How to Identify Spiders in the US

Spiders are commonly encountered in our everyday lives. Whether outside hiking or in your house, you can probably find a spider if you look close enough. Since several species are poisonous, there are times when you may need to identify a particular spider. While there are tens of thousands of spider species, and exact identification must often be left to seasoned experts, there are a few characteristics to look for---and then to cross-reference with your geographic location. With so many different varieties in the U.S., a field guide is the best way to identify spiders. These handy books have good, clear photographs and descriptions that make identification much easier.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to Identify Spiders in the US

Things You’ll Need:
  • Audubon field guide
  • Magnifying glass
  • Tweezers
Step 1
Capture the spider you wish to identify. Identification will be easier if the spider is alive and in one piece, although this may not always be the case. Use the magnifying glass and tweezers to observe the spider.
Step 2
Go to the silhouette "Thumbs Tabs" and find the spider shape. Look at the "Typical Shape" silhouettes until you find the shape that most closely resembles that of the spider.
Step 3
Refer to the page numbers listed next to the silhouette. These page numbers are for "Color Plate" photographs of the spiders.
Step 4
Study the photographs. There may be several different species that look the same. The caption for each species will give the size of the spider and another page number for the description.
Step 5
Read the description for more information on that particular spider. Use this information to confirm the species of spider that you have captured.

Tips & Warnings

Refer to the Resources section for a link on where to purchase Audubon field guides.
Spiders may be poisonous or have a painful bite. Use caution when handling.


Article Written By Daniel Ray

Daniel Ray has been writing for over 15 years. He has been published in "Florida Sportsman" magazine. He holds an FAA airframe and powerplant license and FCC radiotelephone license, and is also a licensed private pilot. He attended the University of South Florida.

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