How to Identify Spiders in Pennsylvania

How to Identify Spiders in PennsylvaniaAbout 3,000 types of spiders exist in the United States, many of which can be found in Pennsylvania. Two of the Northeast's most feared spiders, the black widow and the brown recluse, are found throughout the Keystone state. The latter survives the winter climate only if it resides in a warm household. (Pictured: Wolf Spider)


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Examine the eyes to see how many the spider has and what position they are in. The brown recluse has two eyes on the left, two in the center, and two on the right of its head, also called the cephalothorax. This arrangement is very helpful in identifying this spider.
Step 2
Look for markings on the body. The black widow (a venomous spider that can be harmful to humans) have a red hourglass shape on their abdomen. Other common markings can be used in identifying spiders, especially when referencing a field guide.
Step 3
Count the legs. A spider has eight legs and can be confused for non-arachnids that resemble spiders. The legs also have hairs that are use for sensory purposes. Long legs in relation to the body are distinguishing features of Pennsylvania spiders.
Step 4
Look to see if the spider is one that jumps or crawls. The wolf spider is a common jumper in Pennsylvania. These spiders are easy to spot because they hop to attack their prey.
Step 5
Identify the size of the spider. Most Pennsylvania spiders range from 4 to 28 mm long, but some can be as large as 50 mm long.

Tips & Warnings

Some spiders have eyes that are difficult to examine with the naked eye. Magnification may be required.
Even though some spiders are non-venomous, some people react poorly to spiders. Even non-venomous spiders can still harm certain people.

Article Written By Rob Holzman

Based in the Pacific Northwest, Rob Holzman has been writing outdoor articles since 1997. He recently published the first comprehensive rock climbing guidebook for Pennsylvania and has fiction work published in the "Pacific Northwest Inlander". Holzman has also appeared on FOX television and has been an outdoor consultant for the Discovery Channel.

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