Spiders may look dangerous, with their hairy bodies and sharp fangs, but these beneficial creatures pose little to no risk to humans and are actually useful for the environment. For people who have a fear of arachnids, knowing this information does little to relieve their fear when they come across the common spiders in Virginia.
8 Common Spiders in Virginia
Virginia is no stranger to spiders, and it would be unusual if you didn’t cross paths with one at some point while in this state. While there are over 3,000 different species of spiders in the world, only about 60 of them are found in Virginia. Let’s take a look at 8 of the most common spiders in Virginia.
1. Orb Weaver Spiders
Scientific Name: Araneidae
Orb-weaving spiders are well-known for making those iconic wheel-like or circular-shaped spider webs. Orb weavers are found all around the world, and have over 4,000 known species in their group and probably still more that have yet been identified.
There are, however, only about 18 different species of orb weavers in Virginia. Starbellied orb weaver, giant lichen orb weaver, marbled orb weaver, spinybacked orb weaver, and spotted orb weaver are the orb weaving spiders you are most likely to encounter in Virginia.
2. Spined Micrathena
Scientific Name: Micrathena gracilis
The spined micrathena is in the same family as the orb weaver but looks much different. This spider is typically darker in color but has distinctive spine-like structures protruding out of its back. It’s this characteristic that makes the spined micrathena look like something out of Jurassic Park.
Their bodies measure about 3/8 to 1/8 inch long, not including their legs, and they create large and impressive webs. The good news, however, is that, like other orb-weaving spiders, the spined micrathena isn’t harmful to humans or pets, and is found throughout the entire state of Virginia.
3. Dark Fishing Spider
Scientific Name: Dolomedes
As their name suggests, dark fishing spiders typically live near water where they feed on insects and some species of fish, but in Virginia, they are most commonly found along the forest edges and in fields. They can, however, make their way inside homes sometimes or you may see them climbing on the exterior of your house and garage.
The fishing spider is one of the bigger arachnids found in Virginia, measuring up to 3 inches in length. They are usually brown or black in color, with various white or light colored patterns or stripes. There are some species of fishing spider, such as the Dolomedes vittatus, with hardly any trim, pattern, or stripes on its body.
4. Jumping Spider
Scientific Name: Salticidae
Jumping spiders are extremely common in Virginia, and are found in a wide array of habitats. They range in size, color, and patterns, but the ones most commonly found in this state have a dark colored body and lighter markings.
They are often described as having an appearance similar to a tarantula, only smaller. Even if they look scary, they are harmless to humans and can even jump up to 45 times the length of their entire body.
Jumping spiders make good pets for people who like to keep arachnids, and studies have led researchers to believe that jumping spiders have the mental capacity to understand numbers about the same as a 1-year-old human.
5. Black Widow
Scientific Name: Latrodectus
There are two types of black widows found in Virginia, the northern black widow and the southern black widow. Both of which are venomous, but are not typically deadly except for rare cases. For most healthy adults, a bite from a black widow will typically cause nausea, sweating, fever, headaches, and muscle cramps.
While they do look extremely similar in appearance, the main difference between the northern and southern black widows is their iconic red-colored hourglass on their abdomen. The hourglass of the northern black widow is divided in two, while the hourglass of the southern black widow is connected together.
6. Garden Spider
Scientific Name: Argiope
These common Virginia spiders have a brown or dark colored body that features stripes, patterns, and trim in bright yellow, orange, or red. Their large egg-shaped abdomen is one of the quickest ways to identify this type of spider.
Garden spiders are found throughout the state of Virginia, and are often seen making their impressive webs between tall plants, shrubs, and flowers. They don’t normally find their way into homes, but you are sure to see one among your garden plants.
7. Wolf Spider
Scientific Name: Lycosidae
The Wolf spiders may look scary due to their large size and menacing appearance, but they pose no threat to humans. They can, however, move extremely fast which can make them appear aggressive. Thankfully, these spiders are not generally aggressive to humans.
Not only is this spider the largest in Virginia, but it is also one of the most commonly found spider species in the state. Wolf spiders can grow as large as 4 inches, and can range in color and body pattern, but are usually seen in brown or black hues.
They don’t make webs and instead hunt for their prey, which means they can be found where there are insects, including your home. When they are not hunting, wolf spiders retreat to their small underground burrow that is protected by their spun silk.
8. Grass Spider
Scientific Name: Agelenopsis
The web of the grass spider doesn’t look like a traditional spider web and instead is a cave-like structure made out of silk and created in grassy lawns. These spiders are found throughout the United States, including in Virginia. They range in body color, from brown to tan, and they generally have two light stripes that run down the side of their bodies and a third stripe that runs down the middle.
Because of the large size and similarity in appearance, it is not uncommon for people to confuse the grass spider with wolf spiders. However, wolf spiders are usually darker in color and have a much bulkier appearance than the grass spider. Grass spiders are also a little smaller, reaching only about an inch and a half in length, including their legs.