Delaware is home to many different types of spiders. Its close proximity to the ocean makes it a prime location for a family of water specimens, the fishing spiders. Spiders also appear in gardens, lawns, homes and other buildings. Generally, Delaware spiders can be easily classified into one of eight groups by their appearance, location and movement.
Jumping spiders represent a group of arachnids that have very short legs and bodies which are covered in hair. They move by jumping -- short, jerky movements that allow them to escape predators. They may be brightly colored and generally have relatively large eyes.
Crab spiders are named for their crab-like walk -- instead of moving forward, they will run to the side or backwards. They often make their homes on flowers and some even change colors to camouflage themselves. Since they don’t spin webs, they must hide and attack their prey unawares.
In parts of Delaware near the water, you may find fishing spiders, a variety of spider that spends most of its time on the water. They are able to walk on the surface of the water and often dive in to catch insects and even small fish, their main food sources. These spiders have highly developed senses of touch and sight to tell when predators are approaching. To protect themselves, they will stay completely still -- sometimes for as long as 45 minutes.
Orb Weave Spiders
Orb weave spiders are known for their webs, and often appear on them, waiting for prey to get stuck. They usually build at night, in garden areas where insects are plentiful. They are large and brightly colored.
Ground spiders usually do not build webs; instead, they chase their prey and attack it. The females of this group carry a large egg sac on their backs before their young hatch. They like dark, quiet spots, such as under a rock.
Extremely common in Delaware is the wolf spider, a large hairy spider that closely resembles a tarantula. Although they typically live under rocks, during the winter, they often find their way into homes, seeking shelter and warmth.
Common Household Spiders
Common household spiders are so-called because they typically live in houses and other buildings. They build cobwebs to catch insects that may be invading the building, generally in attics, basements, closets and other areas where they will not be disturbed.
Only two poisonous spiders are native to Delaware: the black widow and the brown recluse. The black widow can be easily identified by its red or orange markings on the underside of its abdomen. They prefer dark places like basements and garages and are highly poisonous. The brown recluse is an intensely shy spider that also likes dark areas. If bitten, the victim will feel an intense pain at the bite location.