Saturday, October 12, 2013

Some Spiders Part II

Spiders. You may hate them. You may be apathetic about them. Or, if you're like me, you may love them. Spiders are seriously cool once you get over the fear society tries to instill in you. 9 time out of 10 they won't even bite you unless they think you're trying to kill them (like if you start to squish them). And in Ohio, there's really no reason to be afraid of them. Any of the very, very few semi-dangerous spiders here are ones you have to really search out to find, and not ones you just come across. Okay, now that that rant is over, let's look at a few cool ones I came across from summer to now.

Nursery Web Spider, Pisaurina mira
This is a Nursery Web Spider, Pisaurina mira, found at The Ridges, Athens, OH. This is a female, and it was a really, really large individual. I've seen these before, but this one was essentially double the size of the others I've previously seen. You can identify P. mira by its eye structure, which helps in the ID of many spider species. With P. mira, the two rows of eyes go almost straight across the front of the head, versus being strongly curved. This girl was guarding her dinner from me, which you can see right below her.

Dark Fishing Spider, Dolomedes tenebrosus
Next to jumping spiders, this is one of my favorite types of spiders: the fishing spider. This specific one is a Dark Fishing Spider, Dolomedes tenebrosus, which I found at Conkles Hollow SNP, Hocking County. There are 5 species of fishing spiders in Ohio, and they're definitely the largest types of native spiders in the state. These guys can be massive; I've personally seen individuals that are 5-7 inches across if you measure leg to leg. This individual was probably 3-4 inches across, leg to leg. But while fishing spiders may be massive and scary to the surprised individual, these guys are harmless, and very, very shy. When I see one, they normally run away from me, leaving me to run after them for a photo. The Dark Fishing Spider will sometimes enter homes in Ohio (Been there, done that, mom screamed, the usual), but pose no threat to you. Last tidbit: They aren't like traditional spiders which spin webs; these guys chase their prey and ambush them!

Black Purseweb Spider, Sphodros niger
I came across this spider at the Slate Run Historical Farm (part of Slate Run Metropark, Pickaway Co.), and boy did it catch my attention quickly. I had never seen a spider like this. The head was massive, and look at those massive chelicarae (the appendages that the fangs are attached to). Later, I learned this was a purseweb spider, and someone at the wonderful BugGuide IDed it as a Black Purseweb Spider, Sphodros niger. It reminded me of a tarantula, and sure enough they are related. Pursewebs are what are known as "primitive spiders," along with tarantulas, funnelwebs, and others, and are some of the least evolved spider species. Their hunting technique is also unique compared to other spiders. They build a web tunnel and conceal it. When a bug lands on it, the purseweb spider will burst through and pull the surprised bug into the tunnel to become its next meal.

Araneus pratensis
Many spiders in Ohio are very tiny, but nonetheless can still be very flashy. This is an Araneus pratensis, a species of orbweaver currently with no common name. And that's a piece of prairie grass at Lynx Prairie, Adams County, that it's on. I actually didn't even notice all the colors and designs on it until I got home because it was just so tiny.

And last, here's a wolf spider! As to what species... I don't know. Someone got it down to the genus Schizocosa, but couldn't get any farther. There are currently 10 species in Schizocosa listed in Ohio, and a few could be ruled out, but we could never decide on a definite one. Anyway, I found this individual at my house in Pickaway County, and it was a pretty large wolf spider compared to the more common ones that I see. The colors on this spider were spectacular, with browns, oranges, and creams all taking place. Wolf spiders are another type of roaming spider that actively hunts prey, versus waiting for a web to do their work.

Hope you enjoyed! Remember, spiders are your friends, not your enemies! And fish are friends, not food, Dory!


  1. I saw a nursery web spider while walking a trail at Strouds Run State Park. Seeing a bright orange spider while walking a trail is rather striking (almost as striking as encountering a two-foot tall fire ant mound on a trail at Burr Oak State Park).

    Nice post!

  2. Just found a spider that was about 3-4 inches from leg to leg, but I am unable to identify it. also could not get a decent photo of it. I know it was a jumping spider, but the markings could make it either a wolf spider or a dark fisher spider. Just from the fact that it did not run from me, I would guess it was a wolf spider. Thanks for your pictures, they helped narrow down which large spider it was.