How to Identify Canadian Spiders

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Two types of black widows can be found in Canada.
Two types of black widows can be found in Canada. (Image: Ian Waldie/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Many of the spiders found throughout Canada are similar to other species found throughout North America. Canada's many diverse bio regions are common spider habitats. According to a 1999 estimate, approximately 1,400 species thrive throughout Canadian forests and woodlands. Only a few have venom that is potentially fatal to humans, and even those cases are rare. Identifying those spiders is a key component to those interested in avoiding those spider types or those who are curious about Canuck arachnids.

Things You'll Need

  • Spider handbook
  • Access to woods
  • Jar
  • Tweezers for specimen collection (if desired)

Recognize the venomous black widow. Of the five widow spiders indigenous to North America, two trek inside Canada's borders. Those are the Latrodectus hesperus, or western widow, and the Latrocdectus variolus, or northern widow. The female of the latter has three reddish or yellow dots on its abdomen and several white stripes alongside the dots. The western widow has a red "hourglass" shape on its belly. While the females are jet black in color, the males of both species are about half the size of their counterpart and appear tan.

Become knowledgeable about tarantulas. Tarantulas are fairly uncommon in Canada. Only those in the genus Aphonopelma have been found north of the U.S. border, mostly in the Pacific Northwestern region. Tarantulas carry a common stigma and menacing appearance. However, there has never been a documented fatality from a tarantula bite worldwide. Experts equate tarantula bites to a wasp sting. The Brazilian wandering spider, one of the world's most venomous spiders, is often mistaken for a tarantula; these spiders do not appear in Canada.

Only a few species of tarantulas are found in Canada.
Only a few species of tarantulas are found in Canada. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Know common spider types found in Canada. There is an abundance of more common spider types found throughout Canada. More than 700 spider species are found in British Columbia alone. One such spider is the wolf spider, which eats insects and, in some genus varieties, carries its young on its back. Another generally recognized spider found in Canada is the Corinnid sac spider, which is a wanderer. It has yellow lines that run parallel on its abdomen, similar to yellow passing lines along a highway. The hairy and unusual Lynx spider is bountiful in Canada; it preys on insects by living on leaves. But its green cousin has never been spotted in Canada.

Wolf spiders are found on almost every contient on Earth, and in Canada.
Wolf spiders are found on almost every contient on Earth, and in Canada. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Tips & Warnings

  • Your local hobby shop may have an insect board and pins. Invest in one if you are an aspiring arachnidaphile.
  • Do not handle any spiders unless you have prior knowledge of what to do, as spider bites can cause health problems, and in rare cases, death.

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