The Spiders in Omaha, Nebraska

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Omaha, Nebraska is home to a wide variety of spiders, from harmless home dwellers to dangerous denizens of the dark. If you live in Omaha, it's helpful to know what spiders are common in your area, and to be able to identify whether a spider is a friend or a potential threat.

Brown Recluse Spider, a.k.a Fiddleback Spider -- Loxosceles Reclusa

  • The brown recluse spider is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, light brown, with long, thin legs and an abdomen that is longer than it is wide. A pattern resembling a violin on the cephalothorax --- back of the upper body segment --- gives the spider its nickname "fiddleback." Brown recluses have only six eyes, where most spiders have eight.

    Brown recluse spiders live in dark crevices indoors and out. They build irregular webs with no distinct pattern. In the home, brown recluses may choose to dwell in places like closets, basements, garages, or in little-used clothes or shoes. Outdoors, brown recluses can be found in fallen logs or under rocks.

    Brown recluse spiders are poisonous and the bites can take weeks or even months to heal completely, although some individuals may not even realize they have been bitten. The bite site will often turn red and swell, and flesh surrounding the bite can die and become infected. Always see a doctor if you suspect you have been bitten by a brown recluse.

Wolf Spiders -- Rhabidosa Rabida

  • Wolf spiders are commonly found in homes and outdoors across North America, including Omaha. Wolf spiders are usually brown, and grow up to 4 inches in diameter including the legs. They are covered in hair-like thistles, causing some people to mistake them for tarantulas.

    Wolf spiders do not build webs, but stalk and chase down their prey, which is why humans are sometimes accidentally bitten. Common symptoms of a wolf spider bite are swelling and itching at the bite site. A bite can heal in a few hours or a few days.

    Wolf spiders can be found in places where prey is prevalent: around windows, in garages, or by doorways, and on the ground in just about any area where they can find prey outdoors. Wolf spiders do like to seek shelter in warm homes during the winter months.

Garden Spider -- Argiope Aurantia

  • Garden spiders, some of the biggest spiders commonly seen in Omaha, can reach up to 3 inches in diameter including the legs. Garden spiders are characterized by their black, yellow, and sometimes orange or silver markings.

    Garden spiders make large webs to catch their prey, between branches and tall plants. These webs can be quite large, as big as 6 feet across. Garden spiders are not venomous, and very rarely bite humans. Their bite is not considered threatening.

Woodlouse Hunter -- Dysdera Crocata

  • The woodlouse hunter's name is apt --- these spiders have two long jaws used to capture their main prey --- woodlice and pill bugs, also known as sow bugs. Woodlouse hunters found in Nebraska often have especially large front jaws. Although these jaws look menacing, the woodlouse hunter is harmless to humans.

    Woodlouse hunters have a reddish brown cephalothorax, reddish orange legs, and a light brown, oval-shaped abdomen. They grow to a max of about 3/4 inches in total diameter. They rarely are found in homes and reside mostly outdoors in dark, damp areas where pill bugs like to live, such as under logs and stones.

Black Widow Spider -- Theridiidae Latrodectus

  • Nearly everyone has heard of the "deadliest" spider in North America --- the black widow. These spiders do live in Omaha. Despite popular belief, most humans will not die from a black widow bite, especially if the bite is treated immediately.

    Black widow spiders are characteristically black with a red hourglass shape on the abdomen. However, some slight variations in the coloring and pattern are possible. Most of their body mass is in their smooth, globular abdomens. Black widows live in basements and attics --- anywhere that is dark and their webs can go undisturbed, but can still catch prey. The spiders grow to about 1 1/2 iches in diameter max.

The False Black Widows: Steatoda Family

  • The Steatoda family of spiders are common house spiders that are often mistaken for black widows because of their bulbous, dark-colored abdomens. These spiders are mostly harmless, however, and live in homes across Nebraska and the United States.

    Steatodas build irregular webs anywhere they can catch prey but also go undisturbed, such as in high corners, between window panes, or behind furniture. They grow up to 1 inch in diameter and range in color from black to dark brown or even purple. They often have markings on the abdomen, another reason they are confused with the black widow, although these markings are often yellow or brown in color, not red.

Yellow Sac Spider -- Cheiracanthium Inclusum

  • Yellow sac spiders are actually the ones to blame for most spider bites in Nebraska. Because yellow sacs are so common and often invade homes and buildings, these spiders constantly collide with humans, and bite when they feel threatened.

    Symptoms of a bite can include pain, redness, and swelling at the bite site. A bite can take a few days or even a few weeks to heal, if a lesion forms. A yellow sac's poison is the same type as a brown recluse's, which can kill flesh around the bite. However a yellow sac's venom is not as potent, so the bite usually heals faster than that of a recluse spider.

    Yellow sac spiders are small, only 1/4 to 1/2 inches total diameter, and pale yellow in color, making them difficult to spot. These spiders don't build webs to catch prey, but do have web "sacs" --- tube-shaped structures --- they build in crevices, where they hide during the day, or whenever they are not hunting.

References

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