Fortunately for the people of Arkansas, a few people have been interested in the types of spiders in Arkansas for over fifty years.
Currently, the 1985 publication A Check-list of the Spiders of Arkansas stands as the primary reference for Arkansas spiders. It reported:
Collections of spiders were made from 1966, to the present in the six physiographic regions of Arkansas. During this time 435 species representing 35 families were collected and recorded.
No doubt the past thirty years have led to increased spider recognition in Arkansas. The introduction of digital cameras and people interested in using them to document spiders they see, especially house spiders and garden spiders, will help build a more robust checklist in the future.
What the current list of Arkansas spiders tells us is that the state shares many spider families and species with its Southeast neighbors. The top picture, for example, shows a very common garden spider. It’s a crab spider in the genus Mecaphesa. There are three similar types of crab spiders that can be found on the garden flowers in the state. The Mecaphesa can be identified by the presence of hairs on the body.
Space limitations mean that the spider pictures need to be placed in a separate section. Please press the green spiders button for additional help with spider identification questions.
Arkansas Spider Facts
A quick look at some research literature over the past fifty years covering the topic of Arkansas spiders also reveals some interesting facts. Start with a 1964 article, Maternal Care as Exhibited by Wolf Spiders in the Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 18, Article 6. It reports,
Female spiders were brought into the laboratory and kept in cages so that their activities could be observed. These spiders were Lycosa L. Colinensis Walckenaer, L.helluo Walck., L. punctulata Hentz, rabida Walck., Pardosa sp., P. milvina (Hentz), Schizocosa avida (Walck.). From them we found that maternal care exhibited by wolf spiders is divided into several distinct stages which may be classified as follows: construction, care, and performation of the egg sac; and care of spiderlings after they emerge from the egg sac.
The picture illustrates the fourth stage, the care of the spiderlings. She carries them on the back of her abdomen during their early days.
Are there tarantulas in Arkansas? Fast forward fifty years and discover the answer is yes. From the article, Distribution and Taxonomic Status of Tarantulas in Arkansas (Theraphosidae: Aphonopelma) in the Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 62 , Article 17.
The genus Aphonopelma (Theraphosidae) is marked by a dearth of distributional data and a problematic taxonomy. To develop occurrence information for the genus in Arkansas, I conducted a citizen-science based survey augmented by field work and examination of museum collections. Results of these efforts yielded a significant amount of data that enabled the construction of a county level map of Aphonopelma distribution in Arkansas; a resource hitherto unavailable. Three Aphonopelma species have been described as occurring in Arkansas: A. baergi, A. hentzi, and A. odelli.
Extending the research on Arkansas spiders to the broader Arachnid class includes the ticks. Arkansas also covers ticks and discover that ticks literally cover many parts of Arkansas. From the 2016 article, The Ticks (Arachnida: Acari: Ixodida) of Arkansas in the Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 70 , Article 25.
We report a total of 3 argasid (soft tick) species and 16 ixodid (hard tick) species from 35 of 75 (47%) counties of Arkansas (Fig. 1). One of these, reported from the species, extirpated from Arkansas, whereas an additional species, been expanding its range into this state.