I have a real website now rather than a blog. Though I will keep this one open for a while, I will no longer keep this one up. My new site, "USA Spiders" is not fully completed but getting close. I made sure to get the Michigan page finished first. :o) Please use
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Spiders verified to be here in Michigan are listed on the left sidebar. On the right sidebar, are the spiders of which pictures have been sent in to me.

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Spider Questions and IDENTIFICATION Requests
My EMAIL can be found in the above link. I am always happy to help identify a spider, but please do us both a favor and read this before emailing me. Thanks.

Describing your Spider ..... Photographing your Spider

Your Fear of Spiders
........... Spiders in your Home?


Beyond Spider Dome - Where two spiders enter and one comes out.

Spiders and Drugs - Documentary video about the effects different drugs have on spiders.

Play with a computerized spider
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Spider Diagram. - Basic anatomy of a spider.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Describing Your Spider

Whenever possible, if you can send a picture, that is the optimal way for me to help identify your spiders. However, I understand perfectly well, it is not always possible to get a picture. Some people do a decent job of describing their spiders but some others do not. So I thought I would offer a few tips on describing your spider.

1) Color and markings. Any special markings can often be a quick way to identifying a spider. The Zebra like black and white stripes of some Jumping Spiders for instance. The red hourglass of the Black Widow (though I don't expect you to see those in Michigan too often).

2) Body shape and Legs. Some spiders have long legs and others short. Some spiders have round abdomens and others have smaller thin or lengthy abdomens.

3) Size can help. It is not real important but more than just saying the size, what helps is what you are describing about the size. Is the body the size of a nickle or does that include the legs too? Are the legs around the same length at the body or twice as long?

4) The hardest thing to describe, but very helpful if you can do it, is the eye pattern. Many spiders have eight eyes but some have only six. Some spiders have two horizontal rows of four eyes each but the Wolf Spider for instance is quite different. They have one horizontal row of four smaller eyes. Above those is a pair of larger eyes and again above those is another pair of medium sized eyes.

5) If you see the spider in a web, it can even help to say if the web is a round vertical web, a flat horizontal sheet, does it end in a funnel shape? Maybe the web looks like a scattered mess?

No one of these alone can identify a spider. Two of these may and may not be enough to identify your spider. The more info you can give, the easier it is to identify a spider, but even if you give every one of these, it is not a guarantee that it will be identified. In some cases it just cannot be identified by a description, but the more you can give the better the chances.


  1. I just found a spider in my living room that... well... is different from all other spiders i have found.

    The body resembles that of an ant... a carpenter ant actually. The legs are long, but the thing that is giving me problems identifying it are the two front "legs" that are much thicker than the rest. It kind of looks like a scorpion... without the tail.

    Does anyone have any thoughts as what type of spider this is?

    P.S. - total size of said spider is between a nickle and a quarter. All black, no markings...

    1. i found something very similar in a tarp outside. it had a long abdomen, medium sized legs, the whole thing (legs included was about the size of a dime, maybe a touch bigger. White horizontal stripes. It crawled very quickly but never jumped, at all. i chased it around for about 10 minutes outside. It was very strange. Beside the white striped it did look VERY similar to a carpenter ant. If there was hair on it, it wasnt very noticeable. any luck identifying it?

    2. hi I am a 6th grader and THAT SPIDER ALMOST BIT ME (the wanted spider)I was sitting on my rug at home and the spider was crawling on my leg ,so I screamed and knocked it off my leg but I didn't kill him. unfortunately I saw the same spider next to my bed a few nights later but didn't take much of it. is that bad?!?!? :( now i'm SCARED!!!!!!!! I HATE SPIDERS!!!!!!!!

  2. Hi Bill.. If I had to guess from the description, I would guess some kind of Jumping Spider as they often have large front legs and just as often are black. I cant say how quick I can get back to you if you send me a pic right now, but I would still ask you to send one so I can search it when things settle down.

    There is another possibility. There is a Psuedo-scorpion spider, but I dont know if they are in Michigan or even the U.S. Try going to and look at these pics. If that is it, please send me a pic if you can. If not, then try googling Jumping Spiders and see if any match it.

    Sorry I cant help more right now.

  3. My mom and nanny keep finding a spider and im not sure i've seen it before. And there's a different one I keep seeing.

    The one my mom sees and i've seen once up close: for the most part the body is black, but it has stripes of white and I believe yellow. The two front legs are longer then the other six. The other six are about the size of their body. The spider is about the size of three quarters. Its round for the most part. I've never seen their web or eyes(im not getting that close).

    The one I keep seeing:the whole body is black. The legs are the same size as the rest of their body. This spider is about the size of my pinkie nail including the legs. I have not seen this spiders web or eyes.

    Im sorry if this isnt very discriptive and for any spelling errors(im just a kid).

    Also if you can identify them, are they posionous.?
    And if it helps I live in Lincoln Park, Michigan.

  4. Jumping spiders often have two front legs longer than the rest and they often have white stripes. Not sure of the yellow though. Those are harmless. On the other side of the spectrum, the Northern Black Widow can have white as well as yellow stripes on the side of its abdomen, but they usually have red on their back as well. Those are very dangerous. I would google both of those and look at images and see if any of them look like your spider. Or take a clear pic of them and send it to me.

    As for the one you see that is all black, again, that does fit different spiders. There are Jumping spiders that are all black. There are some Steotodas (a common spider that many dont know the name to), that are all black and look very much like the Black Widow but no markings. Neither is considered dangerous. A regular Black Widow is all black but has the red marking underneath.

  5. Kenneth --

    Really glad you have this section! I've been seeking an answer to my spider quandary for quite a while... at least 10 years. I haven't been able to identify this one in any books or on any websites.

    I ran into this spider in some remote woods in the Upper Peninsula. I bumped into a web and immediately noticed the thickness and strength of the web, it was unlike any I had walked through. It was also very taut -- so taut that it did not stay stuck to my hand after pulling it back. I don't recall there being a particular shape to the web.

    From one of the extremities of the web, a spider dropped down suspending itself, extending fully to at least 3 inches in diameter (I want to say it was even larger than that, but that could've been the adrenaline). The body looked just like that of a black widow (Theridiidae in family -- the legs were more spindly, but the abdomen was very large and bulbous), but it was significantly larger. After collecting it later in a jar, there were no markings upon inspection. It was pitch black, and when shaken gently in the jar it sounded as solid as a rock. Unfortunately I did not take a photo before releasing it to where I found it.

    So, in summary:
    -Very thick and taut webbing (no defined shape, if I recall correctly)
    -Solid black in color
    -Theridiidae-type body
    -Quite large, maybe 3 inches when fully extended

    Any ideas?

  6. I should add that I'm not spooked by spiders, snakes, insects, et al, and am very accustomed to the outdoors (having grown up in the U.P.). I generally have no qualms handling most of these things and think that I have seen most and can identify most. But this spider I have only seen once, and it spooked the daylights out of me.

    On one other occasion I bumped into another web, but nobody was home.

    Looking forward to your reply!


  7. Drwhahlst

    TO be honest, I dont know of that spider. I was trying to just look up images of "Black Orb Weavers" and found very few that were black and those still had some kind of markings.

    It is an Orb Weaver however, as that would explain the web. They can indeed leave large and very tough webs. For many types, the webs are in two parts. A sticky inner section and a non-sticky outer section. You may have hit the outer section so that it was not sticky.

    I really wish you could have had a picture of it. If I ever learn something, I will leave the answer here, but for now, I have to say, it will have to go into the unsolved section with my other two spiders I saw when young.

    Twice I have seen a spider with the exact same body shape and legs as a Black Widow, and was completely black, but it had round yellow dots on the abdomen. It was not an argiope nor a Northern Widow either. Another time (and only once) I saw a spider that again, had the same body and legs but the entire spider was a burgandy color with no markings. I never learned what they were and never saw them again. All three were in Madison Heights.

    1. I found the same spider in my driveway here in Waterford, Mi. a couple of months ago. I searched and searched and couldn't find any answers. It was the size and shape of a black widow, but the color was very dark, but not black. I would have to say a shade of brown or red. (it was not a brown widow) There was only very faint yellow dots on the abdomen. I saved the carcass for a long time until it decomposed and I do have pics of it, but they are not on this computer. I will try to upload them later when I have access to the other computer.

  8. I have found a all black spider that has 2 red triangles on the but and the bottom of the but it is about the size of a quarter. If anyone could till me what is please. Thank you

  9. All black (if it is shiny black) and two red triangles, sounds like the Black Widow. But the back end being the size of a quarter? That would be a huge Widow. Unless I see a pic, I cant say yes or no to that.

  10. How do I send you a pic. ? I want to know if this spider I found in our hot tube area is dangerous

  11. At the top of the page, is an Email link to my email address. Send me an email with the jpeg attached to it please.

  12. Hello I was just weed whacking my pond and came across a spider that was about the size of the $.50 piece and it had a white abdomen bighead long legs and look like to me orange fangs and I can't figure out what kind of spider it is hopefully you might be able to help me out thank you

  13. Unfortunately, this spider is not familiar to me. The most common "white" spider I can think of is the White Crab Spider, but I have never seen a pic of one with orange fangs. Then again, just because I have not seen one myself, does not mean it cant be. I sure wish you could have gotten a pic of it.

  14. I have a couple pics of a spider I came across on the side of my garage. I didn't want to get too close to him/her the body is the size of maybe a 50 cent piece and legs are thick. and the other picture is if you can shed some light or anyone if they could I'd appreciate it. I have kids that play in the backyard and I don't want to worry about this.

  15. In my life time i have only came across two brown recluse in michigan.Both i have killed one yesterday and one a few years ago. when i live in ky most bites cause like a blistering at a bite area and can cause more damage with kids and elders.But in michigan not a spider you would run in to unlike in kentucky.

  16. I found a spider that I can't find the type of. The body is a dark brown, the abdomen is tan with a dark brown circle and other dark brown markings. It has six eyes (I think), three on each side and all are the same color. It is fairly small (its body and legs would probably fit on a dime), and its web is scattered with no real organization. Also, there is another smaller spider of the same kind in the web with it.

  17. We moved into a new home last year in St Clair County, MI. There were a few of these black furry spiders each had in common one thing. One of the front legs was longer than the other. It looked about as big as a dollar coin. If I see one again I will try to capture it although they tend to escape. I hope it's not poisonous.

  18. I had a spider in my room n I am worried about my 4 week old baby. I didn't get a close up look of it but from what I did see of it it was a pretty big sized spider. It was like a tannish light brown in color and about the size of a quarter, including the legs and everything. I was just wanting to know what kind of spider it was and if it's dangerous. I didn't get to kill it because it scurried away so it's loose in my room somewhere and I'm worried about my baby and myself.

  19. I have found two very large blackish brown spiders outside of my apartment recently. both spiders look exactly the same aside from size. with legs included, the larger spider is almost the size of a dollar bill. it's front four legs are very long and slender, while it's back four are very short and slightly thicker. it's body is long and kinda thick and its head is very round and fat, about the size of a nickel. I've never seen spiders like that in any other place before. they don't look like our typical wolf spiders, more like trap door spiders. the web habits are strange too. instead of a typical web pattern, they make thin horizontal lines from one side of a doorway to the other. it collects its web and walks from one side to the other making straight lines. then it drops down the weblines and waits for something to fly past, then reaches out and grabs it.

  20. My hubby killed a spider that is white and black spider with white spots on the body. Can anyone please tell me if that kind of spider is poisonous or not.

  21. I saw a large spider ( the size of a 10 year olds hand) that was all black with a lime green stripe around its body. It must have had a hard body 'cause I dropped a traffic cone on it from a foot in the air and it fell off the spider. I found it by a lake. I didn't get close to se its eyes and I didn't see a web anywhere

  22. I have recently found a spider in my rose bush. It is rather small in size completely white with a pinkish color stripe on it . What would it be?

  23. My house is over run with spiders and i have not a clue as to what kind it is..they are gray and with a black head and the butt part is black gray spot pattern,with a black spot underneth and it has two fang looking feelers on its head and they come in all different sizes.if you know what kind of spider this is please let me know...thanks oh and i havent seen one in a web,they just run all over the house....

  24. I live in grand rapids michigan and its fall but its been quite cold. Many areas are already gettings snow. I just seen a spider hanging from its web in tree. It was rather large (to me anyway. ) much bigger then the average house spider. Probley twice or three times the size of a average house spider. Its legs were white and black stripes. But black where the legs attach to the body. Its legs were considerably long. The body was big and roundish. Also it was a redish color.

  25. i fond a spider in my room and it is as small as my pinkie nail and light brown with a white spot on its back does any one know what kind it is?

  26. My worker just found a small spider in my kitchen. It has a domed back and is gold in color with like 3 small dots down each side of it. Never seen one of these before..??

  27. I just moved to Bay City and am seeing a lot of spiders in my apartment. Some are Daddy Long Legs and easy to deal with. One type I've been seeing is quite quick, sometimes on my ceiling. I believe it is black although it could be a very dark brown (my apartment as of yet has very little lighting). It is about the size of a nickel and when I got a closer look seemed to have some kind of lines in a light brown on its back.

    The other type of spider that is giving me trouble was larger, about the size of a quarter legs and all. It was very clearly brown with long thin legs and a very clearly defined body shape with a smaller front part and a very large back end. The shadow this one had almost made it look like two spiders the back end was that large. I have a picture but it is a low quality cell phone picture and my hand was a little shaky. Any guesses on either?

  28. Hi. I am trying to ID a spider a saw when I was little. I'm not having much luck. It had a black widow shape to it. Had to be the size of a quarter or somewhat close to that. It was bright red. It had green marking lined with black. It was the only time I saw one. I don't know if it was invasive or not. I apologize I do not have a picture, but I will recognize it if I see it.

  29. I'm freaking out because I have two babies and plus I'm a baby myself when it comes to spiders. I was sitting in my rocking chair and a spider come crawling out fast as all h***. I went to get up and stomp on it but it ran from me. I needed up catching him and he was all brown with a dark stripe down his back. Not sure how many legs or eyes. But if it helps, it was in my house, and I'm located in flint, Michigan. Please help meeee I'm freaking out, scared to go ti bed and everything ������������

    1. Sorry for the typos, my phone auto corrects.
      But I meant ended, not needed