While documentation and checklists of Michigan spiders lag behind those for popular insects such as butterflies and dragonflies, some effort has been invested in documenting spider species.
A 2005 article, The Spider Species of the Great Lake States published by the Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science documented 900 recorded spider species divided into 40 families. Five of those families accounted for about sixty percent of all species.
- Sheetweb spiders (Linyphiidae) 24%
- Jumping Spiders (Salticidae) (10.3%)
- Cobweb Spiders (Theridiidae) (8.9%)
- Wolf Spiders (Lycosidae) (8.8%)
- Orb Weavers (Araneidae) (7.7%)
Orb weavers, like the Cross Spider in the video, might be the most easily recognized group of Michigan spiders. That’s partly due to their large size and webs that get build around the yard at eyes view. The video shows the w3eb building process. Watching it on a large screen highlights the silk coming out of the spineretts.
Spider families with the largest numbers of species almost completely explains the ranking. Given the fact that spider species tend to prefer specific geographic and floristic habitat, common spiders around the home, garden and lawn will expand.
For example, the picture shows a Striped Lynx. About twenty Lynx spider species have been documented in North America. They are primarily a tropical species. Only three species make their way as far north as the Great Lakes area.
Residential areas in all the larger cities of Michigan, from Detroit to Ann Arbor, like most Great Lake states, generally host two Lynx spiders, the Striped and the Western Lynx (second picture).
Jumping spiders abound in Michigan, as they do across the United States. Often males and females look different, so it might appear there are more species present in an area.
Phidippus jumping spiders can initially be identified to the genera by the presence of green jaws. The picture shows a Bold Jumping spider. Not only do they eat garden pests, the also eat other jumping spiders, as shown in the picture.
Wooded and wetland areas around the state will also host a healthy population of Nursery Web and Fishing Spiders.
It’s another family with a limited number of species. Seven of them reside in Michigan.
- Dolomedes scriptus
- Dolomedes striatus
- Dolomedes tenebrosus
- Dolomedes triton
- Dolomedes vittatus
- Pisaurina brevipes
- Pisaurina mira
The following small gallery of a dozen spiders covers a representative sample of the Michigan orb weavers. The checklist of Michigan Orb Weavers follows.
Please press the spiders button for additional spider pictures and information. The entire spider guide covers over one hundred different spider species.
Michigan Spiders: Orb Weavers
Most of our familiarity with the orb weavers results from their having colorful bodies with distinct patterns that can be identified with the human eye.
Of the forty nine orb weavers currently on the Michigan spiders list, a few, such as Araneus pegnia, in the picture, have small bodies, less than one-quarter inch in length. The small size means they do not easily catch the eye. A macro lens attached to a smart phone or a camera will help bring out the butterfly pattern on the abdomen. It’s found in most of the Eastern United States.
The typical orange body color of the Marbled Orbweaver, one of the larger Araneus species, can be replaces by shades of white and yellow.
They are normally summer spiders that vanish by fall, leaving their egg sacs protected for overwintering.
Giant Lichen Orbweaver females can have bodies over an inch in length. The green patterned abdomen makes them easy to see and identify.
The Orchard Orbweaver looks similar to the Basilica Orbweaver and builds an orb web similar to the the Orbweavers. It’s a member of the Long-jawed Orbweavers and is found in the East and Midwest.
The color shading on the body by change, but the lack of a pattern and otherwise dull looking spider are great starting ID clues for the Spotted Orbweaver (Neoscona crucifera).
The dark slash marks down the center of the abdomen are he best identification clues for the Arabesque Orbweaver. They belong to the Spotted Orbweaver genus, Neoscona.
Yellow and Black garden Spider: One of two common garden spiders in the genus argiope. Also known as writing spiders, the presence of a series of “Zs” on the web are a good identification clue.
Both the Yellow and Black and Banded Garden spiders are probably the largest orb weaving spiders found in back yards throughout Michigan.
All three of the native Larinoisdes over winter, making them some of the earlier arriving orb weavers in Michigan.
The following two pictures show their relatively dull color bodies. First up is the Gray Cross Spider.
This picture of the Furrow Orbweaver highlights what looks to be a shiny body. The body pattern changes, but the darker edges are a good Identification clue.
Humpbacked Orbweavers rank among the smaller in the family. The body measures maybe one-third an inch in length. Identification can be tough because the body color and pattern can change.
Stripes down the abdomen of the Difoliate Orbweaver (Acacesia hamata) make this an easy to identify orb weaving spider species. Finding one might be a bit more difficult than identifying one. They are summer spiders that build webs at night. They rest during the day.