Because of the mountains, West Virginia spiders run through a few different seasons. Higher altitude and colder locations experience a shorter spider season than the lower altitude warmer climate locations.
West Virginia, like other states, documents their birds, butterflies and dragonflies more closely than their spiders. Generally with the exception of the Black Widow spider, all of West Virginia spiders can be considered as beneficial creatures because they perform natural pest control function wherever they are found.
Dividing spiders according to their hunting practices serves as a useful first step for identification purposes. Some spiders build webs to catch their prey, others actively or passively hunt their prey. The top picture, for example, shows a ground spider that resembles an ant. There are literally hundreds of ground spider species underfoot across the United States, including many West Virginia specialties.
The following small gallery of spiders covers a representative sample of hunting and web spiders in the state. Many live in residential areas. Please press the spiders button for additional spider pictures and information. The entire spider guide covers over one hundred different spider species.
Striped Lynx Spider
Bold Jumping Spider
Golden Jumping Spider
Yellow Sac Spider
Six-spotted Fishing Spider
Nursery Web Spider
Crab Spider (Misumena)
Crab Spider (Mecaphesa)
Hentz Orbweaver (Neoscona)
Banded Garden Spider
Black and Yellow Garden Spider
Arrowshaped Micrathena Spider
Common Spiders of West Virginia
Of all the spiders presented, the orbweavers are least likely to wander into the house. Instead, the tend to build the flat orb webs in the yard and remain stationary most of the day.
Three types of spiders in the orbweaver category frequent back yards in west Virginia during the late spring and early summer, argiope. spotted orbweavers (Neoscona) and Araneus genus. They are the larger and more colorful species that are easy to identify. Araneus species provide most of West Virginia orbweaving spider diversity. Shamrock and Marbled orbweavers might be the most common in residential areas.
Writing spiders (Argiope genus) can easily be identified by the presence of a series of “Zs” on the web.
The picture shows a close up of the Basilica Orbweaver. The web receives as much attention. Rather than the traditional flat round web of the orbweavers, it builds a dome-shaped web.
As spiders of medical importance, Widow spiders of the Genus Latrodectus raise the most common web spider questions. While they normally build nests low to the ground in brush and woodpiles, occasionally one can be found indoors.
Hunting spiders often live on or close to the ground. Like most states, jumping spiders lead the list of spiders with the most species in the family. Phidippus species might be the easiest to identify by genera because of their green jaws and colorful bodies. It should be noted that many jumping spiders change body color and patterns during the maturation process, making identification a bit tricky. The picture highlights the green jaws and the binocular eyes that run across the front of the face.
Finding and identifying Zebra spiders is relatively straight forward. They fit into the wall jumper category and live on the sides of homes and other structures. The abdominal stripes stay with both genders throughout their lives.
The first column also shows the fishing spider and nursery web spider. In terms of size, they are comparable to a few of the larger species of wolf spiders. However, by a large extent, the number of wolf spider species in the state far outnumbers them. Additionally, fishing spiders and nursery web spiders often live outside residential areas, many wolf spiders take up residence around the home. The picture shows a Dotted Wolf Spider.
All spiders, including the hunting spiders, use silk for one reason or another. The common name sac spider, for example, refers to a few different families of hunting spiders that build silk sacs as their homes. Two yellow sac spiders are fairly common and can be found both outdoors and indoors in residential neighborhoods. That makes them potentially year round residents in the neighborhood. Beware, there are many accounts of a painful bite associated with the spider. Thankfully they have never been listed as a spider of medical importance.
Crab spiders usually do not venture indoors. Rather they tend to the flowers around the house. The pictures at the bottom of the first column show two species with white bodies and red stripes. Three genera of so called flower crab spiders come in a variety of colors, including yellow. Eye patterns and body hair are the proper way to identify them.
Less well known is the fact that almost one hundred and thirty species of crab spiders have been documented in the United States. They also can be found around the home. However, with few exceptions, such as the Green Crab Spider, they are small with brown bodies.
Lynx spiders are mostly a tropical family. West Virginia has two species that frequent back yards, the Striped Lynx and the Western Lynx. Neither is prone to indoor living.