Two spiders found in western NC

Asked October 2, 2017, 12:47 AM EDT

The blue, yellow & black one was outside. The other, which I believe is a Brown Recluse, was in the house! Yikes!

Haywood County North Carolina

1 Response

Thank you for your question. Identifying spiders based on photographs alone can be difficult, because you usually can't see all the key characteristics you need to make a positive identification. Because of the angle of the photo, you usually can't see all of the dorsal, or back, of the spider, or all of the underside of the abdomen, number of eyes and eye placement, etc.

That being said, I believe the silverish-green spider is an Orchard Orbweaver, scientific name Leucage venusta. The underside of the abdomen has a black spot containing a horseshoe shaped red to orange marking. There are also two reddish-orange dots at the back of the underside of the abdomen. They are found in mixed hardwood forests, but I have also found them in urban areas in iris patches. Here's a link with additional information on this species:

The second photograph wasn't taken close enough to make out many details. However, it's definitely not a Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa). It looks like one of the species of grass spider, genus Agelenopsis. This genus is part of the funnel web family. There are at least 10 species of grass spiders in the Carolinas. They are very difficult to identify to species level. You often see large numbers of their dew soaked webs spread throughout the grass in the early morning. Their webs are not sticky. If you examine the web, you'll see that one end tapers into a funnel-like retreat. The spider hides in the retreat, but if an insect comes onto the web, the spider can feel vibrations in the silk strands. The spider then darts out and attacks its prey. Here's a link with more information on this species:

An excellent, and relatively inexpensive, field guide to common spiders in the Carolinas is:

Gaddy, L.L. (2009). Spiders of the Carolinas. Duluth: Kollath + Stensaas Publishing.

Hope this answers your question, and thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.