South Carolina is home to numerous spider species. In this article, we'll take a look at 30 of them, starting with the most common. As we move through the list they becoming progressively rarer.
1. Golden Silk Spider
Scientific name: Trichonephila clavipes.
Other names: golden silk orb-weaver, golden silk spider, banana spider.
Known for the golden yellow threads of its asymmetrical orb-shaped webs.
Constructed from 7 types of silk, these hang from trees and bushes. The tensile strength of the anchoring silk is 8 times stronger than steel.
Females range from 24 mm to 40 mm in length, while males are around a quarter of that size.
Females have an orange-brown abdomen with two lines of pale-yellow spots. Males are dark brown or black.
They hunt and kill prey using venom, but are harmless to humans.
2. Yellow Garden Spider
Scientific name: Argiope aurantia.
Other names: black and yellow garden spider, golden garden spider, writing spider, zigzag spider, zipper spider, black and yellow Argiope, corn spider, Steeler spider, McKinley spider.
Males range from 5–9 mm, and females from 19–28 mm (0.75–1.10 in) in length. They have dramatic yellow and black markings on their abdomen.
Found in open spaces and also find shelter around houses. They use a circular web, up to 2m in diameter to trap their prey.
These spiders may bite if disturbed, but their venom, which feels like a bee-sting, is harmless to (non-allergic) adults.
3. Spinybacked Orbweaver
Scientific name: Gasteracantha cancriformis.
Other names: Crab Spider, Crab-like Spiny Orbweaver, Jewel Spider, Spiny-bellied Orbweaver, Jewel Box Spider, Smiley Face Spider.
Females are 5- 9 mm long, but 10 to 13 mm wide. Their abdomen features six-pointed projections which resemble spines. It's not understood what these are for, although most likely they are defensive.
Males are 2-3mm long. Both sexes are black with contrasting markings which can range from bright yellow to white.
They are considered beneficial as their prey includes flies, moths, small beetles, wasps, and mosquitoes, etc.
Spiny orb weavers are harmless to humans. They don’t shelter indoors for shelter, preferring trees and bushes.
4. Twin-flagged Jumping Spider
Scientific Name: Anasaitis canosa.
Typically 4mm to 10mm (0.15" to 0.39") long, it has two distinctive pennant-shaped markings on the upper side of the head area.
Found among leaf litter on the forest floor and occasionally on man-made structures such as decks.
It hunts flies, beetles, and ants using its powerful mandibles and stinger to immobilize its prey. This spider pounces on insect prey rather than sitting in its web and waiting for food to appear.
It is rarely found indoors, and harmless to humans. Its leaping ability helps it to escape from people who get too close.
5. Green Lynx Spider
Scientific name: Peucetia viridans.
Females are up to 22mm (0.87 in) long. At 12mm, the male is smaller.
The Green Lynx is identified by a red patch between the eyes. The surface of the abdomen is marked with six chevrons. The legs can be green or yellow, with long black spines
It may change color from green to paler yellow, depending on the season.
Females defend their egg sacs aggressively. They can squirt venom up to 15 times their body length.
Used in agriculture to control several crop pests. This spider rarely bites humans. The bite, although not dangerous, is painful and the swelling may reach 7-10’’ in diameter.
6. Red-femured Spotted Orbweaver
Scientific name: Neoscona domiciliorum.
Other names: Spotted orbweaver.
The female Red-femured Spotted Orbweaver is 7-16mm in length and covered in short grey hairs. The male is smaller, around 8mm, and more slender.
It can be identified by the white or yellow markings on the dorsal side of the abdomen. These typically have lateral wide black stripes on each side with a thin white band near the front which forms a pale cross.
While it prefers to live in woodland, especially those with hardwood trees and shrubs, it is often found living in buildings and under eaves in South Carolina.
Their webs can be 50 cm (20 inches) in diameter, and are anchored with longer ‘frame lines’.
Although venomous, their bites are harmless to humans.
7. Mabel Orchard Orbweaver
Scientific name: Leucauge argyrobapta.
Mabel Orchard Orbweavers have elongated bodies, legs, and chelicerae, They build small orb webs with an open center with widely-spaced radii and spirals, and no anchor or retreat line.
While they may be encountered in tall vegetation near water, they are also used in orchards and citrus groves to control pests that could destroy crops.
They are not only preyed upon by birds, they are hosts for wasp larvae. Wasps paralyze the spiders and lay their eggs on them, then as the wasp larvae develop, they feed off the body of their unfortunate host.
8. Magnolia Green Jumping Spider
Scientifc name: Lyssomanes viridis.
Adult females are 7-8mm and males are 5-6mm.
Although green, their eyes are framed with a small band of contrasting scales. It has longer legs, relative to body size than other jumpers, but it doesn’t leap as far – only 3 to 4 times its body length.
It preys on aphids, ants, and sometimes other spiders, ambushing its prey by lunging from short distances
Preferring magnolia trees, typically in warm, humid wooded areas, it may also be found in dryer regions on oaks, and other trees, or on shrubs.
Bites are rare as these spiders are nocturnal. They’re painful but harmless to (non-allergic) adults.
9. Spotted Orbweaver
Scientific name: Neoscona crucifera.
Other names: Hentz’s Orbweaver, or barn spider (which is also used for other spider species).
Females are from 8.5mm to 19.7 mm long. Males range from 4.5 to 15 mm.
Females are red-brown to brown, while males may be light brown with the sides of the body almost black. Female spiders in the north of South Carolina can occasionally be white.
This nocturnal species is usually spotted in late summer and early fall when females may leave their webs in the daytime to hunt.
Their orb-shaped webs can be up to 2 feet in diameter. They’re often spun on man-made structures, high feet above the ground, especially near external lights.
Their bites don’t cause problems for humans
10. Orchard Orbweaver
Scientific name: Leucauge venusta.
These beautiful, delicate spiders can be 1/8” to 1/4” (females); males are smaller.
Webs can be up to 60cm in diameter, with 30 spokes and 60 spirals. It’s often positioned horizontally, with the female spider hanging down from the center.
Adult webs are around 1.5m from the ground, while juveniles place theirs lower. This helps them catch low-flying insects such as flies and leafhoppers.
Despite its name, the orchard orbweaver prefers woodland areas.
When threatened by a human, it will likely drop to the ground and run away. If it does defend itself by biting, this is harmless to humans.
11. Brown Widow
Scientific name: Latrodectus geometricus.
Males are 2-4 mm, while females are typically 7-10 mm long.
Brown Widows are usually a mottled brown with black markings. It changes color when it molts.
Mature females have a lengthways stripe on their abdomen and three diagonal stripes on each side, topped with a square black mark. The characteristic hourglass of the Brown Widow is usually orange.
Somewhat "urban", they nest in secluded wooded areas or near homes.
Brown Widows can be identified via their unique egg sac, which is covered with silk spicules, like a huge pollen grain. Brown widows are unaggressive and rarely bite. However, if they do, it’s not medically significant.
12. White-banded Fishing Spider
Scientific name: Dolomedes albineus.
Females measure approx. 23 mm while males are around 18 mm long.
This spider builds webs but they’re not used to trap prey as it hunts near or in streams and ponds. Special water-repellent hairs allow it to walk on water. By trapping an air bubble on its abdomen, it’s able to swim and dive, hunting tadpoles, invertebrates, and even small fish.
It is non-aggressive, but if it is provoked to bite, due to its relatively large size, this can be painful, though usually harmless to adults.
13. Southern House Spider
Scientific name: Kukulcania hibernalis (formerly Filistata hibernalis).
This is a large spider as both sexes can be 2 inches (5.1 cm) across, with their legs are extended. Males have longer legs, while females having larger, rounded bodies.
Males tend to wander around in search of insects or females and will crawl across anything in their path, including humans. This is not aggressive behavior- they're nearly blind and can’t distinguish larger animals.
Females rarely move from their web.
Their bites are harmless to humans.
14. Tan Jumping Spider
Scientifc name: Platycryptus undatus.
Females' bodies range between 10 and 13 mm long, with males ranging from 8.5 to 9.5 mm.
A fast runner, it leaps up to 5 times its body length onto its prey, tethering it with a silk ‘dragline’ and preventing escape. When not hunting, it makes a shelter out of dead leaves and silk. It is thought to hibernate in large groups.
This spider chooses vertical surfaces such as walls, etc., and is easily spotted.
The tan jumping spider is friendly and curious if handled gently by humans. Like other jumpers, it has relatively keen vision so may approach and stare at people if it feels safe.
They rarely bite, and if they do, it’s harmless.
15. Southern Black Widow
Scientific name: Latrodectus mactans.
Other names: Black widow, shoe-button spider
The bodies of mature females are 8–13 mm long, while males are 3–6 mm. Females are black and shiny with a distinctive red hourglass on the underside of the rounded abdomen.
The Southern Black Widow weaves a tangled 3D cobweb of extremely strong silk, that can even entangle mice. They typically prey on insects, especially fire ants.
Despite their fearsome reputation, only mature females can envenomate humans. While around 2000 bites per year are recorded, and these provoke a range of symptoms, no deaths are known to have been caused by a black widow spider bite.
16. Rabid Wolf Spider
Scientific name: Rabidosa rabida.
The body of the female Rabid Wolf Spider is around 1” while the males are half that size They have eight eyes in two lines: four above, and four below.
They choose to live in cotton fields and wooded areas, near ponds, and often in burrows or holes surrounded by debris.
As skilled night hunters, they stalk, ambush, or chase their prey. They don't use their web to catch prey but use their silk to wrap their victims and prevent escape. Sometimes, they disguise themselves as bark or leaves.
Rabid wolf spiders may bite if threatened, but their bite is not dangerous to humans.
17. Dark Fishing Spider
Scientific name: Dolomedes tenebrosus.
Mature female bodies reach about 1” long. With outstretched legs they can be over 3”. Males are around half that size
During the day Dark Fishing Spiders lurk in crevices but they hunt actively at night. They stalk their food rather than catching it in webs. They're able to run over water while chasing prey, including small fish and aquatic insects.
Adult female Dolomedes Tenebrosus can seem dangerous as when cornered they will strike viciously rather than escaping. They are big enough to break human skin with their fangs, but only one bite has ever been reported – with effects similar to a bee or wasp sting.
18. Marbled Orbweaver
Scientific name: Araneus marmoreus.
Other names: Pumpkin Spider.
Females are 9-18 mm with large spherical abdomens. Males are typically around 6-9 mm. This species has an especially wide range of colorations and patterns.
Marbled Orbweaver spiders construct vertical webs in trees, shrubs, and tall grasses in moist, wooded areas, especially on river banks in South Carolina.
Each web has a "signal" thread attached to the center that alerts the spider, which has a 'house' at the end of the signal thread when the prey has been trapped.
In common with other orb-weavers, they are timid and will seek to escape when threatened. However, if they do bite, it isn’t medically significant.
19. Bold Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Phidippus audax.
Common names: daring jumping spider.
On average, adult females are 11mm in body length, and adult males are 8 mm.
In common with other jumping spiders, they have excellent eyesight to help them when hunting. It also helps them make eye contact with potential mates during courtship.
Bold Jumping Spiders prefer relatively open areas for locating and stalking prey, which they actively seek out.
They don’t construct webs to trap their food, but only use them when laying eggs or for camouflage. They also use their silk as a tether when jumping or escaping from predators.
They rarely bite humans, but if they do, the most likely symptoms are pain, itching, swelling, and redness which fades after 1 to 2 days.
20. American Nursery Web Spider
Scientific name: Pisaurina Mira.
Common name: Nursery web spider.
It chooses tall grasses, low shrubs as a habitat.
The Nursery Web Spider is a "sit-and-wait” ambush predator. When prey, such as gnats or mosquitos come within reach it traps its victim in its chelicerae and injects a venom that liquefies the internal organs. This liquefied "organ soup" is the major nutritional source for Nursery spiders.
When chased, they’ll run away. If they’re near water, they’ll run over the surface or even dive underwater for safety.
Nursery spiders are useful in controlling several agricultural pests, including grasshoppers. The venom, although lethal to its prey, is unlikely to harm humans.
21. Six-spotted Fishing Spider
Scientific name: Dolomedes Triton.
Other names: Dock spiders.
The female of this large species is typically around 60mm long, including the legs; her body is 15–20 mm long and the male's body is 9–13 mm.
Being semi-aquatic, they live in wetland areas such as ponds, lakeshores, and slow-flowing streams.
As daytime hunters, Six-Spotted Fishing Spiders can wait patiently, for hours, they use venom to immobilize and kill their prey.
Their prey includes aquatic and terrestrial insects, frogs, and tadpoles. They can eat small fish up to five times their size and are one of the few spider species known to eat vertebrates.
22. Spined Micrathena
Scientific name: Micrathena gracilis.
Other names: Castleback orbweaver.
The Spined Micrathena is typically 2 mm to 10.8 mm long.
Unusually, they wander and change websites every 6-7 days. They weave tight webs up to 20cm in diameter. Forest spiders, they favour oaks and hickory trees, especially near ponds or lagoons.
They’re most often seen during the daytime, at the end of the summer. They rarely bite and their venom is harmless.
23. Common House Spider
Scientific name: Parasteatoda tepidariorum.
Other name: American House Spider.
Female Common House Spiders are typically 5mm-6mm long, and while males maybe 3.8mm - 4.7mm. They can reach 2.5 cm or more across when their legs are outspread. Their body shape resembles that of widow spiders.
Common House Spiders typically feed on household pests such as flies, mosquitoes, ants, and wasps. They may also attack grasshoppers, moths, cockroaches, and even other spiders.
If the prey tries to escape, the spider will shoot a web at it from a distance and gradually reel its victim in.
House spiders have poor eyesight. If threatened they will fake death rather than fight, but if they ever do defend themselves, their bite is harmless to humans.
24. Long-bodied Cellar Spider
Scientific name: Pholcus phalangioides.
Other names: Daddy long-legs spider, Skull spider.
Female bodies are around 8 mm long with males slightly smaller. The spider’s legs are typically 5 or 6 times as long as its body.
It lives on ceilings, garages, or cellars. As it will attack and kill native spiders, this invasive species is considered very dangerous for native spider species.
Cellar spiders are harmless to humans.
25. Arrowhead Orbweaver
Scientifc name: Verrucosa arenata.
Other names: Triangle orb weaver, Arrowhead spider.
Females are typically 7–14 mm long while males are 4mm-6mm.
Arrowhead Orbweavers spin webs in trees and bushes in urban or wooded areas. They prefer humidity and direct sunlight, as in late summer and early fall.
They create a large, loose web low each morning or evening, then remove it after sunrise.
Another unusual feature of this spider is that it rests in the web with its head facing up, not down like most other orb weavers.
26. Arrow-shaped Orbweaver
Scientific name: Micrathena sagittata.
Common names: arrow-shaped micrathena.
Females are 8-9mm and males 4-5mm. Males are rarely seen. Its abdomen is large and yellow with two big red and black spines on its back.
This weird-looking spider is commonly found in gardens. It weaves intricate webs 1.5-2m off the ground, to trap flying insects.
An Arrow-shaped Orbweaver bite is extremely rare, and not painful. The effect may be somewhat more irritating than a mosquito bite.
27. Wolf Spider
Scientific name: Tigrosa annexa.
Other names: Wolfies.
Unusually, these spiders, which were only identified in 2012, don’t have an ‘‘official’ common name. They’re usually referred to as “Tigrosas”.
They’re strong, wandering nocturnal hunters who don’t build webs, preferring to hide and wait for their prey to pass within reach, or sometimes chasing it down.
They have excellent eyesight, which will reflect the beam of a flashlight if you come across one in the dark.
They’re unusual for the fact that the female carries her egg sac, and later her young, on her body.
28. Ribbon Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Metacyrba taeniola.
Metacyrba taeniola males grow to 4.4mm - 6mm long, and females reach 5mm - 7.2mm
They’re found under bark or near the ground in deciduous forests.
29. Common Hentz Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Hentzia palmarum.
Other names: Common Hentz Jumper.
The males are dark brown with striking white stripes along their body, legs, and jaws. The central white marking is only on the back half of their dorsal abdomen. The front pair of legs are much longer than the other pairs.
Females are paler, with more hairs, and sometimes decorated with forward-pointing triangles on the middle of their abdomen.
The Common Hentz Jumping Spider leaps on top of its prey rather than trapping it in a web, using a silk thread to stop the victim from escaping. It also uses its silk to build shelters.
Like most jumping spiders, it can startle humans but is non-aggressive and a bite would be harmless.
30. Sylvan Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Colonus sylvanus.
Typical body length is about 7.5mm or less.
The preferred habitat of the Sylvan Jumping Spider is woodland. It lives in trees, catching passing flying insects by casting a thread, then reeling them in.
Sylvan Jumper bites. Bites are harmless to humans.