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, or Argentina, keep an eye out for these enormous spiders.
13. Columbian Giant Tarantula
The Columbian giant tarantula, or the Megaphobema robustum, is found in tropical rainforests in Brazil and Columbia. It can reach sizes of 6-8 inches (15.24 cm -20.32cm), making it large enough to eat mice, lizards, and large insects.
Unlike most spiders, this tarantula is quite aggressive, although you don’t need to worry about their bite. If the spider feels threatened, they will begin to spin in a circle where they’ll strike out at you with their legs. This can be quite painful as they have spikes on their rear legs that can spear you.
This is another tarantula that is commonly kept as a pet. If you’re interested in keeping one, you’ll likely find it in your local pet store.
14. Face-Sized Tarantula (Poecilotheria rajaei)
The face-sized tarantula, or Poecilotheria rajaei, can be found in Sri Lanka and India. It likes to hide out in old-growth trees or inside old buildings.
Unfortunately, this tarantula has had to deal with deforestation of its habitat in Sri Lanka, but it has learned to adapt. Where old-growth trees are not available, they simply move into old, abandoned buildings.
This spider can grow up to 8 inches (20.32 cm), roughly the size of a human face. Because of its large size, it likes to eat birds, rodents, lizards, and snakes.
15. Hercules and King Baboon Spider (Hysterocrates hercules)
The Hercules baboon spider is actually thought to be extinct. The only known specimen was caught in Nigeria about one hundred years ago. Today, it can be found in the Natural History Museum of London.
The spider received its name because of its resemblance to baboons. Researchers say that the hairy legs of the spider look very much like the fingers of a baboon.
Although the Hercules baboon spider is now extinct, we do still have the king baboon spider. The king baboon spider, or Pelinobius muticus, can grow up to 8 inches (20.32 cm) and lives in East Africa. These spiders are native to Africa and they have a strong venom.
These spiders are also commonly kept as pets, although they’re not recommended for beginners. They seem to always be angry and aggressive. Because they do contain venom, you won’t want to become bitten by them.
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The Smallest Spiders in the World
Just as there are massive spiders all throughout the world, there are also some very small spiders. Some of these spiders are so small and fluffy in appearance that you might argue that they’re cute.
16. Patu Digua
The Patu Digua spider is the smallest spider in the world. The largest spider of this species that scientists have studied measured at only 0.43mm (0.016 inches). They are so small that you cannot even see them without a magnifying glass.
This spider is part of the family symphytognathidae and can be found across parts of West Africa along the Ivory coast.
Despite its size, this spider has a well-developed nervous system that can be found in 80% of its body. They also have a developed brain so large that it takes up 25% of the body.
17. Himalayan Spider (Euophrys omnisuperstes)
The Himalaya spider, or Maevia Inclemens, is one of the smallest spiders on the planet. Although this spider is also miniscule, it dwarfs the Patu Digua. Males grow up to 5mm (0.19 inches) while the females grow up to 6mm (0.23 inches).
Surprisingly, this tiny spider was found on Everest. Its scientific name translates to “living above everyone else”, and for good reason.
18. Marpissa Muscosa
This spider is slightly bigger than the last, reaching up to 8mm (0.31 inches ) in length. It is found across the Palaearctic and is considered very charismatic. Some of its charismatic nature is due to the fine hair that covers its whole body, looking and feeling similar to moss. The body is a variety of grays and browns.
These spiders can be found in northern Africa, Europe, and some parts of Russia. It likes to live in dead trees where it creates its nest.
19. Ant Spider-Horse (Leptomyrmex erythrocephalus)
This spider is quite unique in appearance. Although it is classified as a spider, it looks more like an ant. It only reaches 12mm (0.47 inches) in length, but it’s well-known for its jumping ability. It also has wonderful eyesight to help it hunt. Some scientists even believe that this spider is incredibly intelligent.
These spiders can be found all over the world. In 1975, they were found on top of Mt. Everest, similar to the Marpissa Muscosa spider. Not only was it found on Mt. Everest, but it was found at an elevation of 6,500 meters (3.28 ft) above sea level.
20. European Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus)
Many people believe that this spider is dangerous to humans, but this is a myth. It is venomous — that’s true — but it’s hardly toxic to humans. Instead, it saves its venom for its prey like rats, mice, and other small animals.
These spiders are quite peaceful and don’t bite, but some people still find them to be a nuisance. They prefer living outside where there is lots of humidity. Because of this, they are commonly found in gardens that grow close to bodies of water. If you’re afraid of spiders, but love the water…this could be an inconvenience.
These spiders grow up to 25mm (0.98 inches), although the males will not exceed 11mm (0.43 inches). On the back of the spider forms a cross made out of white spots.
The Deadliest Spider in the World
“Deadliest” doesn’t necessarily mean deadly to humans. In fact, we’ve already covered some of the deadliest spiders. Brown recluse will only cause death to humans if we let our bites become infected or go untreated. Black widow bites are similar; you will usually only die if you allow the bite to go untreated.
In fact, the world’s “deadliest” spiders are usually only deadly to other animals, and we’ve covered quite a few here. Still, we thought it best to cover the one spider that is truly deadly to humans.
21. Brazilian Wandering Spiders
The Brazilian wandering spider, Phoneutria fera and P. nigriventer, are considered to be the deadliest spiders in the world. They are sometimes referred to as the banana spider because they are most commonly found on the leaves of bananas.
If you’re bit by one of these spiders, you’re going to experience some serious side effects. Their venom is highly toxic to the nervous system. When bitten, you will begin to salivate and you will have irregular heartbeats. Men that are bitten may experience prolonged, painful erections.
Their venom can be quite deadly to humans, although you should be fine if you receive the antivenom in time.
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Classification of Spiders
Every kind of spider is classified scientifically. What makes a spider a spider is that they will have two body parts and eight walking legs. The head and the thorax are combined as one body segment. The second body segment is made up of the abdomen.
Each leg has seven segments, and many spiders have two claws on each of their legs. Spiders will have a hard, outer shell called an exoskeleton. They will not have any antennae, but will have two appendages near their mouth that they use to trick their prey.
Here is the scientific order of the spider:
Spider Life Cycle
As with any animal, spiders will go through different stages of their life cycle. Below is the basic life cycle of a spider. Their life occurs in four parts:
These will develop inside a sac-like substance where they’re protected.
After mating is finished, the females keep the spermatophores inside them until they are ready to lay their eggs. Depending on the species of spider, the female may lay only a few eggs up to thousands. In the beginning, each egg will be wrapped in its own sac made of silk.
This is where all the eggs are held and protected until they are ready for hatching.
The mother spider will then create a larger egg sack that surrounds each individual egg. This larger sac will keep all of the eggs together and will protect them from the elements and predators. Some species of spiders will carry the egg sac on their back, while others will store the sac in a safe location.
After a few weeks, the eggs will begin to hatch.
These look like miniatures of the adult spider.
When they first emerge from the egg sac, the juveniles will immediately begin to travel. Some species will simply scuttle away, while others will “fly” away on their silk.
They will go through 5-10 molts until they reach adulthood.
These are full-grown spiders who are ready to mate and begin the cycle again.
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What Do Spiders Eat
What exactly a spider will eat depends on what kind of spider it is. All spiders are carnivorous, but the kind of food they eat depends on where they live and how big they are. Here is a general guide for what most spiders will feed on:
Flies, moths, mosquitoes, etc
Grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, etc. These spiders are more aggressive in their hunting, and they need to be since they have to catch their prey with their “bare hands”. Generally, they will camouflage themselves until the prey appears, and then they will attack.
Lizards, frogs, birds, etc. These larger spiders are usually too big to build webs, so they stick to hunting. Because they’re larger, they also have bigger appetites that insects simply won’t satisfy.
It should also be noted that spiders like to feed on their prey fresh. They are not likely to feed on prey that has been dead for a long time. They are hunters, not scavengers, and they like their meals fresh.
Other spiders are very picky and will refuse to eat anything other than their favorite prey. This makes hunting more difficult, and they need to be more diligent about finding their food.
We stated above that all spiders are carnivorous, but there is one exception. The Bagheera kiplingi is a spider in Central America who eats plant material. Their favorite meal is the nectar from the Acacia tree. Unlike other spiders, these critter’s digestive systems have adapted to break down the sugar, proteins, and fats that come along with the nectar.
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Spiders’ Natural Predators
Although spiders are predators themselves, many are quite small. There are a lot of animals out there that love to feast on small critters like spiders and insects. Here are some of the most common predators of spiders:
Geckos and chameleons are two of the most common species of lizard that like to eat spiders. Lizards are voracious eaters who can decimate a population of spiders in a matter of moments.
Lizards were introduced to the Bahama Islands to control invasive orb spiders. In only 5 short years, the entire population of orb spiders was eradicated.
Birds love to eat spiders of all kinds, minus the very large species, such as tarantulas. In the United States, robins and wrens are the two birds that most frequently make a meal of spiders.
Don’t let the name fool you — these are not actually hawks. These creatures are wasps, but have earned the name “hawk” for the way they hunt spiders down. They will go after spiders that like to burrow, and they are quite smart about it.
They will “knock” on the web of the spider to lure it out of its safe space. When the spider appears, the wasp will sting it and paralyze it. They will then drag the spider down into its own den where it will feed.
These wasps are related to the tarantula hawk, but they are much larger. They will also sting and paralyze the spider to feed.
Although it’s not likely that a spider will make up the main diet of a monkey, there are some species that like to eat them as snacks.
If you are afraid of spiders, chances are that you’ll also be afraid of centipedes. However, if you’re not, you can leave the centipede alone in your home and let them take care of your spider population. Centipedes are carnivores that will use their claws to paralyze and eat spiders.
Although many people are just as fearful of scorpions as they are of spiders, they are good for getting rid of spiders.
Some spiders are cannibalistic and will eat other spiders. This is generally a good thing for humans because it is usually the non-threatening spiders that will eat the more venomous spiders.
A wide variety of spiders call America their home, inhabiting the lands of the continent. Discover more spider species in different states in the links below:
You may also like to read the different animal categories some of the spider species belong to: