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12 Common Spiders in Alaska (Pictures)

Alaska is the coldest state in the US. Because of this fact, one might wonder if there are spiders in Alaska. Despite its sometimes brutal winters, Alaska is actually home to a slew of spider species that are not affected by the harsh cold. This is because spiders are cold-blooded, which means they don’t need warmth during the winter. Instead, their bodies go into diapause, which is a suspended development phase. Keep reading to learn about some of the most common spiders found in Alaska.

12 Common Spiders in Alaska

Alaska is known for its harsh weather and beautiful landscape. It is also home to over 600 species of spiders. That’s a lot of different spiders, and while we cannot list them all, we can take a look at the most common spiders in Alaska.

1. Wolf Spider

A wolf spider
A wolf spider | Image by lolaclinton from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Lycosidae spp.

One of the most commonly seen spiders in Alaska is the wolf spider. These large and frightening-looking spiders can grow to several inches long and are typically dark in color.

Wolf spiders are hunting spiders, meaning they don’t make a web to catch their prey and instead they go out and chase their prey down. While wolf spiders may look scary, they pose no threat to humans and are not aggressive.

2. Common House Spider

Common house spider
Common house spider | image by Christoph Zurnieden via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Parasteatoda tepidariorum

The common house spider features that iconic spider-like appearance with a bulb-shaped abdomen. They are found in homes and buildings all over Alaska. Thankfully, they pose no risk to humans or pets.

They can range in color from all black to various hues or brown, tan, and gray. They may or may not have different patterns on their bodies. Common house spiders are smaller, measuring only about ¼ inch in size.

3. Hacklemesh Weavers

Hacklemesh weaver
Hacklemesh weaver on its web | image by D. Sikes via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Callobius pictus

The hacklemesh weaver has a dark reddish brown-colored body and is found under stones, leaf litter, and tree bark. They can have a shiny appearance and measure about ¼ inch long.

Sometimes, the hacklemesh weaver is mistaken for the brown recluse. However, hacklemesh weavers are not poison and does not feature the violin shape that the brown recluse is known for.

4. Trapdoor Spider

Trapdoor spider on sand grains
Trapdoor spider on sand grains | image by Jean and Fred Hort via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Ctenizidae spp.

Trap door spiders are large, plump spiders that are dark and shiny. Their body alone can measure over 1 inch long. These spiders create an underground burrow that is closed off by a door.

This door has a hinge-like feature that lets the spider flip it open, grab its prey, and drag them inside. The door then closes behind them, protecting the spider from an attack.

5. Cellar Spiders

Cellar spider
A cellar spider | Image by Eliza from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Pholcidae spp.

As their name would suggest, cellar spiders are a common sight in cellars and basements in Alaska. They are thin and long, with legs that can grow up to 2 inches long. Their bodies measure less than half an inch and have a peanut-shape.

These spiders will start to vibrate and even appear to spin when their webs are bothered. This action has led to them getting the nickname “vibrating spiders.”

6. Bold Jumping Spider

Bold jumping spider on leaf
Bold jumping spider on leaf | image by Brian Tomlinson via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Phidippus audax

The bold jumping spider is just one of the many species of jumping spiders in Alaska. As with most jumping spiders, the bold variety is small, measuring between 4 and 14 millimeters long.

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It has a black body with white markings on its legs and abdomen and vibrant metallic green fangs. They are hunting spiders and look similar to a tarantula, only much smaller.

7. European Garden Spider

European garden spider
European garden spider | image by DamPappa via Flickr

Scientific Name: Araneus diadematus

European garden spiders are a common sight in gardens in Alaska. These types of spiders create an elaborate web between plants and then sit in the middle waiting for prey.

The European garden spider a small arachnid that has a brown, gray, yellow, or tan colored body. Their abdomen features white markings on four segments that create a cross.

8. Red Spotted Ant Mimic Spider

Red-spotted ant mimic spider
Red-spotted ant mimic spider | image by David Hill via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Castianeira descripta

The red spotted ant mimic spider is another commonly found spider in Alaska. It has a black body with orange or reddish markings located on its back.

They are often seen under rocks but can sometimes find their way indoors. The reason why they are named “ant mimic spiders” is because they will sometimes walk holding their two front appendages in the air and twitch them. This makes the spider look like an ant with 6 legs and two antennae.

9. Running Crab Spider

Running crab spider
Running Crab Spider resting | image by alexey_yabs via iNaturalist

Scientific Name: Philodromus

Running crab spiders are found in forests or pastures near a water source. Sometimes, however, they will make their way indoors. These spiders are hunters, meaning they don’t create a web to catch their prey and instead go looking for their next meal.

They are rather fast and have a gray or brown colored body that looks a bit flat. Their front legs are a little longer than their other legs, which gives them a crab-like appearance.

10. American Grass Spider

American grass spider on a leaf
American grass spider on a leaf | image by Judy Gallagher via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Agelenopsis

American grass spiders are a common arachnid found throughout the United States, including Alaska. They are fast runners and are often seen in tall grass.

They have a brown-colored body with dark stripes going from their head to their abdomen on both sides of their body. These spiders are funnel weaves, which create a web that is shaped like a funnel.

11. Fishing Spider

Fishing spider
Fishing spider | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Dolomedes spp.

Fishing spiders are one of the largest spiders in Alaska, and can have a leg span of over 3 inches. They are semi-aquatic that hunt around water sources.

These spiders are covered with short hairs that allow them to run or stand on the surface of the water without getting wet. While their prey is usually insects, they will sometimes catch and feed on small fish.

12. Spitting Spider

spitting spider close up
Spitting Spider | image by Mike Keeling via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific Name: Scytodidae spp.

As its name suggests, the spitting spider spits venomous webs from its head. It has a light brown body covered in a darker brown pattern or spots. Their legs are also light brown and feature dark brown bands.

It is a small spider that has a body less than ¼ inch long and a leg span of less than an inch in length. The spitting spider is a rather unusual arachnid for a few reasons, not only because it spits its web to catch its prey, but also because the cephalothorax of this spider is larger than its abdomen.