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8 Common Spiders in Massachusetts (Pics)

Spiders are often feared and misunderstood creatures. Many people think of them as dangerous, even though the vast majority of spiders are harmless to humans. In fact, spiders can be beneficial to have around, as they help to control populations of pests like flies and mosquitoes. If you’re curious about the different common types of spiders that you might encounter in Massachusetts, read on for more information.

8 Common Spiders in Massachusetts

Did you know that there are over 40 different spider species in Massachusetts? Below are 8 of the most common:

1. American Grass Spider

Grass spider on white
Grass spider | image by Andrey Zharkikh via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Agelenopsis
  • Adult Size: 9 to 20 mm (0.35 to 0.78 inches)
  • Family: Agelenidae
  • Lifespan: 1 to 2 years

The American grass spider is a small, brown spider found in gardens and fields throughout Massachusetts. These spiders are beneficial to have around, as they help to control populations of harmful insects.

American grass spiders build small, spherical webs in the grass, using the silken threads to capture their prey. These spiders are primarily active at night, and they can often be found hiding in the center of their web during the day. If you see an American grass spider in your garden, there is no need to be alarmed – these harmless creatures can actually be quite beneficial to the environment.

2. Dark Fishing Spider

Dark fishing spider
Dark fishing spider | image by Katja Schulz via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Dolomedes tenebrosus 
  • Adult Size: 6.8 to 25.4 mm (0.27 to 1 inch)
  • Family: Pisauridae 
  • Lifespan: 2 years

The dark fishing spider is a common sight in Massachusetts. These spiders are usually found near water, where they hunt for prey. They are also known as ‘dock spiders,’ as they often build their webs on docks and other structures overhanging bodies of water.

Dark fishing spiders are large, with adults reaching up to 1 inch in length. They are black or dark brown, with distinctive patterns on their abdomens. These spiders are not aggressive and will only bite humans if they feel threatened.

However, their bites can be painful, so it is best to avoid handling them if possible. If you come across a dark fishing spider, admire it from a distance and let it go about its business.

3. Six-Spotted Fishing Spider

Six-spotted fishing spider
Six-spotted fishing spider in a pond | image by Katja Schulz via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Dolomedes triton 
  • Adult size: 15 to 60 mm (0.59 to 2.3 inches)
  • Family: Pisauridae 
  • Lifespan: 2 years

The six-spotted fishing spider is a species of arachnid found in many parts of the United States, including Massachusetts. These spiders are named for their distinctive patterns of six spots on their abdomens. Fishing spiders are one of the largest species in North America, with some adults reaching up to 60 mm in length.

Unlike most spiders, which build webs to capture prey, fishing spiders actively hunt their prey. They are often found near bodies of water, where they use their long legs to walk on the water surface in search of prey. In addition to their size and hunting habits, fishing spiders are distinguished by their ability to breathe underwater.

While they can survive for long periods of time without air, they will eventually drown if they do not come up for air occasionally.

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4. Nursery Web Spider

  • Scientific Name: Pisaurina mira 
  • Adult Size: 15 mm (0.59 inches)
  • Family: Pisauridae 
  • Lifespan: 2 years

The nursery web spider is a common sight in Massachusetts. The spiders often breed during the summer, and the females carry their egg sacs around their jaws. When the eggs are ready to hatch, the female spiders construct a tent-like structure, lay their egg sacs within it, and then stand outside the tent to guard the eggs, hence the family’s name.

On the other hand, the male spiders try to woo the females by offering them gifts of prey wrapped in silk. If the female is impressed, she will allow him to mate. After mating, the male spider’s role is done, and he will likely be eaten by the female!

Nursery web spiders are brown or gray and have long legs. They are not aggressive and will only bite humans if they feel threatened.

5. Carolina Wolf Spider

Carolina wolf spider
Carolina wolf spider | image by codystricker via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Hogna carolinensis 
  • Adult size: 19 to 25 mm (0.7 to 0.98 inches)
  • Family: Lycosidae 
  • Lifespan: 1 to 4 years

The Carolina wolf spider is not only the largest wolf spider species, but also one of the biggest in Massachusetts. These spiders live in burrows and can be found in forests, deserts, wetlands, and coastlines. While they’re pretty adaptable, the Carolina wolf spider is only active at night, when it roams around in search of prey.

These spiders are brown or tan, with distinctive dark blotchy patterns on their bodies. They feed on insects and other small animals, which they kill with their potent venom.

Fortunately, the Carolina wolf spider’s venom is not harmful to humans. While they may look scary, Carolina wolf spiders are quite shy and will only bite humans if they feel threatened.

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 
  • Adult size: 6 to 19 mm (0.23 to 0.74 inches)
  • Family: Salticidae 
  • Lifespan: 1 year

The bold jumping spider is a common sight in Massachusetts. As their name suggests, these spiders are known for their ability to jump long distances, up to 50 times their own body length. They use this skill to ambush their prey, killing them with their potent venom.

Bold jumping spiders are small, compact spiders with short legs. They are black or dark brown in color, with distinctive white or yellow markings on their abdomens.

These spiders are not aggressive and will only bite humans if they feel threatened. While they may be small, bold jumping spiders can be quite a nuisance if they find their way into your home.

7. Emerald Jumping Spider

emerald jumping spider
Emerald jumping spider | image by aecole2010 via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Paraphidippus aurantius 
  • Adult Size: 3.04 mm (0.12 inches)
  • Family: Salticidae
  • Lifespan: 1 year

The Emerald jumping spiders are quite common in prairies, fields, forests, and wetlands across Massachusetts. It’s pretty common to find these spiders near your home, and they’re very active during the day. These spiders can jump up to 2 feet in the air and are known for their playful nature.

They are small, compact spiders with short legs. They are black or dark brown in color, with distinctive white or yellow markings on their abdomens. These spiders are not aggressive and often jump and run away if approached.

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While they may be small, emerald jumping spiders can be quite a nuisance if they find their way into your home. If you see one, it’s best to catch and release it outside.

8. White-Jawed Jumping Spider

white jawed jumping spider
White-jawed jumping spider on a leaf | image by David Hill via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Hentzia mitrata 
  • Adult Size: 4 to 6 mm (0.15 to 0.23 inches)
  • Family: Salticidae 
  • Lifespan: 1 to 2 years

The white-jawed jumping spider is one of the most widespread spider species in the world. These spiders are found in the Bahamas Islands, Canada, and the United States. They like living in forests, mountainous areas, scrublands, and warm tropical regions.

These spiders are quite similar to other jumping spiders in the world and have excellent vision. They are primarily active during the day, often seen following humans around and interacting with them.

The white-jawed jumping spider is covered in silver-white fur, and its body is snow-white in color. These arachnids have light orange or tan heads and abdomen.

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