How to Identify Spiders in Connecticut

By Diane Steinbach
Wikipedia photo by T. Tarvainis

Spiders found on the east coast, and in Connecticut specifically, are not very different from those found in other parts of the United States. There are a variety of poisonous and non-venomous spiders, and their markings and characteristics make each breed a very different arachnid. Knowing which ones you should squish and which you should run away from (or at least keep outdoors) is vital, especially if you have children. If you need to identify the spiders in and around your Connecticut home, here is how to do it.

Look at the size of the spider. Most spiders in Connecticut are of average size, although there are some Genus Argiope spiders that can grow rather large. While you are examining the spider, you'll be able to determine if it has prominent eyes extended away from its body, like the hobo spider, or if it is carrying an egg sac, as the nursery web spider does. These attributes will also help you to identify and distinguish the different spiders common to Connecticut.

Note the markings of the spider. Spiders such as the orbit weaver and the brown recluse, both prevalent in Connecticut, have an intricate design on their backs that will clue you in to their identity. It's important to be able to identify spiders like the brown recluse and the black widow because of their harmful venom; the markings of other spiders, such as the grass spider, are just for camouflage, and their beauty can be appreciated without fear.

Observe your location. Various breeds of Connecticut spiders populate different areas. Nursery web spiders may be found near the water, as they are pros at skimming along on the surface, while black widows are usually found in woodpiles and crawl spaces, where their nests won't be disturbed.

Consult a chart. Pick up a spider chart from your local pest-control company or print one out from the site in Resources. The chart will come in handy when you are-confronted by a fuzzy-legged spider, as non-venomous spiders can be useful to keep around the yard. Their webs catch troublesome flies, and can keep your environment pest-free.

Make sure what you are looking at is indeed a spider. The pseudoscorpion is a common arachnid in Connecticut, but is actually a spider-eater! Their short reddish bodies resemble that of a small scorpion, and they love to take a ride on clothing or pets to get into your home. They don't bite or sting, but keep them outside if you can.