Texas Spider Encounters


B. Processed spider photos and reports for 2007. Click on a photo for details:


This and the pages that follow provide basic technical and anecdotal information on spiders encountered in Texas, as well as in the United States at large, and--for spiders of unusual medical importance--throughout the world. Visitors are invited to contribute personal experiences and photographs, which are posted with added remarks as time permits.

If you send photos via email attachment, please attach the highest resolution images available. Be sure to include information on where the spider encounter took place, and the date of the encounter, if known. I try to reply to emails the moment I read them, as I've learned from experience that they may not get answered at all otherwise.

In order to reply to emails about spiders quickly, my replies are often terse and pithy, rather than long and detailed. At minimum I try to identify your spider to species and gender, and tell you if it is considered dangerously harmful.

In the editorial comments supplied with the posted photographs found on the following links, I often include technicalities obtained from textbooks, published papers, guides, or books authored by imminent authorities in the fields of zoology, biology, or arachnology.  Whenever practical, but not always, these authorities are identified. Unless specifically stated that a technical observation is my own, you may presume it came from another source. Anyone desiring to know the source of an observation mentioned in these pages is invited to inquire in that regard. Obviously, any analysis of a specimen posted here, identifying it to species and/or gender--whether accurately or erroneously--is mine alone.

No doubt some of the "identifications" provided here are in error. As--not if (they are there)--you find such errors, please point them out to me so corrections may be made.

Two lists of species presently included (photos and text) on this site follow:

I. Alphabetical order, by Common Name:


Brown recluse spiders in Texas and North America


Opiliones-- Burleson, TX--14 May 2007


Australian crab spider (Thomisus spectabilis), Max Badgley Collection


31 July 2007, cow's face spider (Pisauridae), Cedar Park, Texas

31 July 2007, nursery web spider (Pisauridae) male, Cedar Park, Texas

3 July 2007, dark fishing spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus), Porter, Texas


2006, green lynx (Peucetia viridans), Round Rock, Texas

--JUMPING SPIDERS (Salticidae):

2 June 2007, redbacked jumping spider (Phidippus johnsoni), San Isidro, Texas

15 May 2007, bold jumping spider (Phidippus audax), Harker Heights, Texas


16 June 2006, southern black widow (Latrodectus mactans), Jacksonville, Texas

12 April 2007, southern black widow female (Latrodectus mactans), Jacksonville, Texas

12 April 2007, southern black widow male (Latrodectus mactans), Jacksonville, Texas


1995, southern house spider (Kukulcania hibernalis), Central Texas


11 August 2007, orchard orbweaver (Leucauge venusta) adult female, The Woodlands, Texas

28 July 2007, banded garden spider (Argiope trifasciata) hatchlings, Justin, Texas

28 July 2007, yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) adult female, Justin, Texas

21 July 2007, banded garden spider (Argiope trifasciata), Justin, Texas

21 July 2007, giant lichen orbweaver (Araneus bicentenarius), Helotes, Texas

19 July 2007, giant lichen orbweaver (Araneus bicentenarius), Helotes, Texas

15 July 2007, golden silk orbweaver (Nephila clavipes) adult female, Houston, Texas

12 July 2007, golden silk orbweaver (Nephila clavipes), Houston, Texas

15 June 2007, western spotted orbweaver (Neoscona oaxacensis), San Antonio, Texas

6 June 2007, western spotted orbweaver, Female (Neoscona oaxacensis), Dripping Springs, Texas

6 June 2007, western spotted orbweaver, Male (Neoscona oaxacensis), Dripping Springs, Texas

3 June 2007, arabesque orbweaver (Neoscona arabesca), Houston, Texas

1 June 2007, spinybacked orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis), Houston, Texas

2006, yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), College Station, Texas

2006. spinybacked orbweaver (Gasteracantha cancriformis), College Station, Texas

2002, yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), San Antonio, Texas

2002, yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), Southlake, Texas 

 2001, yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), Round Rock, Texas


Texas tarantula (Aponopelma spp.): Manchaca, Texas--23 March 2007

--WOLF SPIDERS (Lycosidae):

Temple, Texas--2003

Harker Heights, Texas--19 April 2007

Harker Heights, Texas--15 April 2007


II. By Taxa:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda (Crustaceans, Insects, Spiders, and their relatives)

Class: Arachnida (Eight legs, one to two body parts)

Order: Opiliones (The Harvestmen)

Harvestmen are not spiders, but look much like them from a distance.  They have two eyes, one body part, and breathe from trachea. The most commonly seen harvestman is the Daddy Long-legs:

Family: Phalangiidae  (Daddy Long-Legs):

Burleson, TX--14 May 2007

Order: Araneae (The Spiders)

Spiders have from six to eight eyes (most often eight), and the abdomen is attached to the cephalothorax by a narrow stalk.  All spiders produce silk. Many use it to trap insects in webs, though many others hunt freely, unencumbered by the need to remain in one location as web-bound spiders do. All spiders, except those in the families Uloboridae and Holarchaeidae, and in the suborder Mesothelae, are able to inject venom to protect themselves or to kill and pre-digest prey. Approximately 40,000 species of spiders have been identified.  The vast majority are beneficial to man, by virtue of the control they exercise over insects and other pests. Only 200 of that total--i.e., about one half of one percent--have bites known to pose health problems to humans.  Many others produce bites that can be painful, but that do not cause lasting health problems.


Suborder: Mygalomorphae (Tarantulas and Australasian Funnel-web Spiders)

Members of this suborder have stout legs and bodies, with downward-pointing chelicerae.  Tarantulas found in Texas are not dangerous, though they do bite and inject venom.


Superfamily: Theraphosoidea (Tarantulas):

Family: Theraphosidae  (113 genera, 897 species):

Genus: Aphonopelma:

Species: Aphonopelma spp. (Tarantulas)

At least 14 separate species of tarantulas from the genus Aphonopelma are represented in Texas.  Species identification cannot be done without performing microscopic examination of mature males.

***The Texas Tarantula: Manchaca, Texas--23 March 2007***


Suborder: Araneomorphae (The Common Spiders, excluding the Mygalomorphs [tarantulas] and Mesothelae [segmented spiders])

Members of this suborder have chelicerae (jaws and mouthparts) that point diagonally forward and cross in a pinching action, in contrast to the Mygalomorphae (tarantulas and their close kin), which have chelicerae that point straight down. Most of the spiders encountered by people belong to this suborder.  This suborder is presently divided into 28 superfamilies,  nearly 100 families, over 3,600 genera, and some 39,000 species:


Superfamily: Filistatoidea (Crevice Weavers):

Family: Filistatidae (16 genera, 109 species of Crevice Weavers):

Genus: Kukulcania:

Species: Kukulcania hibernalis (Southern House Spider)

This is one of the most common house spiders found in the southern states, including Texas.  Male specimens are often pointed out to me, by home and business owners, as brown recluse spiders, because they are brown in color, with a darker brown marking on the carapace that superficially resembles a violin.  The female is much darker in color, often with conspicuous white coxae--the first joint of each leg, where the leg attaches to the thorax--and is only rarely mistaken for a brown recluse. Some authorities claim that the male of this species lacks the violin marking, but that claim--in my opinion--is a mere technicality that stems from disparate views on what a "fiddle marking" looks like.  Other authorities agree that it is almost impossible to distinguish between this species and the brown recluse with the naked eye, though a microscopic examination of the head easily reveals that the southern house spider has eight eyes, arranged in two clusters of four, while the brown recluse has six eyes arranged in three pairs. Click on the following link for a close look at the southern house spider:

***A Brown Recluse Look-Alike: Central Texas--1995***


Superfamily: Scytodoidea (False violin, Spitting, and Recluse Spiders):

Family: Sicariidaea (Recluse Spiders):

Genus: Loxosceles :

Species: Loxosceles reclusa (Brown Recluse Spider)

Note: Though I've collected and studied spiders throughout all of Texas (except the northern half of the panhandle) for almost thirty years, I've never found a brown recluse anywhere in the state.  Many look-alikes, however, have been pointed out to me. It happens that a variety of spiders have exterior appearances that are "brown-recluse-like", but that--on close examination of the eyes--are found to be another, harmless, species (e.g., Kukulcania hibernalis, the southern house spider, described above).  Anyone, especially in Texas, who finds a spider they believe to be a brown recluse is urged to contact me via email or by telephone:  512-331-1111-- Jerry Cates. 


Superfamily: Aranenoidea (Orb-weavers, Dward/Money Spiders, Large-jawed, and Cobweb Spiders):

Family: Araneidae (Orb Weavers):

This family, along with the Uloborids, generally spins orb webs, and includes over 3,500 species found throughout the world.  Nearly 200 species are found in the United States and in Canada.  They have poor vision, and use threads in their webs to locate prey.  Captured prey are approached, wrapped in silk, inoculated with venom, and carried to a retreat (the center of the web or a sheltered corner) where edible portions of the prey are eaten.

Genus: Argiope:

Species: Argiope aurantia Lucas (Yellow Garden Spider; Writing Spider)

Round Rock, Texas 2001

San Antonio, Texas 2002

Southlake, Texas 2002 

College Station, Texas 2006

Genus: Gasteracantha: Tropical spiders with hard abdomens armed with spines; these spiders hang in the middle of webs that are adorned with tufts of white silk, often high in trees.

Species: Gasteracantha cancriformis (Spinybacked Orb Weaver)

College Station, Texas 2006

Family: Theridiidae (Variously known as Cobweb, Tangle web, or Comb-Footed Spiders):

Genus: Latrodectus: Widow Spiders.

Species: Latrodectus mactans (Southern Black Widow)

This venomous spider is found throughout the state, but is more common in central and east Texas.  Its bite is dangerous if not treated, but with proper medical intervention is almost never fatal.

Jacksonville, Texas--16 June 2006

Jacksonville, Texas (Female)--12 April 2007

Jacksonville, Texas (Male)--12 Apirl 2007


Superfamily: Lycosoidea (Wolf, Lynx, Nursery Web, Zorocratid, and Zoropsid Spiders):

Family: Lycosidae (Wolf Spiders):

Genus: Lycosa

Harker Heights, Texas--19 April 2007

Harker Heights, Texas--15 April 2007

Temple, Texas--2003

Family: Oxyopidae (Lynx Spiders):

Genus: Peucetia (Green Lynx Spiders)

Species: Peucetia viridans (Green Lynx Spider)

Round Rock, Texas--2006


Superfamily: Pholcoidea (Two families of six-eyed spiders [Coneweb, Daddy Long-legs], and one family of eight-eyed Plectreurid Spiders):

Family: Pholcidae (80 genera, 959 species of daddy long-legs spiders):

Genus: Pholcus

Species: Pholcus phalangioides (Daddy Long-Legs)


Superfamily: Salticoidea (Jumping Spiders):

Family: Salticidae "Saltids" (>550 genera, >5,000 species):

Genus: Phidippus

Species: Phidippus audax (the Bold Jumping Spider)

The Bold jumping spider (Phidippus audax) is found throughout North America (including eastern Canada), is most common along the East Coast, and is rarely observed west of the Rockies. These spiders frequent gardens around human dwellings on tree trunks, in vegetation, under stones, on boards, and inside houses where they prefer sunlit window sills. Their eight eyes are distinctive. Two forward-facing anterior median (AM) eyes are the largest and are set in a flat, vertical face. When you look at the spider, its AM eyes look back, almost (to me) like two large headlights (these eyes are able to produce sharp images during the daytime, but are useless at night; thus this species is diurnally active, nocturnally inactive). To each side of each AM eye is a smaller anterior lateral (AL) eye (used to judge distances). Behind the AL eyes, almost on top of the head, are two posterior median (PM) and two posterior lateral (PL) eyes.

As good vision is necessary for its hunting and courting success, Jumping spiders have keen eyesight. Bold jumpers are hairy. The cephalothorax and abdomen are black with white hairs. The abdomen is marked in its center by a large, triangular white or red spot. Other spots, posterior to the central white spot, range from white to yellow or orange. Some have two oblique lateral stripes as well. Many have metallic, iridescent green chelicerae. Powerful hind legs enable the spider to leap up to 


Superfamily: Thomisoidea (Crab Spiders):

Family: Thomisidae (170 genera, 2,026 species of crab spiders):

Genus: Thomisus

Species: Thomisus spectabilis (Australian crab spider)

Max Badgley Photography Collection