How to Identify Maryland Spiders

If you live in Maryland, chances are you’ve encountered a spider or two in your home or backyard. While most spiders in Maryland are harmless, it’s still important to know how to identify them if you encounter a potentially dangerous species. Here are some tips for identifying Maryland spiders.

There are many different types of spiders living in the southern regions of the United States, and some are even native to Maryland. Some of them are poisonous, some of them are harmless, and some of them help to keep the number of insect pests living around our houses low.

However, if you get a visit from one of these eight-legged guardians, it is important to know how to identify different types of spiders so that you can tell which ones are dangerous and which ones can be calmly moved outside.

  1. Judge how large the spider is by looking at the length of its body and the length of its legs.
  2. Check to see if the spider has a body that is 1 inch or more in length without including the leg span. If it does, then the spider is most likely a wolf spider or a fishing spider. If the spider has a body that is less than 1 inch long without including the leg span, then you skip to Step 5.
  3. Determine if it is a wolf spider. This type will have a leg span of about 2 inches. It is brown with a dark gray-black cross pattern on its back and very furry and bulky looking. Wolf spiders are rarely found indoors, only mildly venomous, and their bites will usually only cause itching.
  4. Estimate how long the spider’s leg span is. If the leg span is around 3 inches, and the spider is a dark brown color with light and dark gray markings, then it could be a fishing spider. These spiders enjoy living near water and dark, damp places. They can run across the water to hunt for prey. They do not maintain a web and are poisonous enough to cause minor redness and necrosis near their bites.
  5. Do not attempt to measure the leg span of smaller spiders. It is much easier to tell these spiders apart by looking for distinct traits or markings. In Maryland, these spiders could be yellow house spiders, brown recluse spiders, black widows, flower spiders, bold jumping spiders, cellar spiders, or cobweb spiders.
  6. Look for a yellow-green color on the spider’s body and a darker color on its legs. If this coloration is present and the spider is about 1/4 inch long, then it is probably a yellow house spider. These spiders cannot puncture the skin of all people, and even if they do, they are only mildly venomous.
  7. Check to see if the spider is brown and smooth with a violin-shaped pattern on its back. If it fits this description, the spider is likely a brown recluse spider. These spiders are very poisonous and aggressive, and they enjoy hiding in soft places like the arms and legs of clothing, bedding, or pillows more than any other spider in Maryland.
  8. Look at the coloration of the spider and see if it is black with a red hourglass-shaped pattern on its underbelly. If it is, then it is almost certainly a black widow. These spiders have poisonous venom and hang upside down from their rough, messy webs.
  9. Check to see if the spider is brightly colored and found amongst a cluster of flowers. If it is, the spider is most likely a flower spider. These spiders are crab spiders, and they will wait for unsuspecting bees or butterflies to land near the clusters of flowers. Flower spiders are not dangerous to humans.
  10. Look carefully at the spider to see if it is black with a white marking on its back. Also, if the spider is jumping around, this is another big sign that the spider you are looking at is a bold jumping spider. These spiders are aggressive and spunky, with a bite that hurts but lacks any dangerous poison.
  11. Look to see if the spider has a very small body with relatively long legs. If the spider fits this description, and was found in a dark, damp place, then it is most likely a cellar spider. These spiders cannot penetrate human skin.
  12. Check the spider in question to see if it is brown with triangle-shaped tan markings on its back. If it is, then this spider is most likely a triangulate cobweb spider. These spiders are not dangerous to humans but hunt brown recluse spiders and black widows.

A field guide can be a helpful resource if you’re still having trouble identifying a spider. Look for a guide specific to spiders in the mid-Atlantic region or Maryland. Use the photos and descriptions to help narrow down the possibilities. Be sure to read up on any potentially dangerous species, so you know what to look out for.

Using these tips, you can become more adept at identifying spiders in Maryland. While most spiders in the state are harmless, it’s still important to exercise caution and be aware of any potentially dangerous species. You can coexist with these eight-legged creatures in your home and backyard with some knowledge and awareness.

The Cleaning Coach is a nationally-recognized green homekeeping expert dedicated to educating people on keeping their homes, schools and work areas GREEN.