The environment and climate in Missouri are perfect for many types of spiders. Some of the most common spiders in Missouri include the black widow, tarantula, brown recluse, and wolf spider.
Many of these spiders can be quite dangerous to humans. Some spiders simply deliver painful bites, while others are venomous and can cause an adverse reaction when they inject their venom.
On the other hand, some spiders are beneficial to have around. They help keep the insect population under control and can be fun to watch as they go about their daily lives. So, it’s essential to identify the different types of spiders in Missouri.
9 Common Spiders in Missouri
There are over 27 different spider species in Missouri, each occupying different habitats throughout the state. Most of these spiders can be found in urban areas near human development.
Others, like the tarantula, are more reclusive and can be found in desert regions. Regardless of where they live, the following is a list of the most commonly seen spiders in Missouri:
1. Black Widow
- Scientific Name: Latrodectus
- Most Identifying Feature: Their bodies are black with two triangular red-colored patches often joined to create a reddish hourglass shape on their underside.
As one of the most venomous spiders in North America, the black widow is easily recognizable by its shiny black body and red hourglass shape on its abdomen. Females are larger than males and can grow to about a half-inch in length.
Black widows are found throughout Missouri but are most commonly seen in the state’s southern regions. These spiders typically build their webs near the ground in dark, secluded areas like closets, garages, and sheds. They are also known to inhabit woodpiles and low shrubs.
Black widows usually only bite humans if they feel threatened. However, their bites can be very dangerous and even fatal to small children and the elderly. If you think you have been bitten by a black widow, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately.
- Scientific Name: Theraphosidae
- Most Identifying Feature: Their bodies are covered with tan or light brown hair.
The tarantula is the largest type of spider in North America, with some tropical species reaching lengths of up to 11 inches. Tarantulas are burrowers and spend most of their time in underground dens. They are nocturnal hunters that use their powerful venom to subdue prey.
Tarantulas are among the few spiders that can survive in the desert. They are common in Missouri and can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, and mountains.
Tarantulas are not considered dangerous to humans, but their large size and hairy appearance can be intimidating. In fact, most people keep these spiders as pets.
3. Brown Recluse Spider
- Scientific Name: Loxosceles reclusa
- Most Identifying Feature: It’s brown in color with a dark, violin-shaped marking on its head.
The brown recluse spider is a species of recluse spider native to the southwestern United States. It can be found in California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. This spider is also known as the fiddleback spider or violin spider due to the characteristic brown fiddle-shaped marking on its back.
The brown recluse is a small to medium-sized spider with a body length of approximately 0.25 to 0.75 inches. The spider is not aggressive and will only bite humans if it feels threatened or trapped.
Bites from this spider can cause serious medical problems, including necrosis (tissue death) and ulceration at the site of the bite. If you think you have been bitten by a brown recluse spider, seek medical attention immediately.
4. Wolf Spider
- Scientific Name: Hogna carolinensis
- Most Identifying Feature: It’s large and brown with a striped pattern on its back.
The wolf spider is a large, brown spider with a striped pattern on its back. It is native to the United States, where it can be found in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.
In Missouri, you can often find this spider in wooded areas or near streams and rivers. The spider is named after its hunting habits; it will often chase and capture its prey rather than build a web to catch it.
The most identifying feature of the Wolf Spider is its large, round abdomen. In Missouri, the Wolf Spider is most active in the spring and summer months, and it feeds on insects and other small animals.
5. Cellar Spiders
- Scientific Name: Pholcidae
- Most Identifying feature: These spiders have long, thin legs with an elongated or globular abdomen.
The cellar spider is small-sized (7 to 8 mm), often found in cellars and other dark, damp places. Its most identifying feature is its long, thin legs, which can be up to twice the length of its body.
Cellar spiders are harmless to humans and actually beneficial, as they feed on other insects, including moths, mosquitoes, and cockroaches. In Missouri, cellar spiders can be found in Missouri caves and sometimes in homes. They are more common in the southern part of the state.
6. Crab Spider
- Scientific Name: Thomisidae
- Most Identifying Feature: Its crab-like appearance.
The crab spider is a small, reclusive spider often found lurking in gardens and flower beds. It has long, curved legs, which give it a crab-like appearance. The crab spider is a predator, feeding on small insects that it ambushes.
In Missouri, you can find the crab spider in wooded areas, spinning its webs in the trees. Interestingly, the crab spider can change its color to match its surroundings. This allows it to ambush prey more effectively and avoid being eaten by predators.
7. Yellow Garden Spider
- Scientific Name: Argiope aurantia
- Most Identifying Feature: Their striking black and white or sometimes yellow patterns.
The yellow garden spider is common in gardens and fields across Missouri. These spiders are easily recognized by their bright yellow and black markings.
The female spiders in this species are usually much larger than the males. In some cases, the female may be up to five times the size of the male!
While they are not harmful to humans, they can be quite aggressive in defending their territory. Yellow garden spiders typically prey on smaller insects, such as flies and mosquitoes. However, they will also eat larger prey, such as wasps and small rodents.
Garden spiders are not usually found in homes, preferring instead to build their webs in open areas. However, if they do find their way inside, they are not considered a nuisance. In fact, many people consider them helpful in controlling the insect population.
8. Eastern Parson Spider
- Scientific Name: Herpyllus ecclesiasticus
- Most Identifying Feature: They have velvety bodies.
The eastern parson spider is a species of spider found throughout the eastern United States. They get their name from their unique coloration, which resembles a clergyman’s attire.
These spiders are generally harmless to humans, although they can bite if provoked. Their diet consists primarily of insects, which they capture using their webs.
Eastern Parson Spiders are commonly found in homes and other buildings, particularly in dark corners and basements. In Missouri, you can spot them in wooded areas and near gardens.
When threatened, eastern parson spiders are known to play dead. This defense mechanism often fools predators, allowing them to escape unscathed.
9. Common House Spider
- Scientific Name: Parasteatoda tepidariorum
- Most Identifying Feature: They have dark round rings on each leg.
The common house spider, also known as the domestic house spider, is a species of spider that is found in homes all over the world. These spiders are not aggressive and typically only bite humans if they feel threatened. House spiders usually eat insects but can also survive on a diet of dust and cobwebs.
In Missouri, common house spiders can be found in both rural and urban areas. These spiders are not particular about where they build their webs and can often be seen in basements, attics, and closets.
Interestingly, the common house spider is among the few species of spider that can survive being eaten by another animal. If a house spider is eaten by a bird or mammal, it will typically survive long enough to be excreted and then build a new web.