Common Spiders of British Columbia

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British Columbia is a haven for lovers of unspoiled nature, a fact reflected in its Latin motto: Splendor sine occasu (splendor without diminishment). This westernmost Canadian providence is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Among this bounty is more than 700 species of spiders.

Western Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus)

  • Western black widows are the only widow species that abound in British Columbia. They are most prominent in the southern regions. Both males and females of the species carry the distinctive red or orange hourglass marking on the abdomen. This is where male/female similarity end. Females are shiny and black with a large abdomen, and are twice the size of the light brown males. Females are more venomous than males. However, do not handle or approach either sex, as both can carry a dangerous bite.

Hobo Spider (Tegenaria agrestis)

  • These funnel-weavers had their introduction to southern Canada and the northwestern U.S. via European cargo ships. Hobo spiders are fairly large in size and light brown with long legs and slim bodies. A common myth is you can identify them easily by their "boxing glove" palps. In reality, they appear similar to giant house spiders and barn funnel-weavers. While not particularly aggressive, hobo spiders can deliver a powerful, necrotic venom.

Garden Orb Weaver (Araneus diadematus)

  • While British Columbia has a variety of orb weavers throughout, the garden spider is by far one of the most common. Found most often in wooded areas or gardens, garden spiders can range in color from a pale orange-brown to dark brown. A distinctive feature is the white, cross-shaped marking on the abdomen. These arachnids are non-aggressive and non-venomous. They are well known for their skills as intricate web weavers and master trappers.

Cat-faced Spider (Araneus gemmoides)

  • Another common orb weaver throughout BC, the cat-faced spider enjoys building webs close to light sources, so humans encounter it frequently. Cat-faced spiders have their name due to parallel bumps on the abdomen (cat ears), between which are white markings that resemble a feline's face. Most are orange-brown in color and have hairy legs. Roughly the size of a quarter, they can cause alarm among humans who notice them near porch lights. However, they are harmless to humans, and their control of the insect population makes them good spiders to keep around.

Cellar Spider (Pholcus phalangioides)

  • Cellar spiders, as indicated by the name, live within the dark recesses of homes. Their most defining characteristics are long, fused bodies and extremely long, thin legs. The legs of cellar spiders are the reason for lumping them into the "Daddy longlegs" category. After mating, female cellar spiders will transport their clutches of eggs in their mouths. Cellar spiders are harmless to humans and effective eliminators of other household pests.

Wolf Spider (Family Lycosidae)

  • There are various spiders in the wolf spider family, many of which are abundant throughout British Columbia. Color-wise, they blend into their environments. However, wolf spiders all have large, hairy bodies (up to 1.2 inches) and wide leg spans. Their name refers to the fact they hunt prey on foot instead of building webs. These ground-dwelling arachnids are swift and agile. A wolf spider bite can be painful, but their venom is not especially dangerous to humans.

References

  • Photo Credit spider image by wilmar huisman from Fotolia.com
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