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Spiders in Alaska

There are over 20 different types of spiders in Alaska. Though some estimates put the number at over 600 species, next to nothing is known about the life history of most of these spiders.

In this article, we’ll learn about the spider species scientists have studied and that you’re likely to encounter in the state of Alaska. You’ll also learn how to identify some of these spiders.

If you’re here because you’re afraid the spider you found lurking in your home is highly venomous, you’ll be glad to know it most likely isn’t. Although there are a handful of highly venomous spiders in the United States, Alaska isn’t home to any of them.

While arachnophobia is common and understandable, spiders aren’t creatures you should fear, highly venomous or not. These critters aren’t out to get you, and most are more afraid of you than you are of them. That’s why they avoid human interactions.

These arachnids will typically run instead of attacking when you threaten them. They reserve their venom and aggressiveness for prey, such as insects and other small arthropods they can subdue.

Keep reading to learn about these fascinating creatures.

1. Black and Yellow Garden Spider

Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) wrapping its prey in a web clinging onto it somewhere in South Carolina, USA
Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) wrapping its prey in a web clinging onto it somewhere in South Carolina, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Scientific Name: Argiope aurantia
  • Other Names: Yellow Garden Spider, Steeler Spider, Black and Yellow Argiope, Zipper Spider, Golden Garden Spider, McKinley Spider, Corn Spider, Zigzag Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.75 to 1.1 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The black and yellow garden spider looks as its name suggests.

Its body is yellow with a broad black stripe running down the abdomen’s center. In the middle of this black stripe, you’ll notice about two or more pairs of yellow markings.

The rest of the abdomen is yellow with thin black spherical markings. The carapace is covered in silver or white hairs, and its legs are long with alternating black and yellow bands.

You’ll find the black and yellow garden spider in gardens, sure. But you’ll also encounter this arachnid in forests, woodlands, and prairies. It spins a large circular web with a series of radial and circular threads that spread out from the center or hub.

When active, this spider sits in the hub and waits for flying insects to run into the web strands and get stuck. It then hurries over to its victims and injects them with venom to paralyze them before eating.

Although people often remove black and yellow garden spider webs around their homes out of fear, this species is harmless. It’s not aggressive toward people, and the venom it produces is too weak to harm humans.

If you leave these spiders alone, they help you control the population of pests and other annoying arthropods around your home by eating them.

2. Banded Garden Spider

Banded Garden Spider (Argiope trifasciata) hanigng in its web somehwere in Equador
Banded Garden Spider (Argiope trifasciata) hanging in its web somewhere in Ecuador. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Scientific Name: Argiope trifasciata
  • Other Names: Orb-weaver Spider, Yellow Garden Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.59 to 0.98 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The banded garden spider belongs to the same genus as the black and yellow garden spider. Although both species look different, some banded garden spider variants are easy to mistake for black and yellow garden spiders.

The banded garden spider gets its name from the colored bands running across its abdomen, from side to side. These bands have varying colors. While some variants have primarily black and yellow, others have white and brown lines in the mix.

Like black and yellow garden spiders, this species’ carapace is covered in silver or white hair. The legs are also long and bear alternating light and dark bands.

You’ll find banded garden spiders in various habitats, from gardens and woodlands to prairies and residential areas. These critters spin wheel-like webs to catch insects and other small arthropods.

They sit upside-down in their hub, waiting for prey to hit their web strands. They then rush toward their victims and inject them with venom before eating or wrapping them up for later.

These arachnids reserve their venom for prey and are unaggressive toward humans. They’ll only bite when threatened and restrained from escaping, but even such bites are rare.

If one bites you, there’s no need to worry because the species’ venom is harmless.

3. Long-bodied Cellar Spider

Long-bodied Cellar Spider (Pholcus phalangioides) hanging upside down on wood in Sacramento, California, USA
Long-bodied Cellar Spider (Pholcus phalangioides) hanging upside down on wood in Sacramento, California, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Pholcidae
  • Scientific Name: Pholcus phalangioides
  • Other Names: Daddy Longlegs, Elongated Cellar Spider, Cellar Spider, Daddy Longlegger, Carpenter Spider, House Spider, Granddaddy Longlegs, Vibrating Spider, Skull Spider
  • Adult Size: Up to 0.4 inch
  • Lifespan: 2 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The long-bodied cellar spider is a brown or tan arachnid with six eyes, an elongated abdomen, and incredibly long legs. These legs often obscure its size and are the reason the species is also called a daddy longlegs spider.

The long-bodied cellar spider is common in home cellars, hence its common name. However, you’ll also find this species in corners around the house, on window sills, furniture bends, and other undisturbed spaces.

This species spins tangled webs in its habitats and hangs under them waiting for prey to wander into the tangled mass. When prey wanders into the tangle and gets stuck, this spider shakes the web vigorously to further entangle its catch.

When satisfied, the long-bodied cellar spider goes to immobilize its victim with venom. It may consume its catch immediately or stash it away to eat at a different time.

Although long-bodied cellar spiders are harmless to humans, there are many myths about them. One is that these arachnids are among the most venomous spider species in the world, only that their fangs can’t penetrate human skin.

Reports vary about whether these arachnids’ fangs can penetrate human skin deeply enough to inject venom. However, what’s certain is that their venom is not strong enough to cause any serious symptoms in humans.

4. Common House Spider

Common House Spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum) on its web in Hong Kong somewhere.
Common House Spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum) on its web in Hong Kong somewhere. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Theridiidae
  • Scientific Name: Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Other Names: American House Spider, Common Cellar Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.15 to 0.24 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The common house spider is a cobweb spider that belongs to the same family as black widows.

But unlike widows, its body is brown, and its hairy abdomen is stippled with dark spots. It also has comb-like structures on its legs, which it uses to maintain its web.

You’ll typically find this arachnid in and around houses, which is why it’s called a house spider. It’s common in cellars, ceiling corners, garages, hallway arches, and other undisturbed locations.

It spins messy but sticky cobwebs to catch insects and other small arthropods, including other cobweb spiders. When prey gets stuck in its cobweb, this critter immobilizes its catch with venom before consuming it.

Although this spider is related to the black widows, its venom does not trigger medically significant symptoms in humans. The spider rarely bites people.

But even if one bites you, the most adverse symptoms you’re likely to experience are mild pain and redness.

5. Daring Jumping Spider

Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) on rocky ground in Boulder, Colorado, USA
Bold Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax) on rocky ground in Boulder, Colorado, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Salticidae
  • Scientific Name: Phidippus audax
  • Other Names: Bold Jumping Spider, Bold Jumper, Three-spotted Jumping Spider, White-spotted Jumper, White-spotted Jumping Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.25 to 0.75 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The daring jumping spider is a fascinating arachnid with a black hairy body and three red or orange spots on the second half of its abdomen. Its legs have flecks of white hair at their joints, and its fangs are metallic green.

This species is called a jumping spider because it’s capable of jumping several times its height. Although this species’ legs are short relative to other spiders, its jumps are impressive.

The daring in its name comes from its penchant for making risky high jumps, sometimes up to 50 times its height going by some estimates. It spins a line of silk known as a safety or dragline to steady itself in the air and reduce the risk of injury when jumps fail.

You’ll find the daring jumping spider in various habitats, from residential areas to woodlands. This arachnid doesn’t spin typical webs, preferring to build small silk nests to rest in when inactive.

Like other spiders in Alaska, this species feeds on insects and other small arthropods. It catches its victims by chasing and pouncing on them. It has excellent eyesight, which helps it locate its victims before attacking.

The daring jumping spider is not aggressive toward humans, so it won’t bite you unless you threaten it. But even then, its venom is too weak to cause any medically significant symptoms.

Although daring jumping spiders don’t spin webs to catch prey, they spin silk sacs to hold their eggs after laying them. Female daring jumping spiders guard these egg sacs fiercely until the eggs hatch into spiderlings.

6. Northern Cupboard Spider

Northern Cupboard Spider (Steatoda borealis) walking on a white surface in Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Northern Cupboard Spider (Steatoda borealis) walking on a white surface in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Theridiidae
  • Scientific Name: Steatoda borealis
  • Other Names: Cupboard Spider, Boreal Comb-foot Spider, False Widow,  Dark Comb-footed Spider, Boreal Combfoot
  • Adult Size: 0.25 to 0.4 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 to 6 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The northern cupboard spider is a dark brown or black arachnid that’s sometimes mistaken for a black widow because of its appearance. Like widows, this cobweb spider has a bulbous abdomen and hairy legs with comb-like structures near the end.

You can easily differentiate this spider from black widows if you examine it closely. For starters, its abdomen lacks the reddish-orange hourglass marking characteristic of black widows. Instead, the top of the abdomen has a white or light brown T-shaped pattern.

Northern cupboard spiders are related to black widows, which is why there are many similarities between these spiders. But despite being related to black widows, northern cupboard spiders aren’t medically significant to humans.

These spiders rarely bite people unless threatened. But even if these spiders bite you, you’ll only experience mild pain and discomfort. Northern cupboard spiders reserve their venom for small insects and arthropods, including other cobweb spiders.

Most northern cupboard spiders live indoors, where they spin messy but sticky cobwebs to trap prey. When prey gets caught in their cobwebs, these spiders hurry over to immobilize it with venom before consuming it.

7. Furrow Orbweaver

Furrow Orbweaver (Larinioides cornutus) on its web in Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Furrow Orbweaver (Larinioides cornutus) on its web in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Scientific Name: Larinioides cornutus
  • Other Names: Furrow Orb Spider, Furrow Orb-weaver, Foliate Orb Spider, Foliate Orb-weaver
  • Adult Size: 0.4 to 0.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 Year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The furrow orb-weaver is a brown or tan spider with a large abdomen bearing a dark pattern in the center. This pattern is usually black and broad, and the edges are wavy like the edges of a serrate leaf or the furrows left behind after plowing the earth.

Like many orb-weaving spiders in Alaska, this species has spines on its legs. These legs have alternating light brown and dark brown or black bands. The first pair of legs may also be longer than the rest.

You’ll find the furrow orb-weaver in coastal forests or shrublands and prairies close to water sources. In addition, you may also find this spider around your home, where it often hides under eaves and porches.

This critter spends most of the day hiding in its retreat to avoid predators. In the evening, the spider emerges from its shelter and sits on its large orb web to eat insects caught in its web. After immobilizing its targets, it sometimes wraps them in thick silk layers to save for a future date.

The furrow orb-weaver is typical in the sense that it is not harmful to humans. It’s a pretty docile creature that preserves its toxin for targets it can subdue.

It’s difficult to get this spider to bite you. But even if it does, the toxin it injects is weak.

8. Six-spotted Fishing Spider

Six-spotted Fishing Spider (Dolomedes triton) walking on wooden planks in College, Alaska, USA
Six-spotted Fishing Spider (Dolomedes triton) walking on wooden planks in College, Alaska, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Pisauridae
  • Scientific Name: Dolomedes triton
  • Other Names: Dock Spider, Raft Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.5 to 0.75 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

You’ll find six-spotted fishing spiders around streams, rivers, and ponds.

These critters often hang onto nearby vegetation or other structures like rafts and docks. That’s why these arachnids are also known as dock and raft spiders.

Unlike most spiders in Alaska, fishing spiders are comfortable in the water. They can walk on water and sometimes, especially when hunting, they dive in and can stay submerged for long periods because their lungs are adapted to breathing underwater.

Fishing spiders do as their name suggests: they fish. These arachnids don’t spin webs to trap insects, preferring to hunt aquatic insects and other small arthropods. They locate prey by listening for vibrations and ripples on the water surface before diving in.

Although arthropods make up the bulk of their victims, these arachnids often hunt non-arthropod prey. Small fish, tadpoles, and slugs often fall prey to these skilled hunters.

Fishing spiders rely on their strength and venom to subdue their victims. Fortunately, this venom is only potent against prey.

You won’t experience any serious symptoms besides pain if one bites you. But bites are rare because the spiders are unaggressive.

You can identify these spiders by the six spots on the underside of their cephalothorax (sternum). These arachnids also have several pairs of whitish spots on their abdomen, but these spots are often over six and aren’t reliable for identifying these spiders.

A whitish stripe runs around the edges of these spiders, which causes them to resemble striped fishing spiders from a distance. But you can differentiate them because striped fishing spiders lack the six spots characteristic of fishing spiders.

Although six-spotted fishing spiders don’t spin webs to trap prey, females spin egg sacs. They carry these egg sacs in their mouths until the eggs are near hatching, then they spin silk nurseries for them.

9. Shamrock Spider

Shamrock Orbweaver (Araneus trifolium) sitting on a wet leaf in Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Shamrock Orbweaver (Araneus trifolium) sitting on a wet leaf in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Scientific Name: Araneus trifolium
  • Other Names: Shamrock Spider
  • Adult Size: Up to 0.75 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The shamrock spider is a fascinating orb-weaver with a massive hairy abdomen that comes in several colors, from white to reddish-brown, greenish, tan, brown, or yellowish.

What’s common among its many variants is the presence of whitish markings on the abdomen. In addition, the legs of all variants have black and white bands.

You’ll find shamrock spiders in gardens, forests, shrublands, woodlands, and prairies. Like many orb-weavers in Alaska, these arachnids build vertical wheel-shaped webs to catch flying insects.

The webs of shamrock spiders have a retreat about a meter above ground level. Although these spiders typically sit upside-down in the middle of their webs when waiting for prey, they sometimes stay in retreat.

When in their retreats, these spiders remain connected to their webs by a line of silk or “signal thread.” This thread vibrates when prey hits the web, alerting them to go immobilize their catch with venom.

Shamrock spiders don’t bite people because they aren’t aggressive spiders. But even if they were, their venom doesn’t contain toxins potent enough to cause any medically significant symptoms in humans.

10. Common Candy-striped Spider

Common Candy-striped Spider (Enoplognatha ovata) climbing up the stem of a leaf somewhere in Ukraine
Common Candy-striped Spider (Enoplognatha ovata) climbing up the stem of a leaf somewhere in Ukraine. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Theridiidae
  • Scientific Name: Enoplognatha ovata
  • Other Names: Candy-striped Spider
  • Adult Size: Up to 0.25 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 to 3 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The common candy-striped spider is a cream or light green spider with a bulbous or pea-shaped abdomen.

It belongs to the same family as black widows, but it’s not as venomous as its infamous cousins. However, its bites may hurt and cause mild swelling.

This arachnid is called a candy-striped spider because of the candy-like pattern on its abdomen. There are three variants of this spider, each with a slightly different tweak in its abdominal pattern.

The redimita morph is the most common variant of this spider in the United States. Its abdomen has two reddish stripes running down it, but the space between these two stripes is usually white or cream and peppered with black spots.

In the ovata morph, there’s no white or cream space between the two reddish stripes. Instead, both stripes merge into one broad stripe running down the center of the abdomen.

The lineata morph is the most divergent of the three morphs. Unlike the others, this variant loses the reddish stripes completely. The abdomen only has a constellation of black spots in the center.

You’ll find the most common candy-striped spiders outdoors, where they spin sticky cobwebs among vegetation to catch prey. When prey wanders into their cobwebs, these spiders hurry over to immobilize their catch with venom and then eat it.

12. Hobo Spider

Hobo Spider (Eratigena agrestis) walking through greens and twigs in British Columbia, Canada
Hobo Spider (Eratigena agrestis) walking through greens and twigs in British Columbia, Canada. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Agelenidae
  • Scientific Name: Eratigena agrestis
  • Other Names: Funnel Weaver, Sheet Web Spider, Funnel Web Spider, Ground Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.25 to 0.6 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The hobo spider is often mistaken for several other spider species, including the highly venomous brown recluse. In Alaska, where there are no native brown recluses, this mix-up is even more common.

This arachnid typically has a brown body, but you may encounter hobo spiders with other colors. The carapace has two dark brown stripes running down the sides of the midline, and the abdomen has dark markings with a series of chevrons in the center.

Like other spiders in Alaska and most parts of the United States, observing this spider’s physical appearance with the naked eye often isn’t enough to identify it. That’s because its patterns are similar to those of many other species in its family.

Hobo spiders were once classified as a species with medically significant venom, but this classification has since been revised. These arachnids don’t bite people unprovoked. But even when they bite, their venom isn’t medically significant.

Hobo spiders are originally native to Europe but have since spread to many northwest US states since their introduction to North America. You’ll find these critters among wood piles and rocks in grassy fields or near walls and crevices close to tall grass.

Like other funnel web weavers, these arachnids build funnel-shaped webs to trap prey. They hide inside the hole or neck of their funnel web, emerging from the hole to immobilize insects and other arthropods that wander into their webs and get stuck.

13. Fierce Orbweaver

Fierce Orbweaver (Araneus saevus) clinging onto some flowers at Kodiak Station, Alaska, USA
Fierce Orbweaver (Araneus saevus) clinging onto some flowers at Kodiak Station, Alaska, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Scientific Name: Araneus saevus
  • Other Names: Fierce Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.35 to 0.83 inch
  • Lifespan: Up to 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The fierce orb-weaver is a brown spider with an oval abdomen.

This abdomen often has two dorsal humps and a broad dark pattern running down its center. You may notice a white or cream stripe running between the dorsal humps and bisecting the abdomen.

This spider’s abdomen is several times the size of its body, but this disparity is more noticeable in females than in males. Males are also much darker than females. The legs of the fierce orb-weaver are also spiny and bear alternating bands.

Like many orb-weavers in Alaska, you may need a close physical examination to differentiate this species from other similar-looking orb-weavers.

You’ll find fierce orb-weavers in woodlands, gardens, and other places with plenty of vegetation. These arachnids spin large orb-like webs with radial and spiral threads to catch flying insects.

Fierce orb-weavers sit on their webs, waiting for insects to hit their webs and get stuck. The spiders detect this contact via vibratory signals and run toward their victims to subdue them with venom before consuming them.

Fierce orb-weavers are fierce only in name. These critters aren’t aggressive toward people, so they rarely bite.

But even if one bites you, the species’ venom is too mild to trigger any serious symptoms in humans.

14. Pacific Folding Door Spider

Pacific Foldingdoor Spider (Antrodiaetus pacificus) on a sandy surface in Ketchikan, Alaska, USA
Pacific Foldingdoor Spider (Antrodiaetus pacificus) on a sandy surface in Ketchikan, Alaska, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Antrodiaetidae
  • Scientific Name: Antrodiaetus pacificus
  • Other Names: Pacific Folding Trap-door Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.98 to 1.97 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 40 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The pacific folding door spider is a fascinating species that live in burrows, which it lines with silk. The spider closes this burrow with a door made out of silk and debris during the day, only opening it at night to catch prey.

Unlike many spiders in Alaska, the pacific folding door spider doesn’t spin webs to catch prey. Instead, this arachnid stands near the entrance of its burrow and waits for insects and other small arthropods to come around.

This spider is a swift hunter. Once prey is within reach, the spider quickly seizes its target, immobilizes it with venom, and pulls it into its burrow to consume.

As its name implies, this species is most common along the pacific coast of North America. You’ll typically find its burrows in damp woodlands or forests, especially areas with sandy soil.

The pacific folding door spider is a black or dark brown mygalomorph or tarantula-like arachnid with a shiny carapace. Its legs are stout and covered in tiny hairs, while the abdomen has three hardened patches.

Although this species can be intimidating because of its size, it is harmless to humans. Pacific folding door spiders don’t bite people unless provoked.

But even then, their venom doesn’t trigger serious symptoms.

15. Cat-faced Orbweaver

Cat-face Orbweaver (Araneus gemmoides) climbing up a leaf after fresh rain in Danville, California, USA
Cat-face Orbweaver (Araneus gemmoides) climbing up a leaf after fresh rain in Danville, California, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Scientific Name: Araneus gemmoides
  • Other Names: Jewel Spider, Cat-faced Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.2 to 1 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The cat-faced orb-weaver comes in many different colors, from brown to yellow, cream, gray, and orange. Regardless of the color, this species is hairy and its spiny legs have alternating light and dark bands.

Like many orb-weavers in its genus, this spider has two humps at the top of its oval abdomen—one on either “shoulder.” The abdomen also has pairs of puncture-like markings arranged on a dark pattern running down the center from between the humps.

The combination of this pattern, punctures, and humps, make the spider’s oval belly resemble a cat’s face. The humps stand in for the ears, while puncture-like markings resemble a cat’s eyes and mouth.

You’ll find cat-faced orb-weavers among vegetation in vegetation-rich areas like forests, tallgrass prairies, woodlands, and gardens. These critters spin wheel-like orb webs with some sticky strands to trap prey.

When flying insects crash into these webs, the spiders hurry toward their victims and immobilize them with venom. They may consume their victims immediately or save them for consumption at a future time.

While cat-faced orb-weavers can seem dangerous to people unfamiliar with them, these critters aren’t. Cat-faced orb-weavers are unaggressive and rarely bite people.

Even when forced to bite, the species’ venom is too weak to cause significant symptoms.

16. Marbled Orbweaver

Marbled Orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus) making its web in a green leaf somewhere in Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Marbled Orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus) making its web in a green leaf somewhere in Anchorage, Alaska, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Scientific Name: Araneus marmoreus
  • Other Names: Pumpkin Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.2 to 0.7 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 to 2 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The marbled orb-weaver is a beautiful arachnid with a large abdomen. This spider’s carapace and legs are typically orange, but the abdomen varies in color from yellow to orange, or green.

This arachnid gets its name from the pattern on its belly. You’ll notice white, brown, black, yellow, and green streaks running down its belly, creating a pattern similar to those on floors or walls.

You’ll find the marbled orbweaver in various places, especially areas with lots of vegetation like forests, shrublands, and prairies. This critter constructs a wheel-like web, which it uses to trap flying insects.

This spider, unlike many orb-weavers in Alaska, doesn’t wait for prey in its web’s hubs. Instead, it hides in a retreat on its web’s edge to avoid potential spider predators. Adults make their retreats out of silk and dried leaves, while juveniles use only to silk for theirs.

The marbled orb-weaver remains connected to the hub of its web using a single line of silk called a signal thread. This thread vibrates when prey hits the web, prompting the spider to emerge from its retreat and go subdue the web’s catch.

Marbled orb-weavers are not aggressive spiders, so they hardly, if ever, bite people. But there’s no cause for alarm even if one bites you.

The toxin in this spider’s venom is not potent enough to harm humans.

17. Cross Orbweaver

Cross Orbweaver (Araneus diadematus) in flash photography in front of a red wall in Wrangell, Alaska, USA
Cross Orbweaver (Araneus diadematus) in flash photography in front of a red wall in Wrangell, Alaska, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Scientific Name: Araneus diadematus
  • Other Names: European Garden Spider, Crowned Orb-weaver, European Garden Orb-weaver, Orangie, Cross Spider, Diadem Spider, House Spider, Pumpkin Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.22 to 0.79 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The cross orb-weaver’s color ranges from brown to green, gray, and tan. Its large, oval belly is wider near the cephalothorax than at the rear, and the spider’s legs have alternating light and dark bands.

This species gets its name from the pattern on its back. A broad black stripe with wavy edges runs down the center of its large abdomen, narrowing near the rear. In the middle of this pattern, you’ll notice several white markings arranged to form cross-like patterns.

Also called the European garden orb-weaver, this arachnid is common in forests, gardens, and other vegetation-rich places. This critter spins large, round webs with radial and spiral threads to catch flying insects and other small arthropods.

When insects crash into the cross orb-weaver’s web and get stuck, the spider detects this contact via vibratory signals transmitted through the web strands. It then goes over to inject its victims with venom before eating or wrapping them up for safekeeping.

Sometimes, the source of the vibration in this spider’s web isn’t prey. If the spider encounters an intruder or predator it can’t subdue, it often vibrates its web strands to try to scare them off. If this fails, the spider abandons its web and seeks shelter elsewhere.

Cross orb-weavers rarely bite humans, unprovoked or not. But if for some reason one bites you, there’s no need to worry.

The venom cross orb-weavers produce is harmless to humans.

18. Northern Yellow Sac Spider

Northern Yellow Sac Spider (Cheiracanthium mildei) walking along small yellow flowers in Millcreek, Utah, USA
Northern Yellow Sac Spider (Cheiracanthium mildei) walking along small yellow flowers in Millcreek, Utah, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Eutichuridae
  • Scientific Name: Cheiracanthium mildei
  • Other Names: Long-legged Sac Spider, American Yellow Sac Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.16 to 0.4 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The northern yellow sac spider is a greenish-yellow or yellowish-green spider, but some variants look more white or brown than yellow.

This arachnid doesn’t have a distinct body pattern besides a short dark line at the top of its abdomen. Its face is also dark.

You’ll find northern yellow sac spiders in various habitats, but most encounters happen indoors. These nocturnal critters avoid human interaction and spend most of the day hiding in crevices, closets, and other dark, enclosed, or undisturbed parts of the house.

Unlike most spiders in Alaska, northern yellow sac spiders don’t spin conventional webs, whether to catch prey or for shelter. Instead, these arachnids use their silk to build sac-shaped shelters to rest in when inactive.

Northern yellow sac spiders are skilled hunters, so they have no need for webs when hunting. They stalk and pounce on their targets, injecting their victims with venom before eating them.

There are conflicting reports regarding this spider’s readiness to bite people unprovoked. But whether northern yellow sac spiders bite people unprovoked or not, their venom isn’t medically significant.

Still, some bites might hurt.

19. Red-spotted Ant-mimic Spider

Red-spotted Ant-mimic Sac Spider (Castianeira descripta) on a rocky road somewhere in Minnesota, USA
Red-spotted Ant-mimic Sac Spider (Castianeira descripta) on a rocky road somewhere in Minnesota, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Corinnidae
  • Scientific Name: Castianeira descripta
  • Other Names: Ant Mimic Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.2 to 0.4 inch
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The red-spotted ant mimic spider belongs to a family of spiders known for their mimicry of ants.

Although these arachnids have eight legs, they often walk on only six of them. They raise their first leg pair while walking to mimic the antennae of six-legged ants.

Red-spotted ant-mimic spiders, in particular, are pretty good at passing as ants. That’s because, beyond obvious behavioral adaptations, these spiders look like ants. Red-spotted ant mimic spiders have black, shiny bodies like many ants, and their abdomens have similar shapes.

From a distance, it’s easy to mistake red-spotted ant-mimic spiders for ants. Some ants even fall for this mimicry, which is why red-spotted ant mimic spiders often successfully infiltrate ant populations.

There are multiple reasons these spiders mimic ants. The most certain is that red-spotted ant mimic spiders and rely on ants for food. Although these spiders feed on various arthropods, ants are their favorite prey.

Another possible reason for this mimicry is that it helps these spiders avoid predators that target spiders. When among ants, you may notice this spider tapping its belly on the floor to blend in with ants.

Red-spotted ant mimic spiders don’t spin webs to catch their victims. When within reach, the spiders seize their targets and immobilize them with venom. They may eat their victims immediately or move them somewhere else.

Though they don’t spin webs, these spiders use silk for other purposes. For example, female red-spotted ant mimic spiders use silk to spin protective sacs for their eggs after laying them.

Red-spotted ant mimic spiders aren’t aggressive toward people, but they might bite you if you threaten them. Though this bite can be painful, the venom the spider injects is harmless.

20. Arrowhead Spider

Arrowhead Orbweaver (Verrucosa arenata) hanging onto threads of its web somewhere in the forests of Guatemala
Arrowhead Orbweaver (Verrucosa arenata) hanging onto threads of its web somewhere in the forests of Guatemala. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Araneidae
  • Scientific Name: Verrucosa arenata
  • Other Names: Triangulate Orb-weaver, Arrowhead Orb-weaver
  • Adult Size: 0.15 to 0.55 inch
  • Lifespan: Up to 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The arrowhead spider is a reddish-brown orb-weaver with an unusual abdomen.

Instead of being round or oval, this critter’s belly is shaped like a triangle or arrowhead. The species gets its name from the shape of its belly.

You’ll also notice a triangular yellow, white, or pinkish pattern with irregular edges on top of the abdomen. This pattern often has several tiny vein-like red or reddish-brown lines running across it.

Like many orb-weavers, you’ll find the arrowhead spider in places with ample vegetation, such as forests and grasslands. This arachnid spins round orb webs to catch prey and sits on it while waiting for prey to get stuck.

Arrowhead spiders have weak eyesight, so they rely on vibratory signals from their web strands to know when the web has caught prey. They then follow these signals to locate their victims, subdue them with venom, and eat them.

These spiders are not aggressive toward people, so they won’t bite you. But it wouldn’t matter much if these spiders were aggressive toward people.

Their venom is too weak to cause medically significant symptoms in humans.

21. American Grass Spider

Grass Spider (Agelenopsis utahana) in its large web somewhere in the grasses of Ukraine
Grass Spider (Agelenopsis utahana) in its large web somewhere in the grasses of Ukraine. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Agelenidae
  • Scientific Name: Agelenopsis utahana
  • Other Names: Funnel Weaver, Funnel-web Spider, Sheet-web Spider, Ground Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.35 to 0.67 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 year
  • Average Price Range: N/A

The American grass spider is a brown arachnid with two dark stripes running down the sides of its carapace’s midline. The abdomen has two dark stripes running down the sides with a series of chevrons or irregular markings in the middle.

Like many grass spiders, the rear of this critter’s abdomen has spike-like structures formed by its spinnerets. It’s difficult to differentiate this species from other grass spiders by mere physical observation. You often need experts to examine it for unique markers.

You’ll find American grass spiders in areas with vegetation, such as prairies and grasslands. These arachnids build large, funnel-shaped webs on grasses and low-hanging vegetation.

The outer section of the funnel web is wide and spread over the grass like a blanket, while the spider hides in the tube or narrow part of the funnel and waits for insects and other small arthropods to enter the web.

Though this funnel web isn’t sticky, the texture often helps it in trapping arthropods that wander into it. Vibratory signals from the movement of intruders also alert the spider, which then hurries over to immobilize them with venom.

Fortunately, this venom isn’t harmful to humans. The spiders are also non-aggressive toward people, so bites are unusual.

22. Hackled Mesh Weaver

Hackled Mesh Weaver (Callobius pictus) on a dark wooden surface in Sitka, Alaska, USA
Hackled Mesh Weaver (Callobius pictus) on a dark wooden surface in Sitka, Alaska, USA. – Source
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Amaurobiidae
  • Scientific Name: Callobius pictus
  • Other Names: Hacklemesh Weaver, Tangled Nest Spider, Night Spider
  • Adult Size: 0.23 to 0.43 inches
  • Lifespan: 1 to 2 years
  • Average Price Range: N/A 

The hackled mesh weaver is called so because of the nature of its webs.

It builds a tangled, mesh-like web, which it lays out using one of its legs. When teasing out this web’s shape, the spider uses its leg to comb out or “hackle” it.

The spider’s web resembles a poorly constructed funnel with a tube-like retreat where the spider often hides while waiting for prey to get caught in the web. The spider is most active at night, but it sometimes picks off prey caught in its web during the day.

Although this web isn’t sticky, its mesh or lace-like texture makes it difficult for insects that wander into it to escape. Their legs get caught in the mesh long enough for the hackled mesh weaver to emerge from its retreat and immobilize them with venom.

Hackled mesh weavers aren’t aggressive toward people, and bites are uncommon. The venom they produce also isn’t toxic enough to harm humans, but their bites might hurt a bit.

You’ll find that most hackled mesh weavers outdoors. These spiders are common in woodlands, where the tube-like retreat of their webs often leads to crevices under logs, stones, or tree bark. You may also find them in basements at home.

Hackled mesh weavers are brown arachnids with large dark fangs and hairy legs. The abdomen is also hairy and gray or black, although the center has light brown patterns running down either side of the dark midline.

These patterns form chevrons in the center.

Frequently Asked Questions

You probably still have questions about spiders in Alaska. Read on to get answers to your most pressing questions.

What do spiders in Alaska eat?

Spiders in Alaska and other parts of the world eat arthropods, especially insects.

Insects are a staple because of their abundance relative to other arthropods. However, many spiders also consume other spiders, including their species members.

Besides arthropods, some spiders like fishing spiders consume non-arthropod prey. Tadpoles, slugs, and fish are some of such non-arthropod prey.

Do spiders in Alaska have good eyesight?

Spiders generally have weak eyesight compared to other animals. However, within the group, some species have poor eyesight while others have excellent vision relative to other spiders.

Spiders with keen eyesight are typically hunters that don’t spin webs to catch prey, relying instead on their sight and agility. As a rule, most species that rely on spinning webs to catch prey have poor vision quality.

That’s why they rely on webs for hunting.

Where can I find spiders in Alaska?

You can find spiders anywhere in Alaska.

Your home is the first place to start your search if you aren’t particular about the spider species you want to find. Indoors, these arachnids often hide in basements, attics, ceiling corners, wall crevices, and around unmoved furniture.

You may also find spiders under your porches outside or hiding under rocks and flowerpots. Many spiders like to anchor their webs to vegetation.

These spiders are common in gardens, forests, shrublands, and woodlands.

Are there any poisonous spiders in Alaska?

Yes, there are venomous spiders in Alaska.

However, none of these spiders pose any threat to humans. Still, some species can inflict painful bites that lead to mild reactions in people allergic to spider venom.

Can a spider bite kill you?

Yes, a spider bite can kill you.

Luckily, none of the spiders in Alaska can inflict lethal bites. The state doesn’t have any spider that produces venom strong enough to be medically significant to humans.

What is the deadliest spider in Alaska?

There are no deadly spiders in Alaska. None of the highly venomous spiders in North America live in the state.

Are there brown recluses in Alaska?

No, there are no native brown recluses in Alaska.

You won’t encounter these critters outdoors in Alaska because the state’s cold climate isn’t conducive for them. But if you’ve recently been to other states with this species or brought in cargo from other places, it’s possible to find one or two brown recluses that hitched a ride into your home.

Still, most spiders people report as brown recluses in Alaska aren’t brown recluses. Many of them are hobo spiders or other harmless species easy to mistake for recluses because of their similar shapes and colors.

Are there jumping spiders in Alaska?

Yes, there are jumping spiders in Alaska. These fascinating arachnids make good companions and are common pets among people who love arachnids.

Are there black widows in Alaska?

No, there are no black widows in Alaska. But while the state doesn’t have any native black widow populations, it’s not impossible for these critters to come into your home via cargo and shipments from other states.

The state doesn’t name spiders on its list of banned pets, so it’s safe to say you can own a pet spider in the state without breaking any laws.

But for the avoidance of doubt, it’s best you reach out to the state’s Department of Fish and Game. This is especially relevant if you’re bringing in non-native spiders.

How many species of spiders are there in Alaska?

There are more than 600 species of spiders in Alaska, all of which are harmless to humans.

With the exception of a few species, most species in the state are poorly documented. Many are rare and you’re unlikely to encounter them in your day-to-day life.

What are the most common spiders in Alaska?

Cobweb spiders and house spiders like daddy longlegs are among the most common spiders in Alaska. Orb-weavers are some of the most common outdoor spiders in the state.

Wrapping up

Alaska is home to a diverse collection of spiders. These arachnids have widely varying behaviors and habitats. While some species spin webs to trap prey, others don’t and prefer hunting down their victims.

One of the best things about Alaska’s collection of spiders is that none of them is dangerous to humans. These critters have weak venom and scarcely bite people. Instead, they play beneficial roles in the environment.

Spiders feed primarily on arthropods and small insects. Their consumption of large numbers of these critters helps control their population and reduces the number of insect pests around your home.

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