Minnesota Spiders: Pictures and Identification Help

What types of spiders live in Minnesota? That’s a good question. Until recently the types of spiders found in Minnesota, or any other state for that matter, was almost unknown. Spider identification never really caught on with wildlife enthusiasts like bird identification and butterfly identification.

When it comes to spider identification, most people only wanted to know what types of spiders in their area are poisonous and how they ought to deal with them.

A recent survey of Minnesota spiders done at Bethany Lutheran College fills in some of the state’s unanswered spider questions. Currently almost six hundred and fifty species are on the list, divided into approximatley three dozen spider families.

With close to one hundred and forty species, Minnesota’s most diverse group of spiders are Sheetweb and Dwarf Spiders (Family Linyphiidae). They are basically the Minnesota spiders most people has never heard about. size is one reason. Most of the species are only around 1/16 of an inch, and very difficult to see. The only thing people usually see are the messy webs around the shrubs.

The common name says it all. They are a large family (species wise) of small spiders that build messy looking webs in forests and fields. In some instances, the webs of dome spiders look like a dome at a distance.

Sheetweb spiders have oval and elongated bodies. The video at the top of the page provides one example of a species in the family, the Filmy Dome Spider. It’s one of the largest

More familiar sounding spiders round out the top five Minnseota spiders in terms of species numbers and diversity:

  • Jumping Spiders: 34 genera and 81 species
  • Wolf Spiders: 13 genera 59 species
  • Cobweb Spiders: 23 genera and 50 species
  • Orbweavers: 17 genera and 48 species

The cobweb spiders include the state’s primary spider of medical concern, the black widow. Sometimes a story comes out about the possibility of the Brown Recluse spider reaching the territory. A recent study, for example noted that a changing climate might make migration of the brown widow north possible.

The remainder of the article provides an outline of the other more common Minnesota spiders. Please press the green spiders button for additional spider pictures and information.

Minnesota Spiders: Orb Weavers

picture of a Cross Orbweaver Araneus diadematus, part of the Minnesota spiders series
Orb Weaving spiders, the spiders that build round webs, are common accross the state. Two genera, the Araneus and Argiope are probably the most common in residential areas.

The picture shows a Cross Orb weaver. They are a European import that slowly made the trek across the United States. Look for them primarily in the Twin Cities residential areas. Otherewise, Minnesota hosts a nice collection of additional Araneus species, some of which have common names and are very colorful.

  • Giant Lichen Orbweaver (Araneus bicentenarius)
  • Araneus corticarius
  • Cross Spider (Araneus diadematus)
  • Cat-faced Orbweaver (Araneus gemmoides)
  • Araneus groenlandicola
  • Araneus guttulatus
  • Araneus iviei
  • Araneus marmoreus
  • Araneus nordmanni
  • Araneus pratensis
  • Araneus saevus
  • Lattice Orbweaver (Araneus thaddeus)
  • Shamrock Orbweaver (Araneus trifolium)
  • Araneus triguttatus

picture of a black and yellow garden spider, part of the Minnesota spiders series
Two argiope species, the Black and Yellow Garden spider, and the Banded Garden spider, are also commmon in residential areas of the state.

banded garden spider, part of the Minnesota spiders series
Here’s the Banded Garden Spider.

Argiope spiders get the common name writing spiders because of the presence of a line of what look like “Z” markings down the web. Juvenile writing spiders learning how to weave a web tend to really go to town with “Z” marking prevalent in many parts of the web.

More Minnesota Spiders

picture of a jumping spider, Minnesota spiders
Over 315 species of Jumping Spiders are documented in the United States. Minnesota’s Jumping spiders represent about 25% of the total. They can be found in back yards, fields and forests. Therefore, there’s a good chance that a careful examination of yard bushes will bring out of handful of species in every yard.

For visitors interested in jumping spider identification further than the family, the list shows 14 Phidippus species common in residential areas and parks. They are usually among the largest of the jumping spiders, and some such as apacheanus and clarus, have red bodies.

  • Phidippus apacheanus
  • Phidippus audax
  • Phidippus borealis
  • Phidippus clarus
  • Phidippus cryptus
  • Phidippus insignarius
  • Phidippus octopunctatus
  • Phidippus otiosus
  • Phidippus pius
  • Phidippus princeps
  • Phidippus purpuratus
  • Phidippus regius
  • Phidippus texanus
  • Phidippus whitmani

picture of a zebra jumping spider, Minnesota spiders

They share a common feature highlighted in the top picture, four eyes across the forehead. Finding jumping spiders around the home is fairly easy. They are not shy and they tend to hang out on bushes and shrubs in eye sight. Actually, one need go no further to than out the door to find a jumping spider. Zebra Jumpers, like the one in the picture, for example, can be found on the sides of many residential buildings.

picture of a wolf spider, Minnesota spiders
Two different field identification clues help to identify wolf spiders. The picture shows a typical wolf spider with brown or muted color body. This acts as camouflage for the mostly terestrial spider as it hunts prey.

The wolf spider eye pattern is always the four eyes across at the bottom with two addition rows of two eyes atop. Female wolf spiders also carry their egg sac on the back of the abdomen.

Wolf spiders are common in yards and occasionally make it indoors. They might bight, but they are more apt to flee when spotted. The largest wolf spiders belong to the Hogna species. They can grow to a one inch body supplements by inch long legs. No wolf spiders are considered spiders of medical importance or poisonous spiders.

picture of a funnel weaver spider, Minnesota spiders
Back-yards across Minnesota are usually filled with Funnel Weaver spiders, common called grass spiders. Early morning dew brings out the shape of the web, with a hole or funnel in the middle. The spider sits near the hole waiting for an unsuspecting insect to wander in.

picture of a Flower crab spider
Finally, a variety of different types of spiders have the common name crab spiders. The so-called flower crab spiders are the most colorful with yellow or white bodies covered with stripes, often red.