A warm climate provides the perfect habitat for Georgia spiders. Many of the common yard and garden spiders can be found almost year round.
Georgia spiders made news in 2015, when University of Georgia researchers published a report documenting the presence of the Joro spider, a large orbweaver native to Japan and some Asian states.
source: Nephila clavata L Koch, the Joro Spider of East Asia, newly recorded from North America (Araneae: Nephilidae)
By 2022, Georgia spider news went national when University of Georgia researchers suggested those same large spiders would eventually spread across the Southeast and north to most East Coast locations.
Georgians were already familiar with the Joro’s only United States native species relative, the Golden Silk Orbweaver. Both build extremely large webs, capable of reaching the ten foot mark. While forests, woodlots and other tree stands are popular homes to the spiders, they are adaptable and will build webs on porches and other human structures in residential and rural areas.
Human transportation and the spider’s propensity to expand its range by ballooning currently represent the primary factors indicating continued migration of the species. Again, contrary to internet rumors, ballooning occurs when spiderlings release a small amount of silk to catch the wind for a ride to their new home. Current research shows no evidence of giant, four inch spiders using ten foot webs advancing by the dozens onto backyards in Georgia.
Contrary to the subtropical Golden Silk Orbweaver, the Joro spider is more cold tolerant and can therefore feel at home further up the East Coast.
Golden Silk Orbweavers habit is currently restricted to Southeast states.
Finally, un addition to the large orbweavers, Georgia hosts a handful of species with a regional, Southeast flair, such as the humongous Huntsman spider and the Southern House Spider, a crevice weaver that is often found on the outside of buildings.
Georgia Spiders: Widow Spiders
Like most host states, the widow spiders make news around the state due to their status as spiders of medical importance.
The names for the widow spiders can be a bit misleading. Northern Widow Spiders, for example have a range that extends from north to south in the Eastern and Midwestern United States.
Except for New England and the Upper Midwest states, Southern Black Widows also have an extended range.
Only the females get classified as spiders of medical importance. Both males and females tend to have black bodies, although males and juveniles of both species tend to have white markings on the abdomen. Additionally, females are twice as large as males with a body length usually about one-half inch.
The shape of the red hourglass marking on the bottom of the abdomen represents the classic field identification clue. Northern Black Widow hourglass markings are broken in the middle. Southern Black Widow hourglass markings are complete.
Brown Widows can be found, coast to coast, along the southern half of the United States. Body color can change and the orange or yellow hourglass pattern serves as the key identification guide.
The large majority of bites happen when humans intrude on their web, often hidden in corners of sheds or around the lower areas of shrubs. They can be painful. Fortunately, very few cause death.
Awareness and using gloves around the yard are the best preventative measures.
Putting aside the widow spiders, a large number of less dangerous cobweb spiders fit into the common house spider category. The Triangulate House Spider and the Common House spider (Parasteatoda-tepidariorum) represent two cobweb spider species that rank as two of the most common house spiders from coast to coast.
A couple of additional Stedota species go by the name False Widow spiders and they often wander indoors.Georgia’s few poisonous spider species, especially the widow spiders.
More Georgia Spiders
With the sensation and scary stories up front, the larger story of Georgia spiders is the fact that the remaining hundreds of species, including those commonly found in residential areas and parks qualify for the natural pest control award becase they feed on insect pests.
The following brief presentation covers a representative sample of the more beneficial, common house spiders and lawn and garden spiders in state. Without them, Georgia would truly have a bigger pest insect problem.
Please press the spiders button for additional spider pictures and information. The entire spider guide covers over one hundred different spider species.
In addition to the Joro and Golden Silk spiders, Georgia hosts dozens of orbweaving spiders. The smaller, black and white Spinybacked orbweaver is a familiar site in many backyards.
In terms of sheer numbers, jumping spiders are the most diverse family of spiders readily visible in Georgia’s residential areas. Like most Southeast states, over seventy different species have been documented. They tend to hunt on the available shrubs and plants and the four binocular eyes on the front of the face serve as the first field identification clue.
The picture shows a Golden Jumping spider.
Jumping spider identification gets further complicated due to the face that males and females look different. The picture shows a male Sylvan Jumping spider, very common in the state.
Here’s the female Sylvan jumping spider.
The Green Lynx is the largest and most visible of the native lynx spiders. They are often found on shrubs in residential neighborhoods.
Two additional species, the Striped lynx and Western lynx are smaller, less colorful and less common.
Another group of common lawn and garden spiders, the crab spiders, can be easy to identify at the family level. A bit of caution is advised for crab spider species identification.
For example, three separate crab spider genera with the colorful species found on flowers. The picture shows a species in the genus Mecaphesa, butter known as the hairy crab spiders. The picture highlights the body hair all over the spider.
Another group of crab spiders in the family are collectively called ground crab spiders. They tend to be smaller with brown or dull color bodies to blend in with their environment. Researchers caution that identification to the species level needs to include a microscopic examination of body parts.
Georgia’s large number of wolf spiders come in all shapes and sizes. Multiple small species share the lawn and ground with the ground crab spiders. Rabid Wolf Spiders, pictured, are medium sized species with distinct markings. They are one of the easiest wolf spiders to identify in the field.