Delaware may be the second smallest state in the United States, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in natural beauty. The state is home to many forests, rivers, and coastal areas that serve as home to a variety of different animals. From otters to foxes, you can find many different creatures throughout the state. Additionally, there are also many different spiders in Delaware, from unique sheet weavers to venomous widows. In this article, we’ll explore 10 different spiders that live in The First State and how you can identify them.
#10: European Garden Spider
Also known as the diadem spider, cross spider, or crowned orb weaver, the European garden spider belongs to the orb weaver family Araneidae. While they are native to Europe, you can also find these spiders in Delaware and throughout North America.
Fully grown females measure from 6.5 to 20 millimeters long, while males range from 5.5 to 13 millimeters. Their colors can vary from light-yellow to dark-grey. However, all European garden spiders have mottled white markings on their abdomens and for lines that form a cross.
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As is common with some orb weavers, females will occasionally eat males after mating. That said, their prey mostly consists of insects that stumble into their webs. The prey is quickly wrapped in silk and then paralyzed with a venomous bite. Although European garden spiders are venomous, they rarely bite humans, and their bite isn’t considered dangerous to humans.
#9: Northern Yellow Spider Bag
The northern yellow sac spider belongs to the genus Cheiracanthium, or sac spiders, in the family Cheiracanthiidae. A native to Africa, Europe, and Asia, you can now also find them throughout the United States and South America.
Most northern yellow sac spiders range from 7 to 10 millimeters long, with females measuring larger than males. Despite their name, they typically look pale green or tan rather than yellow. Their legs end in double claws and their front pair is nearly twice as long as the other legs.
Unlike most spiders, northern yellow sac spiders don’t use webs to catch prey. Instead, they rely on their quickness and keen eyesight to actively hunt other insects. That said, they do build sac webs that they hide in when not hunting to protect themselves from predators. Although they are one of the most poisonous spiders in Delaware, their bite is generally mild.
#8: Bowl and Doily Spider
The bowl and doily spider is one of the smallest spiders in Delaware. A member of the sheet weaver family Linyphiidae, most specimens measure only 4 millimeters long. It typically lives in forests and woods in both alpine and tropical climate zones.
Bowl and doily spiders typically appear reddish-brown, although their legs have a yellowish hue. Meanwhile, their abdomens feature white dots along each side as well as short hairs.
To catch prey, bowl and doily spiders construct unique webs. Their webs consist of an inverted dome, or bowl, suspended over a horizontal sheet, or doily, which is where they get their name. They then hang from the bowl and wait to attack prey that falls into the non-sticky sheet webbing below. Additionally, unlike most spiders, female and male bowl and doily spiders will cohabit with one another longer than is required to mate.
#7: Daring Jumping Spider
The daring jumping spider, or bold jumper, belongs to the jumping spider family Salticidae. It is widely distributed throughout North America, with a range extending from Canada to Mexico.
The daring jumping spider is one of the larger jumping spiders in Delaware. Females measure 4 to 18 millimeters in length but average around 11 millimeters. Meanwhile, males range from 4 to 15 millimeters long with an average of 8 millimeters. They are mostly black and feature red, orange, or blue spots on their abdomens and stripes on their legs. Additionally, they sport large, bright green or blue chelicerae or mouthparts.
Like other jumping spiders, daring jumping spiders have excellent stereoscopic vision. They rely on their keen vision and agility to help them stalk and catch prey, as they don’t build webs. Daring jumping spiders rarely bite humans, but when they do, their bite can cause pain, redness, and swelling.
#6: Black and Yellow Garden Spider
The black and yellow garden spider is one of the most common spiders in Delaware. It belongs to the orb weaver family Araneidae and ranges throughout the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Like other orb weavers, female black and yellow garden spiders often eat the males shortly after mating.
Female black and yellow garden spiders measure 19 to 28 millimeters long, while males measure 5 to 9 millimeters long. As their name suggests, they feature distinctive black, yellow, and silver markings on their abdomens.
Black and yellow garden spiders build large circular webs in fields or under the eaves of houses. Their webs contain zigzag X-and-Z shapes, which is why they also go by the name writing spiders gold zigzag spiders. Although they will bite when threatened, their bite is not normally threatening to humans. At worst, their bite is comparable to a mild bee sting.
#5: Dark Fishing Spider
The dark fishing spider belongs to the nursery web spider family Pisauridae. It is one of the most common fishing spiders in Delaware and its range extends throughout the eastern and central United States.
At their longest, female dark fishing spiders can measure 2.5 centimeters long, while males barely reach half that size. They typically appear brown or gray and feature dark spots and spines on their legs. Aside from their dark leg markings, you can identify them by the W-shaped markings on their abdomens.
Like other fishing spiders, they are active hunters that do not rely on webs to catch prey. Their preferred methods include running across the surface of the water to catch insects or diving below the surface to nab small fish. Female dark fishing spiders do build webs, but only to hold their eggs, which is why they belong to the nursery web spider family.
#4. Northern Black Widow
The northern black widow is one of the most venomous spiders in Delaware. A member of the cobweb spider family Theridiidae, it is commonly found throughout the eastern and northern United States as well as southern Canada.
Female northern black widows measure between 9 and 11 millimeters long, while males measure from 4 to 5 millimeters in length. Their bodies appear efficiently black and feature a red hourglass-shaped marking on their abdomens. That said, the hourglass usually appears broken, which makes them distinguishable from southern black widows, as they have an intact hourglass.
The bite of a northern black widow can cause latrodectism, an illness carried in the venom of various widow spiders. Common symptoms include pain, vomiting, sweating, and muscle stiffness. Although death is rare, it does occasionally happen, particularly if the person was very young or had a weak immune system.
#3. Red-Spotted Ant Mimic
The red-spotted ant mimic belongs to the araneomorph spider family Corinnidae, or corinnid sac spiders. It gets its name from the fact that it mimics the appearance of an ant by walking on 6 legs while using its forelegs like antennae. In this manner, it’s able to blend in with ants, thereby allowing it to stalk its prey without raising suspicion.
Adult female red-spotted ant mimics measure 5 to 13 centimeters long and males measure about half that size. Their bodies look predominantly black but they have reddish-brown abdomens. Additionally, they feature a white line running down the center of their carapaces.
Unlike most other spiders, red-spotted ant mimics do not use webs to hunt prey, although females do spin sacs for their eggs. You’re most likely to find these spiders in parks or wooded areas near anthills. Their cock can be painful but is relatively harmless to humans.
#2: American Nursery Web Spider
The American nursery web spider is the second member of the family Pisauridae on our list of spiders in Delaware. It is widely distributed across the eastern half of North America and is usually found near vegetation or water lines.
Female American nursery web spiders measure up to 19 millimeters long, while males measure smaller than females. Most specimens have tan or brownish bodies as well as very long legs. People sometimes mistake them for wolf spiders due to their similar appearance.
American nursery web spiders build webs to hold their eggs but not to hunt. To obtain food, they wander around and employ sit-and-wait ambush tactics to capture prey. Additionally, females often cannibalize males shortly after mating. To avoid being eaten, males will bind females’ legs with silk threads. Although they are poisonous, their bite is not considered threatening to humans.
#1. Wetland Giant Wolf Spider
Tigrosa hello, or the wetland giant wolf spider, is one of several wolf spiders in Delaware. A member of the family Lycosidae, it is native to North America and primarily found in the eastern United States. Its preferred habitats include forests, fields, and marshes that feature plenty of water, which is where it gets its name.
Most wetland giant wolf spiders measure around 17 millimeters long, with females measuring larger than males. They possess brown carapaces and a distinctive yellow stripe down the cephalothorax, as well as dark spots under their abdomens.
Like other wolf spiders, wetland giant wolf spiders are active hunters that live most of their lives alone. They do not build webs to catch prey and instead rely on their excellent eyesight and reflexes. Wetland giant wolf spiders rarely attack humans and their bite is not considered dangerous.