How to Identify Spiders in Arizona

How to Identify Spiders in ArizonaYou can encounter a wide variety of spiders in Arizona. Hikers will especially run across spiders and should be aware of the most common species as well as the most venomous and dangerous. Knowing how to identify the most frequently seen spiders in this southwestern state can come in very handy. (Pictured: Tarantula)


Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Step 1
Know the desert tarantula by its size. Also called the western tarantula or the Arizona blond tarantula, this spider can be up to 5 inches across with a body that can attain 3 inches in diameter and be 3 inches tall. Look for hairy legs on a tarantula and a body that is tan in color for the females and orange to reddish for the males. Remember that even though the tarantula is venomous, its poison is not strong enough to kill a human being, although an allergic reaction to its bite can be dangerous.
Step 2
Identify the female black widow by its markings. Realize that the female is the poisonous sex of this spider, which in Arizona can be found in wood piles and under rock ledges and different plants. Look for a 1/2 to 3/4 inch long spider with a shiny black abdomen, which in some cases may be brownish in color. Observe the red-hued hourglass-shaped markings on the underbelly of the female---a marking which the male lacks. While the black widow's venom is highly toxic, it rarely injects enough into a grown human being to be fatal. It can however make a person extremely ill.
Step 3
Recognize the brown spider by its very thin long legs and its brown color. Look for a distinctive marking on the back that closely resembles a violin, a mark which gives the spider its nickname of "fiddleback spider." Search closely on its head and you will see it has six eyes arranged in pairs. This spider is rarely more than 3/8 of an inch long and is venomous, with its bite capable of destroying human tissue to the point that amputation is necessary. Avoid rock and wood piles while hiking, as this is where they live.
Step 4
Identify the green lynx spider by its brilliant green coloring. Check among prickly pear cactus plants as this is a popular place among this species in which to build a home. Look for a 3/4 of an inch long spider that has long legs and observe the legs closely to recognize if there are spines present on them. These spines are an identifying characteristic of the green lynx spider, which is not poisonous to people.
Step 5
Recognize the giant crab spider by its size and movements. Look for a spider with legs as long as 2 inches that is brown. Watch it move and you will see it is quite fast and that it ambles sideways much like a crab does. Be aware that it lives under rocks and dead cactuses and that it can climb very adeptly, but it is not a poisonous species.


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