The cool, northern climate means the traditional season for New Hampshire spiders runs from late spring to early fall.
Spider enthusiasts almost always need to wait until mid-summer to explore spider diversity in the White Mountains. Lower lying towns and larger residential areas such as Manchester and Nashua tend to share the same spider species. In fact, all New England provides suitable habitat for the New Hampshire spiders.
Currently an internet search for a comprehensive checklist of New Hampshire spiders comes up empty. Maine’s current checklist of 677 spiders divided into 33 families, provides a good foundation for thinking about the topic. Many of these species live their lives away from human eye, either on the ground or hidden among the tree branches.
As for the spiders that New Hampshire residents will normally see, consider the citizen science internet project called Inaturalist. It currently documents about one hundred and seventy five spider species that do catch the human eye and camera lens. So, despite the state’s relatively shorter spider season, there’s always a bunch of spiders to see almost everywhere.
The two most common types of spiders in terms of species numbers are the Dwarf/Sheetweb spiders and the Jumping Spiders. Dwarf and Sheetweb spiders build messy webs around the shrubs. Their diminutive size, most around the 1/16 of an inch, means that their webs are more visible than the spiders.
On the other hand, many jumping spiders often grow around one quarter of an inch, and they pop up and down around the yard constantly. The video shows a Bronze Jumping Spider. Based on current jumping spider observations on Inaturalist, it’s one of the most common of the thirty six documented jumping spider species.
Bold jumping spiders probably rank as the most common jumping spider species in the United States. It’s also one of the most common jumping spiders found in residential areas.Their large size (at least for jumping spiders), black bodies and green jaws, make them easy to identify.
A look on the side of a house or other outdoor structure often turns up the small Zebra jumping spider. Their appearance varies with both black and white and brown and white markings.
The unique body colors of the Tan jumping spider also make them fairly easy to identify.
The large number of jumping spider species also means that a handful of the less common or smaller species also inhabit residential areas. Keeping an eye out for them might also turn up a smaller, mostly brown spider in their territory, the Western Lynx Spider. The triangular shaped abdomen along with the long, thin legs represent the best first field identification clues.
Unlike the jumping spiders, only two lynx spiders, the striped lynx and Western Lynx, are present in New Hampshire.
Another common spider identification question comes from individuals who see spiders in their homes and apartments and want to know if the spider is dangerous.
The easy answer is no. Spiders are classified as beneficial because they prey on insect pests. There’s always a catch. No doubt the Northern Black Widow spider is the best known New Hampshire cobweb spider. Fortunately, only the females get classified as spiders of medical importance. The good news is that New Hampshire tends to be on the northern boundary of their range, so the few observations recorded are limited to the south and central areas of the state. More good news, they are not known to build webs in residential homes. The less than good news is that they do build webs in residential neighborhoods. and it’s possible to spot a web on the side of a building or around back yard furniture
The spiders button leads to articles that provide additional spider pictures and information. The entire spider guide covers over one hundred different spider species.
Identifying cobweb spiders could be a lifelong task. While the small group that tend to build their webs in residential areas tend to receive the most attention, in fact close to four hundred species have been documented in the United States.
The numbers suggest that over ninety five percent of all cobweb spiders are outdoor spiders that don’t receive a second thought by anyone other than extreme spider enthusiasts.
Two physical features, the presence of round abdomens with the first set of legs longer than the others, serve as the initial identification tools. Body color and abdominal patterns serve as the next identification clues.
Enoplognatha ovata, pictured at the top of this section serves as a good example. It’s fairly common along the northern part of the United States. However, they can take on a few different colors and abdominal patterns.
A couple of indoor house spiders also fit in the cobweb spiders category. Most of the cobweb spiders do not receive common names. The Common House Spider (Parasteatoda-tepidariorum, and the the Triangulate House Spider, are exceptions to the rule.
With a total of over thirty five documented orbweavers, it’s safe to say that all the state’s residential neighborhoods hosts a nice variety of common lawn and garden spiders. There might be some differences in species depending on the rural, urban or suburban environment along with the natural environment such as the valleys and mountains. The Barn Orbweaver (Araneus cavaticus), for example, would probably be more common in the rural areas of the state. A wide ranging northern forest spider, Nordmann’s Orb-weaver (Araneus nordmanni), also inhabits out of the way places in the state.
Regardless of natural and man made conditions, the orbweavers might be the most easily noticed in the yard because their webs are often build at eye level. Colorful bodies and distinct abdominal patterns, such as the Marbled Orbweaver, help make identification easy.
Garden cross spiders are also another common species found in residential areas.
The colorful bodies of flower crab spiders (family Thomisidae) makes them easy to identify to the family level. Their propensity to sit on flowers and wait for prey to come along means they are also easily found.
Less well known is the fact that the crab spider family consists of about one hundred and thirty species, divided into at least ten genera. New Hampshire hosts four of the species of the more colorful genera:
- Mecaphesa – Hairy Crab Spiders
- Misumena – Flower Crab Spider
- Misumenoides – White-banded Crab Spiders
- Misumessus – Green Crab Spider
Instead, researchers look at other physical characteristics such as eye patterns. The Hairy Crab Spiders can also be identified as a group by the presence of hairs on the body. The picture shows a Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia), a widespread northern species and the only species in the genus.
The other half of the crab spider family collectively get called ground crab spiders. They are typically smaller and duller in color with body colors defined by shades of brown.
With oval abdomens and crab like legs, their overall physical appearance resembles the more colorful crab spiders. They share the ground with a variety of other spiders, such as ground spiders and wolf spiders.
The picture shows a wolf spider. The longer legs and slimmer abdomen help differentiate it from the ground crab spiders.