Most spiders in Massachusetts are not venomous. Confirmed identification of spider species in the state is common. Almost 40 different spiders are seen in Massachusetts every year. A few of these are to be highly avoided due to their toxic venom
Are There Venomous Spiders In Massachusetts?
Reports on venomous spiders in Massachusetts are rare. However, the state is home to the Northern Black Widow, one of the most venomous spiders in the country, and the brown widow. Mildly venomous spiders such as the False Black Widow are also reported in the state.
32 Common Spiders In Massachusetts
1. Tan Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Platycryptus undatus.
Common name: tan jumping spider.
The Tan Jumping Spider is a common sight in Massachusetts. This spider is known for its tall flattened body which always makes it look different from a classic spider. It has distinctive markings on the abdomen which can make it hard to see on mottled surfaces.
This spider is not afraid of humans and it doesn’t run away when seeing people. This is why it’s a common sight around the state. You can hold it in your hands without trouble. The spider rarely bites. But its bites are considered defensive and harmless to humans.
2. Bold Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Phidippus audax.
Common name: daring jumping spider, bold jumping spider.
The Bold Jumping Spider is the most popular Jumping spider in Massachusetts. It has a black body with white stripes. Some spiders have further orange or light blue coloration. The male Bold Jumping Spider has an average body length of 8mm. The female is larger, with an 11mm body size average.
The spider isn’t venomous nor dangerous. However, it causes pain when biting humans. Its habitat rarely relies on humans, however.
The spider is an avid jumper and an excellent hunter based on its strong thick legs. It pounces on prey (typically smaller insects) instead of building a spider web as a means of hunting.
3. American Nursery Web Spider
Scientific name: Pisaurina mira.
Common name: American nursery web spiders.
This common spider is often mistaken for a Wolf spider. It has a brown body with yellow stripes and two rows of eyes compared to Wolf spiders.
The American Nursery Web Spider is a hunting spider living close to water sources. It’s almost always seen in vegetation around woodlands or close to water sources.
The spider is always moving around looking for food except during the mating period. The American Nursery Web Spider is known for its cannibalistic mating habits. The female tries to kill the male spider after mating if unrestrained. The male spider uses silk to tie the legs of the female to avoid being eaten by the female.
The female American Nursery Web spider doesn’t manage to kill the male in most situations. The male then moves on to find other female mating partners during the same mating season. The female remains alone building a protective web for her eggs in thick vegetation and leaves.
4. Orchard Orbweaver
Scientific name: Leucauge venusta.
Common name: orchard orbweaver.
The common spider is often found in similar habitats as the American Nursery Web Spider. Both tend to like woodlands and the edge of the woods where they can look for prey in open spaces. The Orchard Orweaver is also very common in orchards, as its name suggests.
You can recognize this spider by its leafy green legs and body. Its striped body makes it stand out when sitting on green shrubs as this would be impossible to see without these white-silver stripes.
Unlike the American Nursery Web Spider, the Orchard Orweaver likes to build spider webs. These webs are created in vegetation using its spinnerets. You can recognize the final spider web through its central hub of loops. This hub is separated clearly from the rest of the web and it’s the place the spider spends most of its time.
5. Common House Spider
Scientific name: Parasteatoda tepidariorum.
Common name: common house spider, American house spider.
The Common House Spider has largely been studied in captivity. Research shows the complex nature of this spider from habitat to mating. It lives its life according to very specific rules. The Common House Spider is one of the few species where the male and the female can live in harmony on the same spider web at the same time. Only female Common House Spiders can enter into a conflict with one another.
This spider eats all types of small insects and invertebrates. Like numerous other cobweb spiders, it prefers to build a web that traps these small insects. The Common House Spider relies on web vibrations to detect whenever these insects have been caught in the web.
6. Yellow Garden Spider
Scientific name: Argiope aurantia
Common name: yellow garden spider, black and yellow garden spider, golden garden spider, writing spider, zigzag spider, zipper spider, black and yellow argiope, corn spider, Steeler spider, McKinley spider.
The Yellow Garden Spider is recognized by its black-yellow coloring. Part of the Argiope genus, this spider is part of a wide species of spiders with striking coloration. Females of the species can often be found in gardens around the state. It’s here that they build their spider webs.
The spider web is of a zigzag pattern. The female spider builds this distinct web to trap insects. When trapped, the spider moves on to bite the prey and inject paralyzing venom into it. The prey is then wrapped in silk for later consumption.
While some parts of its venom have medicinal use, a bite of the Yellow Garden Spider can require medical treatments for children or the elderly.
7. Cross Orbweaver
Scientific name: Araneus diadematus.
Common name: European garden spider, diadem spider, orangie, cross spider, crowned orb weaver, pumpkin spider.
This spider is known for its orbweave spider web. It ranges in color from dark brown to gray. Most people call it the Pumpkin spider. Large compared to others in Massachusetts, the spider can grow to a maximum body size of 20mm.
The Cross Orbweave is known for its cannibalization habits. The female tries to eat the male after mating even if unsuccessful in most cases. Larger females or females that are hungry are likelier to attack males. Females with more mating experience are also likelier to attack the males of the species compared to less experienced females.
This spider is also known for using spider web vibration defensive techniques. It starts to move the spider web very fast to become blurry and not as attractive to potential prey.
8. Dimorphic Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Maevia inclemens.
Common name: Dimorphic Jumping Spider.
This spider is distinct in mating behavior as well as it looks. It grows up to 8mm and it’s mostly seen in a black body and pale brown legs coloring. The spider has the most distinct mating behaviors which depend on many variables.
The male pursues the female in different ways. Spiders can even dance either to impress the female or to show appreciation for her acceptance of the mating process. In most cases, the male spins a small web spider and it ejaculates on it. It then starts looking for the female carrying this spider web which later becomes the breeding ground for the eggs the female lays.
9. Eastern Parson Spider
Scientific name: Herpyllus ecclesiasticus.
Common name: Eastern parson spider.
This nocturnal spider gets its name from its physical resemblance to clergy and their clothing. The black spider is mostly active at night. It lives on walls and vertical surfaces where it gets to move around freely looking for prey as it’s not a spider that spins a silk web.
While not venomous, the bite of this spider is considered dangerous. It can trigger all types of allergic reactions, particularly among vulnerable groups such as children and adults.
The spider mainly bites humans when trapped in clothes or shoes as it often lives in households looking for typical household insects.
10. Northern Yellow Sac Spider
Scientific name: Cheiracanthium mildei.
Common name: Northern yellow sac spider.
This spider is recognized by its pale yellow or pale green color with brown palpi. It’s a spider that is often seen around households. However, the wide range of Yellow Sac Spiders makes it difficult to truly understand the nature of the Northern Yellow Sac Spider.
Some studies suggest this Northern variant is venomous and dangerous to humans while others classify it as not dangerous. However, bites happen and they are quickly followed by pain in the area of the bite.
11. Flea Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Naphrys pulex.
Common name: Flea Jumping Spider.
The Flea Jumping Spider is one of the most popular types of pet spiders. Its friendly nature and non-reactive habits recommend it for those who like to grow spiders at home. Out in nature, the spider is known for its excellent hunting abilities.
This furry spider looks for insects and even at grasshoppers as potential prey. It pounces on the prey with excellent accuracy due to its excellent vision. The Flea Jumping Spider can jump 8 times its body length which makes it one of the most agile jumping spiders in the state. These spiders produce venom but this venom isn’t dangerous to humans.
12. Long-bodied Cellar Spider
Scientific name: Pholcus phalangioides.
Common name: daddy long-legs spider, long-bodied cellar spider, skull spider.
This brown spider with long thin legs prefers warm humid habitats. This is why it’s often found in cellars, as its name suggests. The spider has multiple areas of interest for science and biomedicine. First, it has a crucial role in controlling the spider population as the Long-bodied Cellar Spider is known for eating other spiders including Redbacks.
The silk of this spider is also known for its antimicrobial biomolecules. Some of these molecules are used to fight pathogens and bacteria such as E.coli and the Staphylococcus aureus. This makes the Long-bodies Cellar Spider one of the few species in Massachusetts with medical significance.
13. Brown Widow
Scientific name: Latrodectus geometricus.
Common name: brown widow, brown button spider, grey widow, brown black widow, house button spider, geometric button spider.
A few reports have been noted on the Brown Widow in Massachusetts. This brown and yellow spider also has a red hourglass mark on its body so it’s easy to recognize. The spider is venomous and highly dangerous.
Older studies suggest Brown Widow spiders are not as dangerous as Black Widow spiders. However, a Brown Widow bite is highly painful and often needs hospitalization. Pain treatment is common with a Brown Widow spider bite.
There is antivenin available for its venom. It’s not the first choice of medication as the antivenin can come with allergic reactions as it’s extracted from the antibodies of horses.
14. Woodlouse Spider
Scientific name: Dysdera crocata.
Common name: woodlouse hunter, sowbug hunter, sowbug killer, pillbug hunter, slater spider.
The Woodlouse Spider is known for eating woodlice. As a result, it lives in areas with high numbers of woodlice such as under rotting wood or in garages. Woodlice have certain body chemicals which protect them from almost all predators. However, the Woodlouse spider is well adapted only biting woodlice on their abdomen where they can overpass the protective chemicals.
These spiders also have aggressive behavior towards humans. They bite people if picked up. However, they don’t have a venomous bite. At the same time, the spiders are aggressive towards each other. They often risk injuries during mating.
15. Zebra Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Salticus scenicus.
Common name: zebra jumping spider.
Resembling zebras, the striped black and white Zebra Jumping spider is common throughout the state. It has a distinct hairy body with black and white stripes and markings on its body and its legs. The spider grows to an average of 8mm but it’s better known for its low-key hunting methods.
The spider approaches prey quietly, much like cats. It makes little noise approaching the prey until it reaches a comfortable jumping distance. It always jumps on the prey with an element of surprise. Arthropods and other small spiders are part of its daily diet.
16. Dark Fishing Spider
Scientific name: Dolomedes tenebrosus.
Common name: dark fishing spider.
The Dark Fishing Spider is known for its large body and almost straight legs. This is one of the most agile spiders which can live both near water and away from water. Its hairy body helps it navigate the water surface where it tries to eat small fish and mosquitoes.
Often confused with wolf spiders, the Dark Fishing Spider can be identified by the markings on its body and the black markings on its legs. Its lower body is marked with W-shaped black marks which allow it to be easily identified.
Some of these spiders are considered Wolf spiders wrongly, mostly because they are known for wandering off long distances from water sources.
17. Spotted Orbweaver
Scientific name: Neoscona crucifera.
Common name: Hentz orbweaver, spotted orbweaver, barn spider.
The Spotted Orbweaver is a brown, gray, and black spider known for living in proximity to humans. This is the main reason it’s often known as the Barn spider as it often lays spider webs around barns, garages, and other man-made structures.
The Spotted Orbweaver can vary in size depending on the availability of food. At its lowest adult size, the Spotted Orbwearver measures just 9mm. When food is abundant the spider can reach sizes of up to 19mm. Up to 1.000 eggs are laid by the female at a time. Largely nocturnal, the female can turn diurnal to find food after mating in the fall.
18. Spined Micrathena
Scientific name: Micrathena gracilis.
Common name: spined micrathena, castleback orbweaver.
This Spined Micrathena spider is an active species that live up to a year. Male spiders tend to live less than female spiders. This Micrathena species is known for its body with spikes. The bulbous body might seem difficult to move, but the Spined Micrathena spider moves around frequently.
Spider webs are built in new areas every week. Each spider web is also consolidated each day in the central area where the Spined Micrathena spider is found most of the time. It’s a common sight in woodlands and areas with plenty of vegetation as well as around oak trees.
19. Northern Black Widow
Scientific name: Latrodectus variolus.
Common name: northern black widow spider, northern widow.
The Northern Black Widow is related to the Southern Black Widow and the Western Black Widow. This spider is considered venomous. Its bites require medical attention. The Northern Black Widow carries 0.254mg of venom. Once injected, this venom requires urgent medical attention.
There is antivenin available for the bite of the Northern Black Widow for a few years now, unlike with the Southern Black Widow.
20. False Black Widow
Not all venomous spiders in Massachusetts are highly venomous. Some are only mildly venomous with mild reactions.
The False Black Widow (Steatoda grossa) is often mistaken for the Black Widow. It has a dark-colored body of brown nuances but without a red hourglass marking. This spider is also known as the Cupboard Spider due to its widespread habitat.
Its venom is dangerous and painful, but not to the extent of the Black Widow’s venom. Its bite normally comes with pain and muscle spasms. In more extreme cases, its bite is followed by fever and excessive sweating. Latrodectus antivenin is given to patients with extreme reactions.
21. Triangulate Combfoot
Scientific name: Steatoda triangulosa.
Common name: triangulate cobweb spider, triangulate bud spider.
The Triangulate Combfoot spider is also known as the Cupboard spider. This nickname comes from its habit of building spider webs in the dark, typically in hidden places. As it mostly lives in the dark is also has a dark brown body with triangular markings on its abdomen.
This spider is rather small only reaching a length of up to 6mm as an adult female living in a place with abundant food.
Typical food for these spiders is found around homes. Arthropods are its favorite insects. Ants and ticks are also part of its diet.
The mating of this spider has reduced results compared to other species that lay thousands of eggs at a time. Female Triangulate Combfoot spiders only lay around 30 eggs each.
22. Filmy Dome Spider
Scientific name: Neriene radiata.
Common name: filmy dome spider.
This sheet weave spider is known for building a dome spider web. It hangs upside down connected to this web waiting for prey to get caught up.
You can recognize the spider by its pale brown body and pale brown think long legs pointing outwards. White markings on its body resemble those of the Orchard Orbweaver which makes for easy identification.
23. Goldenrod Crab Spider
Scientific name: Misumena vatia.
Common name: goldenrod crab spider, flower (crab) spider.
This crab-like spider has a yellow body that can change colors. Its distinct color helps it stay hidden on flowers where it expects insects attracted by pollination. It’s one of the few spiders with changing colors which are often dictated by the prey it consumes the most.
This is a carnivore spider living on flowers and other plants. It has a very wide diet as flowers tend to attract all types of bugs and insects.
The Goldenrod Crab Spider is often seen eating flies and bees, the most likely insects to wander around flowers. It also eats bumblebees and dragonflies. Honeybees and moths are also eaten by this spider making it both beneficial and troublesome for natural flower pollination and honey production.
24. Six-spotted Fishing Spider
Scientific name: Dolomedes triton.
Common name: six-spotted fishing spider, dock spider.
This dark-colored spider has white-cream lines running along its body for easy identification. As its name suggests, it’s mostly found around water. The spider lives on lakes and rivers but it’s also found on smaller water streams.
It likes to hunt smaller fish. However, it will often attack, paralyze and eat fish that is larger than the typical Six-spotted Fishing Spider. It’s also a species that moves fast rarely being caught by humans given its impressive agility.
These spiders are also very good hunters with different hunting strategies. They can detect surface-level water movements to locate small fish. These spiders can also use their top vision to locate the next meal.
25. White-jawed Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Hentzia mitrata.
Common name: white-jawed jumping spider.
These small spiders can be identified by their pale brown bodies. The front legs of these spiders are white with small hairs. Part of the largest group of Salticidae family, this is a jumping spider.
It’s often found on leaves, shrubs, plants, and flowers where it looks for prey. It uses a good jumping capacity to directly pounce on insects.
26. Bronze Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Eris militaris.
Common name: bronze jumper or bronze lake jumper.
These are also some of the smallest jumping spiders, together with the White-jawed Jumping Spider. A typical Bronze Jumping Spider grows anywhere between 4 and 7mm. It can be recognized by its dark body with bronze hairs.
This small spider is often found on the bark of trees. It mostly lives in suburban areas or other residential areas.
While not venomous, the spider is aggressive towards humans. Bronze Jumping Spiders grown in captivity don’t miss a chance to bite humans even if their venom isn’t dangerous. The bite is still painful, however.
27. Black-palped Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Pseudeuophrys erratica.
Common name: Black-palped Jumping Spider.
The Black-palped Jumping Spider is part of the Salticidae family. This is the largest group of spiders which means it’s found throughout the state and around the world.
The jumping spider has a dark body with golden-brown hairs. Its legs are short and thick, similar to the legs of other jumping spiders.
This spider is found around Massachusetts buildings as it preys on common households insects.
28. Asiatic Wall Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Attulus fasciger.
Common name: Asiatic Wall Jumping Spider.
As the Black-palped Jumping Spider, the Asiatic Wall Jumping Spider has been introduced to the US. Both are rather small as the Asiatic Wall Jumping Spider barely reaches a length of 3-4mm. The male spider is smaller. It can be recognized by a thinner abdomen compared to the female.
Similarities to the Black-palped Jumping Spider continue. The Asiatic Wall Jumping Spider also lives near homes, most notably in residential areas. It’s here that the spider can be found on walls where it patiently waits for insects before jumping on them.
29. Common White-cheeked Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Pelegrina proterva.
Common name: common white-cheeked jumping spider.
Common White-cheeked Jumping Spiders are also small. They range between 3 and 4 mm in size. However, they are easier to recognize than similarly-sized spiders such as the Black-palped Jumping Spider or the Asian Wall Jumping spider.
The Common White-cheeked Jumping spider has a dark brown body with white stripes that run along its cephalothorax. Hairs on this spider are yellow-golden which makes it stand out when seen in shrubs or around the house.
30. Rabid Wolf Spider
Scientific name: Rabidosa rabida.
Common name: rabid wolf spider.
The Rabid Wolf Spider is one of the most common Wolf spiders found in the US. It’s also common in Massachusetts even if it’s harder to spot as it prefers to come out at night.
This spider doesn’t spin webs and it isn’t interested in creating spider webs to catch prey. It hunts prey by ambushing techniques during the night.
The stripped spider is a very good hunter preferring to use leaves as camouflage to catch all types of insects. The best chance for this spider to catch prey is to sit on the bark of trees where its neutral body colors help it blend in and remain camouflaged.
Mating is also different for the Rabid Wolf Spider. The male spider makes specific noises with its legs to persuade the female spider.
31. Banded Garden Spider
Scientific name: Argiope trifasciata.
Common name: banded garden spider, banded orb weaving spider.
This garden spider has brown, black, and white coloration on its legs and body. It can be found in gardens, preferably in tall grass where the female builds a spider web. The male is often found on the web as well.
These are some of the largest webs around as they can reach a diameter of up to 24 inches.
The female is often found below this spider web. Connected to the center of the web by a thin silk line, the female awaits prey to be caught in the web and is signaled through web vibrations.
32. Marbled Orbweaver
Scientific name: Araneus marmoreus.
Common name: marbled orbweaver, pumpkin spider.
The Marbled Orbweaver is one of the largest garden spiders. The female reaches a size of up to 20mm and can be recognized by the round bulbous body shape.
As the Banded Garden Spider, the Marbled Orbweaver is one of the spiders that makes a web in shrubs and trees. These webs are always orientated vertically and the female spider is always in direct contact with the center of the web.
This Araneus genus spider is always connected to the center of the spider web through a thin, barely visible silk line. The female-only comes out when this signaling line vibrates as a sign prey has been caught in the spider web.