Spiders in Missouri

Missouri is home to numerous fascinating and beautiful spider species. In this article, we’ll take a look at the ‘Top 30’ moving from the most common to some of the rarer varieties.

1. Yellow Garden Spider

Yellow garden spider

Scientific name: Argiope aurantia.

Other names: zigzag spider, black and yellow garden spider, writing spider, corn spider, Steeler spider, black and yellow argiope, McKinley spider, golden garden spider, zipper spider

The female of this species averages 19 to 28 millimeters in length, so they’re as much as three times larger than the males.

Whereas most spiders have two claws on each foot, Yellow Garden Spiders, like other orb-weavers, have three per foot. This helps them to spin their complex webs.

They can easily be spotted in sunny, open spaces such as gardens – hence their name.

They use nearby plants to anchor their webs, which are circular and can measure up to 2m in diameter. The webs feature an unmissable zigzagging X-shaped pattern known as a stabilimentum. Its exact purpose is not known, but it may help birds to see and therefore avoid it. Yellow Garden Spiders often eat their webs and re-spin at night.

These spiders may bite if disturbed, but their venom, used to immobilize their prey, is harmless to (non-allergic) adults.

2. Spotted Orbweaver

Spotted orbweaver

Scientific name: Neoscona crucifera.

Other names: Hentz’s Orbweaver, or barn spider.

Females are typically 8.5mm to 19.7 mm long, while males range from 4.5 to 15 mm.

Hairy, and with red legs, females are red-brown to brown, while males may be light brown with the sides of the body almost black.

This naturally nocturnal species is usually spotted in late summer and early fall when females may leave their webs in the daytime to hunt. Most of the time they’ll hide in curled-up leaves. Although they’re active hunters, wasps prey on their egg sacs.

Their orb-shaped webs can measure up to 2 feet in diameter. They’re often seen high up on buildings.

Their bites don’t cause problems for humans

3. Tan Jumping Spider

Tan jumping spider

Scientific name: Platycryptus undatus.

The female is between 10 and 13 mm long, with the males ranging from 8.5 to 9.5 mm.

A fast runner, it can jump up to 5 times its body length, landing on its victim, then tying it up with a silk ‘dragline’ to immobilize it.

When not hunting for food, it constructs a shelter out of dead leaves and silk. Unusually, it is believed to hibernate in large groups.

It is easily spotted as it favors vertical surfaces such as walls and fences.

The Tan Jumping Spider is friendly and curious. It accepts being handled gently by humans. In common with other jumping spiders, it has keen eyesight, so it may approach and stare at people if it feels safe.

It would only bite under extreme threat, but if did, this is harmless to humans.

4. Bold Jumping Spider

Female bold jumping spider

Scientific names: Phidippus audax.

Other names: Daring Jumping Spider.

Adult females are typically around 11mm in body length. Adult males are 8 mm.

Like other jumping spiders, they have sharp eyesight to help them spot their preywhen hunting. It’s also useful in helping them make eye contact with potential mates during courtship.

Bold Jumping Spiders choose relatively open areas to actively locate and stalk prey. Their webs aren’t constructed to trap food, but for camouflage and when laying eggs. They also use their silk as a tether when jumping or to help them escape from predators.

Human bites are rare. Although they’re not serious they may be somewhat painful, causing itching or swelling which disappears after a couple of days.

5. Brown Recluse

Brown recluse

Scientific name: Loxosceles reclusa.

Other names: violin spider, fiddleback, brown fiddler.

Brown recluse spiders are usually between 6 and 20mm but may grow larger.

They don’t have distinctive coloring or spines on their legs. They may have a violin-shaped marking on their abdomen, but so do other species.

The best way to identify them is by their six eyes (most spiders have eight), which are arranged in two rows.

If threatened a Brown Recluse will try to escape. If cornered, it may spin around in fast horizontal movements, or play dead.

Although they rarely bit unless pressed against the skin, the Brown Recluse is one of three spiders (with the Black Widow and Loxosceles Laeta) with venom that’s considered medically significant. So if you’re ever bitten, head to the emergency room to be checked.

Further Reading:

6. Orchard Orbweaver

Adult female orchard orbweaver

Scientific name: Leucauge venusta.

These tiny delicate spiders are only ⅛” to ¼” in length (females); males are smaller.Their intricate webs can be up to 60cm in diameter, with 30 spokes and 60 spirals. Often positioned horizontally, the female spider hangs down from the center.

Adult webs construct webs approximately 1.5m from the ground. Juvenile webs are closer to the ground, to help catch low-flying insects such as flies.

They are mild-mannered, so when threatened by a human, they will likely drop to the ground and run away. If it does defend itself by biting, the bite is harmless to humans.

7. Arrowhead Orbweaver

Arrowhead orbweaver

Scientific name: Verrucosa arenata.

Other names: Triangle orb weaver, Arrowhead spider.

Females are 7–14 mm in length. Males are smaller at 4mm-6mm.

They are quite distinctive. First, the female has a triangular abdomen, like an arrowhead, with a zig-zag patterning- this helps it look bigger and scare away predators. The spines around its body also help to deter attackers.

Arrowhead Orbweavers live in trees and bushes in urban or wooded areas. They weave a large, loose web each morning or evening, then remove it after sunrise. Another unusual behavior is that they rest in the web with their head facing up, not down like most other orb weavers.

They prefer high humidity and direct sunlight, so are most likely to be spotted in late summer and early fall.

Their bites are harmless to humans.

8. Spined Micrathena

Adult female spined micrathena

Scientific name: Micrathena gracilis.

Other names: Spined micrathena, Castleback orbweaver.

The Spined Micrathena can be anywhere between 2 mm to 10.8 mm long.

It is distinctive due to its huge spiky abdomen, and black and white coloring.

Unusually, they wander around and find a new website every 6-7 days. They weave tight webs up to 20cm in diameter They change the inner portion of the web every night.

As forest spiders, they favor oaks and hickory trees, especially near ponds or lagoons.

They’re most often seen during the daytime, at the end of the summer. They’re non-aggressive and their venom is harmless.

9. Dark Fishing Spider

Female dark fishing spider

Scientific name: Dolomedes tenebrosus.

Mature females are around 1” long although with outstretched legs they can be over 3”. Males are around half as big.

During the day Dark Fishing Spiders hide in crevices but at night they emerge to hunt actively. They stalk their prey rather than catching it in webs. They’re able to run over the surface of the water while chasing prey, which may include small fish and aquatic insects.

Adult female Dolomedes Tenebrosus react aggressively when cornered: they will strike viciously rather than trying to escape.

These spiders are big enough to puncture human skin with their fangs, but in fact, only one bite has ever been reported – and the effect was similar to that of a bee or wasp sting.

10. American Nursery Web Spider

American nursery web spiders

Scientific name: Pisaurina Mira.

Other name: Nursery web spider.

Female American nursery web spiders are 12 to 15 mm long and the males are usually 9 to 15 mm long.

They choose tall grasses and low shrubs as their habitat.

The Nursery Web Spider is a patient ambush predator. When prey, such as gnats or mosquitos come within reach it traps its victim in its chelicerae and injects a venom that turns the internal organs into liquid. This blended-organ ‘soup’ is the major nutritional source for Nursery spiders.

If threatened, they’ll run away. If they’re near water, they’ll run over the surface or even dive underwater to escape.

Nursery spiders are used to control several agricultural pests, including grasshoppers.

The venom, although deadly to its prey, is unlikely to be harmful to humans. Your organs are safe!

11. Rabid Wolf Spider

Rabid wolf spider

Scientific name: Rabidosa rabida.

The female Rabid Wolf Spider is around 1” long while the male is around half that size. They have eight eyes arranged in two horizontal lines: four above, and four below.

They live in cotton fields and wooded areas, near ponds. They like burrows or holes surrounded by debris.

As fearsome night hunters, they stalk, ambush, or chase down their prey. They don’t catch food in their web but use their silk to wrap and immobilize their victims. Sometimes, they disguise themselves as bark or leaves.

Despite their fearsome name, Rabid Wolf Spiders will only bite if threatened and they’re not able to escape. Their bite is not dangerous to humans and they certainly don’t have rabies.

12. Golden Jumping Spider

Female emerald jumping spider

Scientific name: Paraphidippus aurantius.

Other name: Emerald jumping spider.

Males and females both have a unique metallic green stripe on the abdomen, which reflects light.

Tiny but strong, all Jumping Spiders pounce on their insect prey using their powerful legs to launch an ambush, or perhaps get themselves close enough for a quick run-down.

The Emerald Jumping Spider can leap many times the length of its body. It is thought to have keen eyesight and is curious and unafraid of humans.

Inside a home, they are useful in controlling pests.

Like any creature under threat and in a panic, it can bite in self-defense. This stings a little, but it is not medically significant.

13. Common House Spider

Common house spider

Scientific name: Parasteatoda tepidariorum.

Other name: American House Spider.

Female Common House Spiders are typically 5mm-6mm long, while males are smaller at 4mm-5mm. However, they can reach 2.5 cm or more across when their legs are extended. They are easily confused with widow spiders as they have similarly shaped bodies.

They are useful to humans as they feed on household pests such as flies, mosquitoes, ants, and wasps. They may even attack grasshoppers, moths, cockroaches, and sometimes other spiders. If their prey tries to escape, the spider will shoot a web at it from a distance and gradually reel it in.

House spiders have poor eyesight. If threatened they’ll play dead rather than fight, but if they ever do have to defend themselves, their bite is harmless to humans.

Further Reading:

14. American Green Crab Spider

American Green Crab Spider

Scientific name: Misumessus oblongus.

Females are around 3mm, with the males being around half that size.

They typically live in wooded areas and fields, where they actively hunt and prey on Insects, centipedes, moths, and smaller spiders. In turn, they’re prey for birds, wasps, and bigger spiders.

They don’t build webs to capture prey but use them for other purposes. They wrap their eggs in silk, and the mother protects them fiercely. However, the mother spider dies before the eggs are hatched.

Their bite is harmless to humans.

15. Dimorphic Jumping Spider

Male dimorphic jumping spider (dark morph)

Scientific name: Maevia inclemens.

The female of the Dimorphic Jumping Spider is 6.5mm to 8mmin long, while males can be 4.75-6.50mm long.

Strangely, there are two different male types – a very rare phenomenon anywhere in the animal kingdom. The “tufted” male has a black body and three black tufts across its head. The “gray” male version has black and white stripes and no tufts.

Their large principal eyes have better vision than a cat’s and are thought to be about 10 times as keen as a dragonfly’s. The three pairs of eyes along the sides of the head work as motion detectors so are used for hunting, to avoid danger, and to find a mate.

16. Eastern Parson Spider

Eastern parson spider

Scientific name: Herpyllus ecclesiasticus.

These spiders get their name from their abdominal markings which supposedly look like the cravat worn by 18th-century clergymen.

They can be spotted under rocks and logs in deciduous forests, and are sometimes found in homes.

During the day, Eastern Parson Spiders conceal themselves in silken retreats. At night, they emerge and go hunting for prey.

Their bites, though not dangerous, can be painful. Some people experience allergic reactions.

17. Furrow Orbweaver

Furrow spider

Scientific Name: Larinioides cornutus.

Other names: Furrow spider, Furrow Orb spider, or Foliate spider.

Male Furrow Orbweavers are typically smaller and lighter than females, ranging from 5mm to 9 mm long. Females are typically 6mm to 14 mm. Their leg span can be anywhere from 18mm to 35 mm.

They typically live in humid areas close to bodies of water or forests. Houses, bridges, and barns also make a great habitat because they provide suitable protection from the sun. These solitary predators build their webs close to damp vegetation.

They ingest their web each evening and recycle the silk to repair any damaged areas. They use orb webs to capture prey during the daytime; they are insectivores, preying on damselflies, gnats, and common mosquitoes.

18. Marbled Orbweaver

Marbled orbweaver

Scientific name: Araneus marmoreus.

Other name: Pumpkin Spider.

Females are 9-18 mm long with large rounded abdomens, and males are typically around 6-9 mm. They display a wide variety of markings and colors.

Marbled Orbweavers weave vertical webs in trees, shrubs, and tall grasses in moist, wooded areas, especially on river banks. They sit at the far end of the signal thread until it knows that prey has been trapped.

Like other orb-weavers, they are shy and will try to escape when threatened. However, if they do bite in panic, this isn’t medically significant.

19. Brilliant Jumping Spider

Adult Male Brilliant Jumping Spider

Scientific name: Phidippus clarus.

According to a 2002 survey, Phidippus clarus make up 52% of all jumping spiders in Missouri.

On average, the female is 4.05mm wide, while males average 3.2mm.

The Brilliant Jumping Spider is a flower- dweller. It often lurks, head-down, down near the top of a plant, until it senses it prey, and then quickly launches an ambush. It mainly consumes crawling insects or other spiders, rather than flying insects.

20. Triangulate Combfoot

Triangulate cobweb spider

Scientific name: Steatoda triangulosa.

Other names: Triangulate bug spider; triangulate cobweb spider.

The female Triangulate Combfoot is 3 to 6 mm long, while the male is smaller.

It preys on many other types of arthropods such as ants, and ticks. It also traps several spiders thought to be harmful to humans, including the hobo spider and the brown recluse.

Triangulate spiders are found around windows or in the dirt of undisturbed areas. They spend hours developing their strong webs, so they can trap prey despite their poor eyesight.

21. Striped Lynx Spider

Striped lynx spider

Scientific name: Oxyopes salticus.

Adult females range from 5-6mm, and adult males are typically 4-5mm.

They prefer to live in areas with plenty of leafy vegetation; grassy fields, and row crops with plenty of weeds.

The Striped Lynx is an active and skilled daytime hunter, which seeks out prey on the ground rather than in bushes or trees.

Their bite is not dangerous for humans. Although it may cause a little swelling, this fades within a couple of days.

22. Northern Black Widow

Northern black widow spider

Scientific name: Latrodectus variolus.

The body of an adult female is typically 9 – 11 mm long, while males are around 4 – 5 mm.

Their preferred habitats are undisturbed wooded areas, in tree stumps, or stone walls.

The strong, sticky web of the Northern Black Widow is a 3-dimensional, irregular mass of silk, most likely located in a dark corner or crevice. If the web is in use, a female will probably be very nearby.

This venomous spider can harm people, but the female injects so little venom that it is rarely fatal: less than 1 out of every 100 black widow spider bites results in death.

23. White-banded Crab Spider

White banded crab spider

Scientific name: Misumenoides formosipes.

Female M. formosipes are 5.0–11.3mm long, while males are 2.5 -3.2mm

They get their name from the white stripe that crosses the plane of their eyes.

Active during the day, this non-web-building spider uses flowers to prey on catch pollinators as well as to encounter potential mates. It’s a sit-and-wait predator which uses its powerful front legs to grab and hold its victim.

Females are able to change their color from yellow to white, to match the flower they’re sitting on more closely. The transformation from white to yellow can take more than 3 days, while the change from white to yellow is even more gradual. They can also conceal themselves by curling over flower petals.

They’re highly unlikely to bite humans unless squashed, and their venom is not harmful to humans.

24. Arrow-shaped Orbweaver

Arrow-shaped micrathena

Scientific name: Micrathena sagittata.

Other name: arrow-shaped micrathena.

Females are 8-9mm and males, which are rarely spotted are 4-5mm. Their abdomen is large and yellow with two big red and black spines on its back.

This highly distinctive spider is commonly found in gardens. It traps flying insects in its intricate web, which it constructs 1.5-2m above the ground.

Arrow-shaped Orbweaver bites are extremely rare, and not painful. The effect may be somewhat more irritating than a mosquito bite, but not dangerous.

25. Banded Garden Spider

Female band garden spider

Scientific name: Argiope trifasciata.

Other name: banded orb-weaving spider.

Females can be 13-14.5mm long, fully extended. The males are about two-thirds of this size.

A daytime hunter, it eats insects that get caught in its web, which can be up to 2m wide.

Large prey such as paper wasps, are then efficiently wrapped in silk to immobilize them and injected with toxic saliva.

Their bite is not dangerous for humans.

26. Long-bodied Cellar Spider

Daddy long-legs spider

Scientific name: Pholcus phalangioides.

Other names: Daddy long-legs spider, Skull spider.

Female bodies are around 8 mm long, and males are slightly smaller. This spider’s legs are typically 5 or 6 times as long as its body.

It lives on ceilings, garages, or cellars and has a characteristic ‘floppy’ way of moving.

This is an invasive species which is believed to present a danger for native spider species.

Cellar spiders don’t bite humans.

27. Six-spotted Fishing Spider

Six-spotted fishing spider

Scientific name: Dolomedes Triton.

Other name: Dock spiders.

Females can be 60mm long, when their legs are outstretched. Their bodies are typically 15–20 mm long and the male’s body from 9–13 mm.

These semi-aquatic spiders live in wetland areas, near ponds, lakeshores, and slow-flowing streams.

Daytime hunters, Six-Spotted Fishing Spiders can wait for hours for their prey. They immobilize and kill with venom.

Their prey includes insects, frogs, and tadpoles. They can even eat small fish up to five times their size and are one of the few spider species known to eat vertebrates.

They are most likely to run away from humans, often skating across the water. If they do bite, it’s harmless to humans

28. White-jawed Jumping Spider

White-jawed jumping spider

Scientific name: Hentzia mitrata.

Other name: Crowned Hentzian Jumping Spider.

The copper coloring of these stunning spiders is quite unusual for jumpers, which are typically brown or black.

They are difficult to study as they typically live in the canopy of trees. However, they are known to wander around at night, hunting for prey. They don’t weave webs to catch food, but to molt or to lay eggs in.

29. Wetland Giant Wolf Spider

Wetland giant wolf spider

Scientific name: Tigrosa helluo.

With a typical size of around 17 mm, T. helluo is one of the smallest wolf spiders.

They prefer to live in wet areas around woods, marshes, and riverbanks.

Link other wolf spiders they are solitary, living, and hunting alone. Skilled night-time hunters, use their keen eyesight and acute senses to spot and seize their prey.

Wetland Giant Wolf Spiders don’t make webs.

They won’t attack humans unless panicked. Their venom is not dangerous.

30. Black-tailed Red Sheetweaver

Black-tailed red sheetweaver

Scientific name: Florinda coccinea.

Other name: Red Grass Spider.

Adults typically grow to 3 to 4mm in length.

Their webs are made up of a horizontal sheet of non-sticky silk, with tangled threads above. These trap flying insects, which fall onto the sheet and are seized upon by the lurking spider.

Despite this ingenious hunting method, until now the ecology and life-cycle of the Black-Tailed Red Sheetweaver haven’t been closely studied. This is the case for many of the Linyphiidae family. Although it’s the second-largest spider family on the planet, it seems they are just too small to be interesting.

Further Reading: