Vermont is home to many of the same species of spiders found throughout the northeast and some parts of southeastern Canada. While there are no native species of venomous spiders with fatal bites found in Vermont, some of the spiders will bite humans who handle or provoke them. Each species has its own special characteristics that make them interesting.
Cellar or Daddy Longlegs Spider
At 1/3 inch long, these small spiders are easily identifiable because of their long slender legs that can extend up to two inches. This is the origin of their most common name, daddy longlegs. They are usually a whitish or yellowish color.
These common spiders are found in Vermont as well as the large majority of the United States. The spiders can be found almost anywhere, but are usually present in warehouses, cellars and barns. Because they are found mostly indoors, these common Vermont spiders can be found all year.
These common Vermont spiders take their name from the funnel-shaped web that they spin to catch prey. These 1/2-inch long spiders come in various shades of brown, gray, white, black and yellow.
Funnel weavers are mostly found during late summer and early fall. Their webs are usually spun in the grass or over shrubs where their funnels afford them good camouflage to attack from after an insect is trapped in the web.
The most common species found in Vermont is the grass spider.
The orb weaver is also known by the name garden spider. As with the funnel spider, the orb weaver derives its name from the way that it spins its web. Orb weavers choose tall vegetation or gardens that have a large number of flying insects to place their webs.
The orb weaver is one of the most common spiders in Vermont. It can reach up to one inch in length and is also found in a variety of earth-tones such as black, yellow, orange, red and brown. These spiders are not venomous, but may bite if handled or provoked.
The most common species found in Vermont are the marbled orb weaver, the common orb weaver, the spotted orb weaver and the yellow garden spider.
Sac spiders, also called two-clawed hunting spiders, have been identified in numerous cases of spider bites in Vermont. They are not deadly, but their cytotoxic venom may cause some discomfort at the site of the bite.
Their common names come from the claws found on the ends of their legs. The females of the species are larger than the males; measuring up to 3/4 inch versus the 1/4-inch size of the male. These common spiders are light brown and can be found indoors and out. The sac spiders do not spin webs. When indoors, they hunt on the ceilings and in wall spaces. Instead of a web, the sac spider spins a sac open on both ends and places it in rolled-up leaves or under rocks as a trap.
The running spider is the species of sac spider most commonly found in Vermont.
The peculiar crab spider has the ability to move in any direction just like a real crab. This common Vermont spider measures less than 1/2 inch and has front legs that are slightly longer than the back legs. The bodies of some of the species have horns or other growths that help them resemble bird droppings or the plants they frequent.
Just like the sac spider, the crab spider does not spin webs. It prefers to hunt its prey in the trees or on the ground, relying on its special coloring and its special growths for camouflage. To that end, the crab spider can alter its color to mimic the tree or ground cover and plants they frequent.
The goldenrod crab spider is the most common species found in Vermont.
These 1/2-inch spiders have the ability to jump in order to catch their prey in mid-flight or to pounce on them. They have hairy bodies and usually come in bright colors with iridescent tones. However, some are black with markings that resemble the black widow.
These spiders are generally active during the day and tend to live outdoors. Sometimes they are seen on screen doors or other areas where the sunlight penetrates the home; they can be carried in on firewood. Besides their ability to jump, these spiders also have the best vision of all spiders and rely on that in order to catch their prey.
To the untrained eye, the wolf spider may be mistaken for a tarantula. Their 1/2-inch bodies are covered in hairs that make them look like their distant cousins. While they are mostly are dark brown, specimens have been found with a variety of color variations that include specks of black, gray, white, yellow, orange or green.
These nocturnal spiders are common to the natural areas of Vermont and do not tend to establish themselves indoors. However, when the weather turns cooler, these common spiders will look for warm, dark areas such as basements or cellars. They use their incredible speed to hunt and kill their prey. The spiders are not aggressive, but will bite if handled or provoked.