Florida Spiders: A Guide to Local Species
Florida has a very diverse population of spiders, and it is home to a whopping 59 different species! We put together a list of some of the most common and some of the coolest of these species, so next time you see a spider you’ll know what kind it is and whether or not it’s venomous.
Brown Recluse spiders are light brown in color and are the most common house spiders. They have a dark brown violin shape on their cephalothorax, which is the front body segment where the legs attach. Hopefully, you’ll never be close enough to a brown recluse to see its eyes, but if you are, you’ll notice that it only has 6 eyes. Most spiders have 8 eyes.
Widow Spiders. There are four types of widow spiders in Florida, and you definitely don’t want to run into any of them. First, there is the northern black widow. These spiders are shiny and black with two red dots on their backs and a red hourglass that is not connected in the middle on their bellies. It is important to note that the hourglass is not connected, because it is used to differentiate the northern black widow from the southern black widow. Southern black widows are also black and shiny, but the hourglass shape on their abdomens is connected in the middle. The third Floridian species of widow is the red widow which, like its cousins, has a black, shiny abdomen. However, its legs and cephalothorax are bright reddish-orange, and its abdomen has red spots that are outlined in yellow. The final species, the brown widow, is mottled with brown and tan with black markings. Brown widows do have an hourglass marking, but its color is closer to orange than red.
Arrow-shaped Micrathenas get their name from the shape of their abdomens, which resemble arrow-heads. Females are brightly colored with yellow, reddish, and black and they have spines protruding from their abdomens. Males are smaller than females and do not have spines.
Carolina Wolf Spiders are the biggest of all the wolf spiders in North America. They grow to be between 25 and 35 millimeters. They are hunting spiders, so they don’t spin webs. Instead, they hide in debris or dig a burrow in the dirt, as they are colored to camouflage well on the ground.
Crab spiders are named for their crab-like appearance. Crab spiders do not spin webs, but rather lay in wait on flowers, ready to snatch their prey. These spiders are so good at camouflaging themselves that they can even change their color from white to yellow by controlling pigment production. The process takes a while though, generally between 2 and 21 days, so they prefer to pick one flower and stay there.
Golden Silk Orb-weavers are one of the largest orb-weavers in the United States, with females growing up to 40 millimeters long. Males are tiny in comparison, only growing to about 6 millimeters. As their name suggests, they are golden-yellow in color. A female may have several males temporarily living on her web at any given time. Webs often have multiple barrier webs surrounding it. Most orb weaving spiders do not have barrier webs because they take their webs down each morning and rebuild it again at night when they are ready to hunt. Barrier webs would be an unnecessary hassle. Golden silk orb-weavers, however, do not take down their webs, but rather patch it up when necessary.
Green Lynx Spiders are named for their vivid green color, as well as their agility while hunting that is reminiscent of a lynx. They have green bodies with red and white markings and long, spiny legs. They do not spin webs, because they are able to so easily chase after their prey, leaping from leaf to leaf. When they feel threatened, green lynx spiders can spit venom as far as 8 inches. Pregnant females of this species can change their color to blend in with a green, purple, white, or yellow background. The process takes approximately 16 days.
Mabel Orchard Orb-weavers are very colorful spiders. Their backs are silvery with dark stripes, and their bellies are blue, green, red, silver, or yellow with an orange, red, or yellow crescent. These spiders have adapted to an impressively large range of conditions and are found from Canada all the way to Colombia. They are beneficial to have in crops and gardens because they are quite effective at reducing the populations of crop pests and mosquitoes.
Magnolia Green Jumpers are small spiders that only grow to be between 5 and 8 millimeters. They are a translucent green color with black spots on their abdomens. They also have a crown of tiny scales that are orange, red, white, and yellow. Physically they are different from other jumping spiders in that they are not hairy and their legs are long and thin. They can still jump just as far, though, which is how they catch their prey.
Silver Garden Spiders grow to be quite large. Females are generally about 1.3 inches long, and males are about 2 centimeters. They have silver bodies, and their abdomens are bumpy with black, orange, and yellow markings. Their legs are long and striped. Silver garden spider webs are easy to identify, as they will add a zig-zag pattern with thicker silk in different spots around their webs. Females of this species eat the males after mating.
Spiny Orb Weavers are extremely recognizable due to the red spines around the edges of their bodies. They are usually white, yellow, or orange in color with dark spots. They put tufts of silk in spots around their webs to prevent birds from flying into them.
Who knew there was such a wide variety of spiders in Florida? Hopefully, if you happen upon any spiders, they are outside in nature. But, if you’ve been seeing more than a few in your home or business, give Excel a call and we’ll send over one of our experienced technicians.
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