Welcome to Nebraska spiders overview. Using the state’s high butterfly diversity as a comparative standard, it’s safe to guess that spider diversity in the state ranks a bit lower. Butterfly diversity gets a larger bump due to wind patterns that occasionally help species from neighboring states fly across borders.
Recent news about the Joro spider and it’s long range air travel suggests Nebraska spider density has partially been supplemented by the primary spider families known for ballooning, including the orb weavers. However, unlike butterflies, not all spiders use long distance air travel as a dispersal tool. Given their ballooning behavior, it’s reasonable to assume that as the Joro spider spreads around the Southeast, some will eventually be transported by air to the state. Fear not. Ballooning primarily helps with small spiderling dispersal. There’s little chance of a large population of large spiders in large webs taking flight and parachuting into the back yard.
Spider diversity also depends on ecosystem factors. Farmland, for example, generally hosts a specific set of species that may or may not share similar patterns with spider diversity in the residential areas of the state. All Tallgrass Prairies, including those found in eastern Nebraska, are assumed to have experienced historically diverse spider populations that helped maintain balance in prairie insect populations. Press or click the green Tallgrass Prairie button for additional information.
The Nebraska Extension Service presents a comprehensive overview of the most common species found in residential areas and park settings throughout the state. From that perspective, Nebraska spiders diversity looks robust. Species from seventeen different spider families are documented, further categorized by their hunting methods.
Common Nebraska house spiders receive good coverage, spanning multiple families. The top picture shows a domestic house spider, also called a barn funnel weaver, (Tegenaria domestica). The formal name suggests an indoor spider. The build their webs in basements and corners of the house that get less traffic. Nebraska being farm country, they also occupy many a barn in the state.
Two types of poisonous spiders, the black and brown widows plus the Brown Recluse spider also lead the list of common house spider questions in the state.
A handful of cobweb spiders, the same family as the widow spiders, such as the common house spider (Parasteadota tepidariorum) are common household spiders, generally speaking the widow spiders tend be be outdoor species.
They build messy webs in woodpiles around the house, corners of barns, garden sheds and other areas or stationary objects that don’t get much human traffic. Keeping an eye out for the webs and black bodied females around the yard is the best preventative measure for keeping safe.
Brown recluse spiders can be found in the Southeast corner of the state. Fortunately they tend to avoid human contact unless forced to by humans who quickly put on shoes or clothes without checking for spiders.
Pressing the green Spider Pics button leads to a series of articles that starts with the most common house spiders.
Many of the common yard spiders have a wide range and they can be found in large urban and suburban centers such as Lincoln and Omaha as well as the more rural areas of the state.
Because of their typically orange bodies, Marbled Orbweavers sometimes go by the name pumpkin spiders. Less well known is the fact that some bodies have a yellow version.
They and other species with familiar names such as spotted orbweavers and black and yellow garden spiders, are common in yards around the state.
Both Western and striped Lynx spiders inhabit most yards and fields across Nebraska. Look for them on shrubs and low hanging leaves. The picture shows a Striped Lynx Spider.
Many people don’t think diversity when they thing crab spiders. Actually, there are around one hundred and thirty species documented in the Thomisidae crab spider family, divided into at least ten genera. Species from four of the more colorful genera:
In terms of identification tips, eye pattern rather than body color often is the best way to differentiate between species. Goldenrod Crab Spiders or Flower Crab Spiders (pictured) (Misumena), can come in shades of white and yellow bodies.
Swift Crab Spider (Mecaphesa celer)
Green Crab Spider Misumessus oblongus)
Whitebanded Crab Spider (Misumenoides formosipes)
A closer look toward the ground and surrounding areas brings us another group of Thomisidae crab spiders, the ground crab spiders. Physically they tend to be smaller than the flower crab spiders with a brown body color.
Jumping Spiders of Nebraska
Jumping spiders rank as the most diverse family of spiders in back yards across Nebraska. Identifying jumping spiders to the family is easy. They are small spiders that jump among the bushes and ground. Four binocular eyes on the front of the face stare out at everyone and everything around them.
Species level identification leans to the somewhat easy category with a few caveats.
The United States hosts over three hundred jumping spider species. Some look like ants and without the aid of a magnifying glass or strong macro lens for the camera, they go unnoticed. Best starting advice for jumping spider identification is to note that with the exception of a handful of experts, there’s really no good way to identify all the species and all the genera.
Fortunately, some back yard jumping spiders are easier to identify than others.
When it comes to the Phidippus species, think medium sized, colorful, spider with iridescent chelicerae (jaws or clawed pinchers) and that’s a good first attempt at identification. The identification tasks gets a bit more difficult for, especially with the species that have red colors on the h carapaces and/or abdomens. Four Nebraska documented species, P. pius, P. Whitmani, P. apacheanus and P. cardinalis, for example, have red color on both body parts. Identification tensions in the spider community continue regarding the utility of using any dark or light patterns on the body for identification purposes.
Paraphidippus, as the name implies, are related to Phidippus. Like Phidippus, most species are sufficiently sized to be visible to the eyes. Unlike Phidippus, they tend to be less colorful and they lack the green jaws.
The pictures shows ten common Nebraska jumping spiders. Column 1 show the more colorful Phidippus and one Paraphidippus. Column 2 shows representative species from other genera.
Bold Jumping Spider
Golden Jumping Spider (Paraphidippus)
Tan Jumping Spider
Thin-spined Jumping Spider
White-cheeked Jumping Spider
Peppered Jumping Spider
White-jawed Jumping Spider