Welcome to the North Carolina spiders section. With over five hundred identified species on the North Carolina spiders list and maybe another one hundred still to be identified species, this introduction only addresses a few of the more commonly found species in the state.
Please press the spiders button for additional spider pictures and identification help.
While many people are afraid of spiders, it’s still nice to think of them as beneficial insects. The video shows a Bold Jumping spider eating a fly. All spiders help with pest control around the house and yard.
The Southern Black widow represents an exception to the rule. It’s a small, black spider with a messy web. Sometimes they can be found around residential areas, making webs around lawn chairs, barbecue pits and woodpiles. There is a small area of Western North Carolina where a few reports of Brown Recluse spiders get reported. That is unusual.
Fortunately, the phrase ‘commonly found species’ means what it suggests. The majority of North Carolina spiders tend to be generalists. Those that live along the coastal plain in the east also can be found living in the mountains of the west and every where else in the state.
North Carolina Spiders: Orbweavers
North Carolina hosts aout thrity orbweavers. Because many build their webs at eye lever in residential areas, they can be considered some of the most recognized of all the North Carolina spiders. The picture shows a Marbled Orbweaver. The yellow and black pattern on the body is the most common look for the Marbled Orbweaver. Additionally, their body color and pattern can change to a more orange color or light beige color.
The next picture, a black and yellow garden spider (genus Argiope) is also a very common spider found in residential areas through the state. It’s also known as a writing spider and the presence of a line of what look like “Z” markings down the web is a good field clue for spider identification.
Another Argiope species, the Banded Argiope lives in North Carolina. It looks similar, except it has the presence of thin bands across the body.
Black and yellow garden spiders and Marbled Orbweavers belong to a large family of spiders called Araneidae.
Species in the Araneidae family are the most common spiders found in the state. The list of spiders follows.
The picture shows an Arrowhead Spider (Verrucosa arenata). Compare its triangular shaped body with the circular or oval bodies of the two previous spiders. A handful of orb weavers in North Carolina, including the Spiny Orbweaver and Arrowhead Micrathena lack the traditional round or oval bodies usually associated with spiders.
Long-jawed Orbweavers fit into a separate family. While they build orb webs, their jaws tend to be larger than the more common orbweavers. Orchard Orbweavers are common spiders of forest and woodland areas. The name orchard also suggests it shows up in areas where fruit trees grow.
Stretch spiders represent another common genus of Long-jawed Orbweavers. The long thin body and long thin legs explain the name. Unlike other orbweavers, they can sometimes be seen out of their webs and sunning on leaves and branches.
Common Garden Spiders in North Carolina
In addition to the web spiders, a handful of different types of spiders that do not build webs can be found in North Carolina’s gardens and yards. Their names will sound familiar: wolf spiders, lynx spiders, crab spiders and jumping spiders to name a few.
Jumping spiders rank as the most diverse of the North Carolina spiders. Inaturalist, a citizen science project, documents around seventy different species. It’s a pretty good bet that a walk around any yard in the state from the mountains in the west to the coastal areas of the east will reveal multiple species.
They are usually small and colorful spiders. The largest species might approach one-half inch in length. The smaller species might measure less than one-quarter of an inch in length,
The four eyes that span across the head almost immediately atop the face are the best identification clue.
The picture shows a Red-backed jumping spider, a member of the Phidippus genus. While the bold jumping spider in the picture lacks the red body color, most of the Phidippus species can be initially identified by some red on the body along with green jaws.
All jumping spiders use their silk as a sort of bungee cord to help them jump up and down the branches of bushes during the daily hunt for prey.
The large Green Lynx spiders also make them easy to see and identify. Less well known is the fact that other Lynx spiders such as the Striped Lynx spider can occasionally be found in the garden.
Crab spiders (family Thomisidae) consist of approximately one hundred and thirty species, divided into at least ten genera.North Carolina gardens host multiple species.
For identification purposes, crab spiders can also be identified by their color and habitat. Because their range orth Carolina hosts speciues from four genera of the colorful species:
- Mecaphesa – Hairy Crab Spiders
- Misumena – Flower Crab Spiders
- Misumenoides – White-banded Crab Spiders
- Misumessus – Green Crab Spider
The other half of the Thomisidae crab spiders go by the common name ground crab spiders. While both groups of spiders share similar looking body and leg styles, the ground crab spiders are usually shades of brown. Without a miscropic examination, they are often difficult to identify to the species level.
Staying with the spiders close to the ground, a look at the lawn or ground area in the morning dew often brings out the shape of the funnel web, named for the funnel web spiders. One genus, Agelenopsis, go by the common name grass spiders. They are usually medium sized with thin bodies. A pair of spinnerets are visible at the end of the abdomen. Sometimes they can be found in the house.
Think spider when you are out for a hike in the North Carolina wood lots and forests. The picture shows a pair of spiders in the Sheetweb family. They are probably Filmy Dome Spiders. Along with Bowl and Dolly spiders they are the most common spiders found in messy looking cobwebs (hence the name sheetweb) in forests around the state.
Five North Carolina Spider Facts
- Most adult spiders do not over winter. Some egg sacs may survive the winter bringing in a new group of spiders when the weather warms.
- North Carolina hosts one endangered spider, the Spruce-fir Moss spiders.
- There is one spider in North Carolina that has no venom glands, the Feathered Leg Orbweaver
- The are two spiders of medical importance in the state, the Black Widow and Brown Recluse.
- The Carolina Wolf Spider is the largest spider in North Carolina.