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12 Spiders Found in Virginia

Nicole Cosgrove

There are over 60 different spider species found in Virginia, although a large portion of these are rare or at least rarely seen. That said, it’s important to remember that their distribution is also subject to change and not determined by state lines, as spiders can easily be accidentally or intentionally transported into new areas.

Of the dozens of spiders native to Virginia, only two are poisonous, and one of which is rarely seen in Virginia, anyway. It’s impossible to list all the species of spiders found in the state, but here, we provide an overview of 12 of the most common ones.

divider-spider

12 Spiders Found in Virginia

Venomous spiders found in Virginia:

1. Black Widow (Northern)

Northern Black Widow - Latrodectus variolus, Woodbridge, Virginia
Northern Black Widow – Latrodectus variolus, Woodbridge, Virginia (Image Credit: Judy Gallagher, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic)
Species: Latrodectus variolus
Longevity: 1 – 3 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 0.5 – 1.5 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Northern Black Widow needs no introduction and is one of the most widely known venomous spiders in the world. Males and females look different in black widows, with females typically being larger than males. The Northern species can be distinguished from the Southern species through the females too. In Northern females, the characteristic red hourglass on their abdomen is divided in two, while the Southern varieties are joined together.


2. Black Widow (Southern)

Latrodectus Mactans
Latrodectus Mactans (Image Credit: BrunoSchalch, Flickr CC 2.0 Generic)
Species: Lactrodectus mactans
Longevity: 1 – 3 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 0.5 – 1 inch
Diet: Carnivorous

The Southern Black Widow is similar to their Northern cousin, and the two are often confused. Both varieties are venomous, although bites will not cause death except in highly rare cases. Young children, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to bites, and while healthy adults are usually fine, they will still suffer from various symptoms including nausea, muscle cramps, sweating and fever, and headaches.

These spiders are found throughout the southeastern United States, and their habitat frequently overlaps with the Northern variety.


3. Brown Recluse

Brown Recluse Spider close up_Pong Wira_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Pong Wira, Shutterstock
Species: Loxosceles reclusa
Longevity: 1 – 2 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 0.5 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Brown Recluse is one of the most feared spiders in the world, and while there is good reason for this, their reputation is somewhat undeserved. As the name suggests, these spiders are shy and reclusive and do not wander far from their nest. While their bite is cytotoxic and can potentially cause a great deal of skin damage, they are not aggressive and will only bite in defense, and even then it is often a “dry bite” — a warning bite free of venom.

These spiders are easily identified by the pattern in the shape of a violin on their thorax (not their abdomen), also giving them the common name “Violin Spider.”


Largest spiders found in Virginia:

4. Tiger Wolf Spider

Tigrosa aspersa - wolf spider (30610561848)
Tigrosa aspersa – wolf spider (30610561848) (Image Credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic)
Species: Tigrosa aspersa
Longevity: 1 – 3 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 3 – 4 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The Tiger Wolf Spider is one of the largest spiders found in Virginia, with their tarantula-like appearance leading to them being commonly kept as pets. These spiders do not make webs but instead, hunt their prey down by pouncing onto it. They typically live in small burrows with silken doors. They have eight eyes like all spiders, but two are much larger, and this is the easiest way of telling them apart from similar-looking species.

Wolf spiders have small amounts of venom that they use to disable and kill their prey once they catch it, but they are not deadly to humans, and bites will only cause mildly uncomfortable symptoms.


5. Yellow Garden Spider

Yellow Garden Spider 1
Yellow Garden Spider 1 (Image Credit: Donald Hines, Flickr CC 2.0 Generic)
Species: Argiope aurantia
Longevity: 1 – 2 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 0.5 – 1 inch
Diet: Carnivorous

Yellow Garden Spiders belong to the orb-weaving groups, are generally a non-aggressive species, and produce a venom that is largely harmless to humans. They spin large, circular webs to catch their prey and have large black abdomens with yellow stripes on their sides. These spiders have a feared reputation, and people often remove them from their gardens, but they rarely bite and are actually beneficial to have in your yard.


6. Nursery Web Spider

Nursery Web Spider
Nursery Web Spider (Image Credit: Katja Schulz, Flickr CC 2.0 Generic)
Species: Pisaurina mira
Longevity: 1 – 2 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 0.5 – 0.7 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

Nursery Web Spiders closely resemble Wolf Spiders, although they don’t have the two prominent large eyes of Wolf Spiders — Nursery Spider’s eyes are all the same size. These spiders can be found almost everywhere, except extremely cold or dry environments, and they are known for their ability to walk on still bodies of water. They are also known for their jumping abilities and can jump 5–6 inches in a single leap! They are mildly venomous, but their venom is not enough to harm a human.


Other Common Spiders in Virginia:

7. Giant Lichen Orb-Weaver Spider

Araneus bicentenarius 84400223
Araneus bicentenarius 84400223 (Image Credit: Annika Lindqvist, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic)
Species: Araneus bicentenarius
Longevity: 1 year
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 0.7 – 1 inch
Diet: Carnivorous

As the name suggests, the Giant Lichen Orb Weaver is a large, heavy spider that spins elaborate webs to catch their prey, with intricate brown markings that resemble lichen on a rock. They are not highly venomous to humans, and their bite can be compared to a bee sting. They are often confused with the European Garden Spider but can easily be distinguished by the lack of the characteristic cross-shaped marking on their back.

Related Read: 10 Spiders Found in Pennsylvania


8. Long-Legged Sac Spider

Long-legged Sac Spider - Cheiracanthium sp., Pateros, Washington
Long-legged Sac Spider – Cheiracanthium sp., Pateros, Washington (Image Credit: Judy Gallagher, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic)
Species: Cheiracanthuim mildei
Longevity: 1 – 2 years
Good to own as a pet?: No
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 0.5 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

Often confused for the Brown Recluse but lacking the characteristic violin markings on their back, the Long-legged Sac Spider is often found in suburban homes, under beds, in closets, and the corner of ceilings. As their name suggests, they build small sacs for resting inside of, and their long legs give them the high speed that they need to ambush and catch their prey. They are not aggressive spiders but will bite if they feel threatened. The bite is non-lethal to humans but can be painful and slow to heal.


9. Southern House Spider

Kukulcania hibernalis male
Kukulcania hibernalis male (Image Credit: Mike, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Species: Kukulcania hibernalis
Longevity: 1 year on average, up to 7 years for females
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 1 inch
Diet: Carnivorous

The Southern House Spider is a large arachnid found frequently in homes and barns throughout the United States. They are not known for having a dangerous bite, but it may be painful and cause mild swelling. They exhibit strong sexual dimorphism, with males being more streamlined with longer legs and females being stocky and darker in color. Females are rarely seen because they tend to stay near their webs and catch food, but males are often seen wandering in search of prey. Interestingly, these spiders are not aggressive, and in fact, they are known to play dead when they feel threatened.

Related Read: 11 Spiders Species Found in Indiana (With Pictures)


10. Brown Widow Spider

Brown widow spider Latrodectus geometricus backside
Brown widow spider Latrodectus geometricus backside (Image Credit: Darklich14, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Species: Latrodectus geometricus
Longevity: 1 – 3 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 0.5 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

The close cousin of the infamous Black Widow, the Brown Widow’s bite is usually far less severe than a Black Widow’s because they inject less venom, although this venom is actually far more potent. They are generally smaller and lighter in color than Black Widows, with distinct stripes on their legs. They also have the distinctive hourglass pattern, but it is yellow/orange in color as opposed to red. Recent studies have found that the Brown Widows may be a threat to Black Widow populations because they compete for territory and may be hostile toward them.


11. Common House Spider

Parasteatoda tepidariorum ♀ (C. L. Koch, 1841) 1
Parasteatoda tepidariorum ♀ (C. L. Koch, 1841) 1 (Image Credit: Géry PARENT, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Species: Parasteatoda tepidariorum
Longevity: 1 year
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 0.5 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

Often confused with the Brown Widow, the Common House Spider is found in homes throughout the U.S. and is not aggressive or dangerous to humans. These spiders have poor vision and cannot detect movement more than 3–4 inches away from them. They will play dead if they feel like they are in danger. They are strong spiders, though, and can successfully subdue prey much larger than themselves.


12. False Widow

Steatoda grossa
Steatoda grossa (Image Credit: AJC1, Flickr CC SA 2.0 Generic)
Species: Steatoda grossa
Longevity: 1 – 6 years
Good to own as a pet?: Yes
Legal to own?: Yes
Adult size: 0.5 inches
Diet: Carnivorous

As their name suggests, False Widows closely resemble Black Widows and are often mistaken as such. They have similar dark-colored, globular bodies, but their markings can vary between individuals, and they don’t have the distinct red hourglass of Black Widows. They are not as dangerous either, and their bite will be mildly painful with slight swelling, redness, and headaches. These symptoms don’t last long in most people.

new spider divider

Conclusion

Of the over 60 spider species found in Virginia, only two pose a significant threat to humans, and even these will rarely prove fatal. Most of the spiders in Virginia stay far away from humans, preferring to build their webs and homes outdoors. Some, however, can always be found in and around homes, and these are the most important to be able to properly identify.


Featured Image Credit: Ian Redding, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.