Common Northeast U.S. Spiders

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If you’re not a fan of spiders, good luck finding a habitat that lacks these small, crawly specimens. Even in major cities, like New York, spiders can be found in basements, attics and gardens. Most people associate spiders with huge webs and deadly venom, but although spiders have venom, there are only a few spiders that can really harm human beings. The most common Northeast U.S. spiders are harmless to humans.

A spider crawls into a basement corner.
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The American House Spider (Theridiidae – Achaearanea tepidariorum) is a cobweb spider often seen in buildings and houses in the Northeast U.S. It prefers building its nests in dark, small crevices, especially in locations where it has protection from the elements. It has thin legs and a round abdomen that tend to shine when hit by a light source. An adult American House Spider can grow around a 1/3 inch to 1 inch in size.

The deadly black widow spider displays most of the American house spider’s physical features, although black widows are distinguishable by their jet-black color and a red spot resembling an hour-glass on its abdomen.

An American House Spider walks across concrete.
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Wolf Spiders (Lycosidae) gain their name because of their grey or brown fur all around their body, as well as their hunting technique which involves chasing their prey. Wolf spiders are nocturnal and live around gardens and other places with vegetation. They have large heads and oblong-shaped abdomens combined with thick legs also covered in fur. Adult wolf spiders grow around a quarter of an inch to 3/4 of an inch long.

A close-up of a wolf spider on moss.
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Orb Weavers (Araneidae) typically live in gardens, trees and fields. They form large round webs in open spaces to catch prey. Orb weavers have a lot of species and subspecies, making it the third most common spider worldwide. It is also known as a “garden spider” because it tends to create nests in sunny places around gardens. Most grow up to around an inch, have a bulbous abdomen exhibiting really small fine hairs, as well as legs of equal length.

A close-up of an Orb Weaver in a spider web.
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A cellar spider (Pholcidae) may look menacing because of its very long thin legs and elongated cylindrical abdomen, but its venom poses no danger to humans. Its nest looks like a disorganized set of webs found in dark corners, usually near the ceiling of cellars, garages and dark locations protected from the elements. Adult’s bodies range from a 1/4 to 1/3 inch long.

A close-up of a cellar spider on a leaf.
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