Spiders are found throughout North America, and throughout the United States, including Michigan. Most spiders are harmless to people, even though they look very strange, and have had many scary stories written about them. Most spiders are dark-colored, with black and brown being the typical colors. A few are quite colorful, and many black spiders also have bright markings that help us identify them.
Here are a few common, and a few uncommon black spiders, with some key facts about them, and some pictures to help you distinguish them when you see them in the wild.
Types of Black Spiders in Michigan
1. Black Widow Spider
Scientific name: Latrodectus sp.
The black widow spider comes in two varieties; the Northern Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus various), and the Southern Black Widow Spider (Latrodectus mactans). Both kinds of black widow spiders have a red “hourglass” shape in the middle. However, the two can be distinguished because the red mark of the Southern Black Widow Spider is solid.
The hourglass mark of the Northern Black Widow spider is broken into two distinct triangles. The Northern Black Widow Spider is more common in Michigan, but both kinds have been spotted. Black widow spiders can grow to be a half inch long.
The Black Widow Spider prefers secluded places, in forests, stumps, piles of logs, or old sheds. The bite of the black widow spider is probably the most poisonous of spiders.
These spiders are not aggressive, but their venom is very toxic and can cause nausea, cramps, vomiting, and heavy sweating. Some people have even died from black widow spider bites.
2. Parsons Spider
Scientific name: Herpyllus ecclesiasticus
The Parsons Spider has its name because a white mark on its abdomen reminded people of a priest’s or parson’s collar. This spider does not build a web but instead hunts its prey at night by chasing it down.
During the day, they hide beneath rocks and sticks. They are usually found in forests but sometimes they come into houses or buildings.
The bite of a Parsons Spider isn’t terribly dangerous, but some people have an allergic reaction. In this case, the victim may experience a bump and rash.
3. Jumping Zebra Spider
Scientific name: Salticus scenic
The Jumping Zebra Spider has black and white stripes. It grows to about a quarter inch in size. In general, any sort of jumping spider hunts by stalking its prey and pouncing, rather than building a web.
Jumping Zebra Spiders are often found in open places where they can hunt. A wall or other flat surface is preferred. They will often be found in homes, but they are not dangerous to people.
4. Garden Spider
Scientific name: Argiope aurantia
This spider is sometimes called the Black and Yellow Garden Spider. Black and yellow garden spiders are usually found in open fields, pastures, or gardens. These spiders can range in size between 1/4 inch and a little over an inch.
They build large webs that hang from plants, in order to catch insects. While a garden spider might bite if a person attacks them, they are not poisonous enough to be harmful.
5. Black Lace-Weaver Spider
Scientific name: Amaurobius ferox
Black Lace-Weaver Spiders are nocturnal hunting spiders that hide under rocks, logs, or leaves in the daytime. They are sometimes found hiding indoors in houses and buildings.
They are large spiders, with round abdomens. Sometimes, the Black Lace-Weaver Spider has a white or yellow pattern on its abdomen that looks like a skull. At night, they emerge from their hiding places to hunt for food and for mates.
The Black Lace-Weaver Spider lays up to 180 eggs. She then spins an egg sac of spider silk to protect these eggs. After the eggs hatch, the Black Lace-Weaver Spider lays a number of eggs for the baby spiders to eat.
The spiderlings live on these eggs until they molt. At that point, the baby spiders then devour the mother and slowly leave their original nest.
6. Fierce Orb-Weaver Spider
Scientific name: Araneus saevus
The Fierce Orb-Weaver Spider is a black and gray spider found in Michigan, and elsewhere in North America. Orb-weaver spiders build round spider webs and wait for their prey to land on the web.
While it waits, the spider curls up its legs under its body, as a way of hiding or playing dead. It has two large bumps, one on each side of the abdomen, a white stripe, and two white spots on its abdomen as well.
Because the Fierce Orb-Weaver builds a large web, it likes to live in woods, and can often be found in garden landscapes with vertical surfaces. There have not been many reported incidents of poisonous bites by this spider, but the few that have been noted have involved painful swelling and redness.
7. Dark Fishing Spider
Scientific name: Dolomedes tenebrous
Although it is called a “fishing spider,” this spider is often found far away from water. Instead, it builds webs in trees in forests. It ranges in size between a quarter-inch and an inch.
After mating, the mother Dark Fishing Spider builds a special nursery web, in which she lays her eggs. She will guard this web until the eggs hatch, and the baby spiders go off their separate ways.
The bite of this spider is mildly poisonous, about like a bee sting. Fortunately, Dark Fishing Spiders don’t attack very often. They aren’t quite black, but have black coloring on their bodies.
8. Euophres monadnock
This is an uncommon spider in Michigan, usually found further east in New England. It has been sighted a few times in Michigan, however. It is included here because it has bright orange legs, and looks very distinctive if you should encounter one.
9. Bold Jumping Spider
Scientific name: Phidippus audax
The Bold Jumping Spider is a black spider with orange spots on its abdomen, and bright, shiny blue mouthparts.
It does not build a web but instead hunts prey by searching and pouncing. The Bold Jumping Spider uses spider silk to make egg cases and to make lines to attach to surfaces when making jumps.
Like other jumping spiders, the Bold Jumping Spider prefers open, vertical surfaces for hunting. It might be found on trees, walls, or in similar places.
While people have been bitten by Bold Jumping Spiders, the bite is usually not dangerous unless a person is allergic.
10. Triangulate Cobweb Spider
Scientific name: Steatoda triangulosa
The Triangulate Cobweb Spider lives mainly in houses and buildings. It is a black spider with a very distinctive pattern of brown triangles on either side of its body.
The Triangulate Cobweb Spider grows to be between one-eighth and one-quarter inches long. It builds an irregularly shaped cobweb in dark corners and hidden places in buildings where it can hide.
Cobweb spiders have bad vision and rely on the vibrations of their cobwebs to tell them when the prey has landed in their lair, or when larger creatures are disturbing it.
Cobweb spiders are too small to injure a person with their bites unless someone is allergic and has a reaction.
11. Ant Mimic Spider
Scientific name: Castianeira longipalpa
The ant mimic spider lives in forests and hides under fallen branches, rocks, and leaves. It is usually a quarter to a half inch in size. As the name suggests, the ant mimics spider hunts ants. It often raises its two front legs to look like the antennae of carpenter ants. The bite of the ant mimic spider is not poisonous to people, and it cannot hurt you.