Though the largest spiders in Indiana may be the most jarring to come across, the smaller spiders of the state, such as the brown recluse spider, are the most dangerous. Spiders that have bodies larger than 1 inch are typically considered to be large spiders. Within Indiana there are three common large spiders -- wolf, fishing and yellow garden spiders.
One of the most common large spiders found in Indiana is the wolf spider. These spiders have a body of approximately 1 inch in length with a leg span of approximately 2 inches. Wolf spiders are brown with light gray markings across their bodies and have a discernible hairiness which makes them resemble small tarantulas. Rather than waiting for food to come to them, wolf spiders are hunters and thus rarely build webs to catch their prey. Wolf spiders will only bite defensively, and the toxins found in the wolf spiders of Indiana will not produce any infection.
Fishing spiders are named so because they are partially aquatic and generally live underneath docks, in corners of boats and in other dark, damp places. Because of their large, 3-inch leg span they are able to walk on water. Though fishing spiders resemble wolf spiders, they have a larger leg span and distinctive brown markings on their bodies. Like wolf spiders, fishing spiders are also predominantly hunters and can dive underneath the surface of the water to feed on aquatic insects. Because of this, fishing spiders also rarely create webs, and when they do it is usually to protect their egg sacs.
Yellow Garden Spiders
Yellow garden spiders have a body approximately 1 inch in size, with a leg span of up to 2 1/2 inches. These spiders have distinctive bright yellow and black markings on their backs. Unlike the wolf and fishing spiders, the yellow garden spider catches its prey using a web. These webs have a distinctive zigzag pattern and are commonly built on the eaves of houses and in tall vegetation. Though the yellow garden spider can become aggressive when provoked, its bite contains only a small amount of neurotoxin and generally only results in mild itching and swelling.
Though most of the other spiders commonly found in Indiana are smaller than 1 inch in size, there are still a considerable number of medium-sized spiders in the state. For instance, the bold jumping spider can grow to be up to 1 1/2 inches in size and is black and gray in appearance, with a distinctive hairiness. And the hobo spider found in Indiana can grow to almost an inch. These spiders have a mild bite that can cause scabbing, pain, headaches and nausea. Hobo spiders are often commonly mistaken for the smaller, but more toxic, brown recluse spider.