How to Identify Spiders of Vermont

How to Identify Spiders of VermontVermont spiders are generally small and harmless, even though two varieties are often confused with tarantulas and black widows. The most common spiders can best be identified by their color, habits and habitat, along with the way they move. (Pictured: Crab Spider)


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Watch the ground at night for the wolf spider. Wolf spiders, also known as ground spiders, are fairly large and resemble tarantulas. These hairy, dark-brown critters are often speckled with black, gray, white, orange, yellow or green and feature a meaty body and spindly legs. Nocturnal, wolf spiders are usually found outdoors unless they've made their way into the basement or cellar. They hunt their prey by rapidly pursuing it, rather than building a nest. Females, which can grow up to ½ inch in length, may have an egg sac attached beneath their abdomen or young spiders hitching a ride on their back.
Wolf spiders appear similar to the fishing or nursery-net spider, but the latter has longer legs and lives in wet areas.
Step 2
Watch the sky for the jumping spider. As its name implies, the jumping spider is known for its jerky movements and rapid jumps. They, too, are hairy, but with bright colors and iridescent markings. Some may somewhat resemble the black widow, with a black body and orange or red markings on their back. These critters don't grow beyond ½ inch in length and depend mainly on their sight for catching prey. They enjoy the sunshine and being outdoors but are notorious for being brought in the home on firewood or other items. Jumping spiders are not web spinners, but the females will house their eggs in a silk cocoon.
Step 3
Look in all directions for the crab spider. These ½-inch spiders have the ability to walk in all directions, like a crab, and also hold their legs like their shellfish namesake. Their "crab legs" consist of the front pair of legs, which are larger than the others. Crab spiders have a chunky, short body and often feature horns on their heads or abdomen. Their color depends on their habitat, with brightly-hued crab spiders hanging out in the flowerbeds and drab-colored varieties making their homes on the dirt or trees. Crab spiders do not spin webs and the female lays eggs in a sac and then dies.
Step 4
Check for claws on the sac spider. These small spiders feature obvious claws at the end of their legs and are also known as the two-clawed hunting spider. They have a bulbous-back body and like to live in sacs created in wall spaces, corners or outdoor tubes they create under gravel, leaves and logs. Females reach about ¾ of an inch while males barely make it to ¼ inch in length. They are light-colored with a dark line on the top front of their abdomen.
Step 5
Scope out a web for the orb weaver. The orb weaver, also called the garden spider, has striking markings and, unlike several other of Vermont's spiders, actually spins a web. The webs are most apparent in late summer and early fall and are mainly found wound throughout a garden area or between tall foliage. The spider is fairly large, reaching up to 1 inch in length, and some feature abdomens in unusual shapes.
Step 6
Scope out a funnel for the funnel weaver. Large, flat funnels that cover foliage and spread out over lawns may be home to the funnel weaver. These ½-inch spiders feature drab, dull coloring and are most common during fall. They hide out in the corner of their funnel until they feel their prey walk across the webbing, then they pop out and snag their victim.
Step 7
Check out the legs on a Daddy Long Legs. These popular spiders have a tiny body, less than 1/3-inch long, with very long, lithe legs. These light-brown critters like to frequent damp barns, cellars and other dark and boxy structures.

Article Written By Ryn Gargulinski

Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.

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