Some may be dangerous, while most are harmless and even considered to be helpful. Even the smallest of spiders can make many people cringe and run away in terror. However, certain spiders are so big, that they make people run and want to sell their homes! In this article we learn about 8 large spiders that live in North America.
What makes a spider unique?
Spiders are members of the arachnid family. Like other members, their bodies are divided into 2 parts. The cephalothorax (head and thorax) and the abdomen. Most spiders will have 4 pairs of legs attached to this area. The carapace (shell) is on top of the thorax. Most will have 8 eyes.
8 Large Spiders in North America
North America has some very intimidating-looking spiders, but the most venomous ones are actually small. Read on for a creepy crawly exploration of 8 large spiders in North America.
1. The Carolina Wolf Spider
Scientific Name: Hogna carolinensis
With a body length of 1 to 2 inches and a leg span of 3 to 4 inches. Having fur and 8 eyes that reflect light, these mostly brown giants are quite a sight. Found all over North America, they will live in burrows, often ones they take over or find abandoned.
If they make their own, they will dig out a small area, then spin webs that will act as walls to hold the burrow in place. Turrets will also be made out of sticks, mud, pebbles, and animal droppings. This will protect them from predators like lizards, birds, and coyotes.
Unlike other spiders, the Carolina Wolf does not spin a web to lure its prey. Sitting on the edge of their burrows or in the brush, they will ambush insects and small invertebrates when they get close. The female will carry her egg sac around for about two weeks until about 200 eggs hatch.
Shy around humans, they will only bite if threatened. The bite is painful but not fatal. The Carolina Wolf spider was voted the state spider of South Carolina in the year 2000.
2. Huntsman Spider
Scientific name: Heteropoda venatoria
Also known as the Giant Crab spider for its twisted, jointed legs, this spider is most commonly found in Florida, Texas, California, and Georgia. Body length is about 1 inch, while leg spans can range from 5 to 12 inches! Some are as large as a dinner plate! Usually, colored brown and gray, these spiders have furry bodies and spiny legs.
The Huntsman can be found under rocks, hollowed-out bark, sheds, and garages. Being able to move 3 feet per second helps them to hunt down their prey from roaches, crickets, and other pests. Females can lay up to 200 eggs and are very protective.
In fact, if a human is ever bitten by a Huntsman, it’s probably a female protecting her eggs. Though not deadly to humans, a bite is painful and can cause swelling, headaches, and nausea.
3. Golden Silk Orb Weaver
Scientific name: Trichonephila clavipes
Mostly found in the Southern United States, the Golden Orb Weaver can have a body length up to 3 inches and a leg span of up to 6 inches. Usually, they are a yellow to reddish brown color with white markings.
Known for their golden-hued silk, they will spin asymmetrical webs on shrubbery and trees. Prey will simply fly into the web and the Orb Weaver will inject their venom, paralyzing the prey rather than wrapping them up in their silk first.
Though venomous, they are not aggressive or deadly to humans. Actually, they are quite useful due to the proteins contained in their silk. It’s been used in surgery of the nervous system.
4. Daddy Long Legs
Scientific name: Pholcidae
Also known as the Cellar spider, the Daddy Long Legs is thin and delicate with the body of a peanut that’s usually about an inch long. The leg span is between 2 to 3 inches. The color is anywhere from gray to brown to clear.
These spiders will hang inverted in messy, unorganized webs. They are usually found in dark, damp places like caves, rock crevices, bark, and cellars. Trapping their prey in the web, they will then wrap it up before inflicting a deadly bite.
Prey includes insects, other spiders, and their eggs. When threatened, they will vibrate and gyrate. This is why they are also called gyrating spiders.
5. Texas Brown Tarantula
Scientific name: Aphonopelma hentzi
The most commonly seen tarantula in the Southwest, this spider is plump and fuzzy. It can weigh more than 3 ounces and has a leg span of more than 4 inches. Females can lay over 1,000 eggs.
The spiderlings (babies) will stay with the mother for about 7 days before leaving the nest. Females can live up to 40 years. Males usually don’t live more than a year.
Their diet consists mostly of crickets. Docile in nature, their main defense is to raise their back legs and kick when approached. A bite from their large fangs is not deadly, but is painful and can cause a secondary infection.
6. Arizona Blond Tarantula
Scientific name: Aphonopelma chalcodes
Found mostly in Arizona and New Mexico, this spider is named for the light-colored hairs that cover its carapace. The Arizona Blond Tarantula will grow to have a body of up to 2.7 inches and a leg span of up to 6 inches. Known for their longevity, males can live 8 years, while females can more than 25 years!
Like other large spiders in North America, this tarantula will make a burrow. Then it will cover the entrance with silk to alert it of any predators. The Arizona Blond is nocturnal and will usually wait at the edge of the burrow for its dinner of crickets and other insects.
This tarantula does bite but is considered the least dangerous member of the family. As long as there’s no allergy, a bite is no worse than a bee sting.
7. Joro Spider
Scientific name: Trichonephila clavate
Originally from Japan, this spider traveled across the ocean and was first seen in the United States in 2014. First identified in Georgia, they’ve now been spotted in other Southern states. The Joro’s body is about 3 inches long and it has a leg span of 1 to 1.5 inches.
Their markings are unique black and yellow like a bumble bee. Known for their large webs that can be 3 to 4 feet long, they will often construct multiple adjoining webs.
The Joro will also use silk strands to let the wind carry them from place to place. Mosquitoes are their favorite food. Pets and humans are safe from this spider.
8. Dark Fishing Spider
Scientific name: Dolomedes tenebrosus
The Dark Fishing spider gets its name for its ability to hunt for small fish and tadpoles underwater. This species has hairs that trap little air bubbles, helping it to breathe and stay submerged for up to 30 minutes. It will also hunt on land.
Found in the United States and Canada, they make their homes in trees near water. Adults will grow to have a body of 1 inch while the leg span averages 3 inches. Unless there is an allergy, the Dark Fishing spider bite is not any more dangerous than a bee sting.