Tallgrass Prairie Spiders: Pictures & Checklist

picture of a Starbellied Orbweaver, part of the Tallgrass Prairie Spideers
Tallgrass Prairie restoration efforts over the past couple of decades spurred ecosystem research that includes spider surveys. During the initial restoration phase, researchers suggested that spider diversity and density served as an indicator of relative prairie health. Spiders as predators help maintain an ecosystem balance of the prairie by preying on many of the leaf consuming anthropoids that also inhabit the prairie.

The checklist of Tallgrass Prairie spiders was created using the species presented in three separate research projects covering three separate tallgrass areas. Additionally each research project used a distinct methodology for creating their checklist.

It consists of around two hundred spider species covering twenty two different spider families.

The Reed publication, Reed, Catherine. List of Insect Species which May Be Tallgrass Prairie Specialists Final Report to the USFWS Cooperating Agencies. July 1, 1996. , the earliest list, consisted of thirty five species that the author broadly labeled “may be prairie specialist”. It was derived from a literature review of the literature that included mentions of spiders in both the north and south tallgrass regions.

Jesús E. Gómez, Jenny Lohmiller and Anthony Joern 2016. Importance of vegetation structure to the assembly of an aerial web-building spider community in North American open grassland. Journal of Arachnology, 44(1): 28-35.
Spider survey at Flint Hills documented about one hundred different species collected over a three year time span using a vacuuming method.

Richard A. Bradley, Shauna L. Price, William L. Hickman, Robert A. Klips. Passive Re-colonization of the Spider Assemblage on an Ohio Restored Tall Grass Prairie Compared to Nearby Remnant Prairies and Old Fields. The Ohio Journal of Science. Vol. 120 No. 2 (2020)

Using both pit trap and sweeping capture methods, the authors documented 94 species. The author also notes, “in a separate investigation at the MCP site, a total of 1,646 individuals representing 143 species have been collected between 1988 and 2006 (unpublished data)”.

The large number of species in the checklist is more a function of differences in research questions and methodology than differences in spider species found in northern versus southern tallgrass prairies.

For example, the large number of ground spiders and wolf spiders documented in the Ohio study was a direct result of their pit trap methodology. Placing traps in the ground collects a diverse range of ground based spiders. The Flint Hills study focused on habitat diversity and the presence of orb weaving spiders. Under that research plan the authors orbweaving list of over two dozen species would be expected to surpass a study without such an emphasis.

A quick check of Bugguide also shows similar ranges for many of the orbweaving spiders. Taken together, the compiled checklist shows fairly robust spider diversity. Press or click the green Spiders button to learn more. Scroll down the page for some spider pictures and the complete checklist.

Tallgrass Prairie Spiders: Orb Weavers

picture of a Black-spotted Orbweaver
Black-spotted Orbweaver (Araneus miniatus)

picture of a Yellow Garden Spider
Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia )

picture of a Lined Orb Weaver spider
Lined Orbweaver (Mangora gibberosa) nice view of the spider and stabilimentum

picture of a Marbled Orbwever
Marbled Orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus)

picture of an Orchard Orbweaver
Orchard Orb Weaver

picture of Silver Longjawed Orbweaver
Silver Long-Jawed Orb Weaver (Tetragnatha laboriosa)

Orb Weavers

Orb Weavers
Acacesia hamata
Acanthepeira stellata
Araneus diadematus
Araneus miniatus
Araneus pratensis
Araniella displicata
Argiope aurantia
Argiope trifasciata
Argiope urantia
Cyclosa conica
Cyclosa turbinata
Hypsosinga funebris
Hypsosinga rubens
Kaira alba?
Larinia directa
Larinia famulatoria
Larinioides patagiatus?
Mangora gibberosa
Mangora placida
Metepeira labyrinthea
Micrathena gracilis
Micrathena mitrata
Micrathena sagittata
Neoscona arabesca
Neoscona crucifera
Neoscona pratensis
Long-Jawed Orbweavers>
Glenognatha foxi
Tetragnatha audata
Tetragnatha pallescens
Tetragnatha elongata
Tetragnatha extensa
Tetragnatha laboriosa

Crab Spiders

picture of White-banded Crab Spider
The large number of species in the crab spider family Thomisidae along wide spread ranges for a subset of those species makes for a nice diversity of crab spiders in the Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem. Species from four of the more colorful genera:
  • Misumena
  • Misumenoides
  • Misumessus
  • Mecaphesa
often go by the general name flower crab spiders and can be found on the native plants.

Eye pattern rather than body color often is the best way to differentiate between species. Three species, Goldenrod Crab Spiders (Misumena vatia), Green Crab Spider (Misumessus oblongus), and Whitebanded Crab Spider (Misumenoides formosipes) have very wide ranges that include almost all of the Tallgrass Prairie states. The picture shows a Whitebanded Crab Spider.

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.

Thomisidae Crab Spiders
Mecaphesa celer
Mecaphesa dubia
Mecaphesa lepida
Misumenoides aleatorius
Misumenoides formosipes
Misumessus oblongus
Ozyptila georgiana
Synema parvulum
Tibellus oblongus
Tmarus angulatus
Tmarus minutus
Xysticus elegans
Xysticus ferox
Xysticus gulosus
Xysticus luctans
Xysticus triguttatus
Running Crab Spiders
Philodromus rufus
Philodromus vulgaris
Thanatus rubicellus
Thanatus vulgaris
Tibellus duttoni
Tibellus oblongus

Jumping Spiders

picture of a
Phidippus cardinalis

The genus Phidippus is complex. In particular, for those species with reddish or orangish carapaces and/or abdomens, certain of the outward markings commonly used to distinguish between the species have been in dispute. Those disputes have, in some cases, raged for more than a century.

picture of a Bold Jumping spider
Bold Jumper

picture of a Zebra spider
Zebra Jumper

Jumping Spiders
Colonus puerperus
Colonus sylvanus
Eris aurantia
Eris flava
Habrocestum pulex
Habronattus calcaratus
Habronattus coecatus
Habronattus mexicanus
Habronattus rutherfordi
Habronattus tranquilus group
Hentzia mitrata
Hentzia palmarum
Maevia inclemens
Marpissa formosa
Marpissa lineata
Marpissa obtusa
Marpissa pikei
Metaphidippus arizonensis
Myrmarachne formicaria
Neon nellii
Paraphidippus aurantius?
Pelegrina galathea
Pelegrina proterva
Jumping Spiders
Phidippus apacheanus
Phidippus audax
Phidippus cardinalis
Phidippus carneus
Phidippus clarus
Phidippus johnsoni
Phidippus mccooki
Phidippus pius
Phidippus purpuratus
Phidippus texanus
Phidippus tux
Rhetentor texanus
Salticus scenicus
Sarinda hentzi
Sassacus cyaneus
Sassacus papenhoei
Sitticus cursor
Synageles noxiosus
Synemosyna formica
Talavera minuta
Tutelina formicaria
Zygoballus iridescens
Zygoballus rufipes
Zygoballus sexpunctatus?

Wolf Spiders

picture of a  Wetland Giant Wolf Spider
Wetland Giant Wolf Spider ( Hogna helluo )

picture of a wolf spider, Schizocosa avida
Lanceolate Wolf Spider

Wolf Spiders
Allocosa funerea
Arctosa rubicunda
Gladicosa bellamyi
Gladicosa gulosa
Hogna carolinensis
Hogna helluo
Pardosa milvina
Pardosa modica
Pardosa moesta
Pardosa saxatilis
Pardosasa xatilis
Wolf Spiders
Pirata alachuus
Pirata aspirans
Pirata minutus
Rabidosa punctulata
Rabidosa rabida
Schizocos abilineata
Schizocos aocreata
Schizocosa avida
Schizocosa bilineata
Schizocosa mccooki
Schizocosa retrorsa
Schizocosa retrosa
Schizocosa/Gladicosa spp.
Trochosa terricola
Varacosa avara

Lynx Spiders

picture of a Western Lynx Spider
Western Lynx Spider (Oxyopes scalaris ) pictured. Also includes Striped Lynx spider.

Tallgrass Prairie
Cobweb Spiders
Euryopis funebris
Latrodectus variolus
Theridion differens
Theridion frondeum
Theridion glauscescens
Theridium rabuni/ varians?
Theridulae mertoni

Ghost Spiders
Hibana velox
Anyphaena pectorosa
Wulfila saltabundus

Ground Spiders
Drassyllus creolus
Drassyllus depressus
Drassyllus novus
Drassyllus rufulus
Gnaphosa parvula
Micaria gertschi
Micaria pulicaria
Micariae lizabethae
Sergiolus capulatus
Sergiolus decoratus
Zelotes fratris
Zelotes laccus

Corinnidae Castianeira gertschi
Corinnidae Castianeira longipalpa
Corinnidae Castianeira variata
Corinnidae Merioladecepta
Corinnidae Trachelastranquillus

Meshweb Spiders
Argenna obesa
Dyctina bostoniensis
Dictyna foliacea
Dictyna volucripes

Nursery Web Spiders
Pissuarina dubia
Pissuarina mira
Tinus peregrinus

Pirate Spiders
Mimetus notius

Ray Spiders
Theridiosoma gemmosum/savannum?

Sac Spiders
Clubionidae Clubiona johnsoni
Clubionidae Clubiona kastoni

Sheetweb Spiders
Ceraticelus emertoni
Ceraticelus laticeps
Ceratinella brunnea
Ceratinopsis laticeps
Diplostyla concolor
Eperigone trilobata
Eridante serigonoides
Erigoneau tumnalis
Frontinella pyramitela
Hypselistes florens
Islandiana flaveola
Lepthyphant eszebra
Meione tabarrowsi
Meione tafabra
Neriene clathrata
Neriene litigiosa
Pocadicnemis americana
Walckenaeria spiralis

Family Dysderidae
Woodlouse Spider Dysdera crocata

Family Zodariidae
Zodarion rubidum

Family Hahniidae
Neoantistea agilis

Family Liocranidae
Agroeca pratensis

Family Phrurolithidae – Guardstone Spiders
Scotinella brittoni
Scotinella fratrella
Scotinella pugnata
Phrurotimpus dulcineus
Scotinella madisonia