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Indiana is known for its scenic beauty and diverse wildlife, ranging from majestic eagles soaring in the sky to tiny beetles crawling on the forest floor. But among all the fascinating creatures, brown spiders are one of the most creepy and misunderstood.
In Indiana, there are several species of brown spiders, each with its own characteristics and habitats. From the elusive brown recluse to the common house spider, these arachnids are an essential part of Indiana’s ecosystem and a reminder of the beauty and complexity of nature. Let’s jump into the world of brown spiders in Indiana and discover their secrets and mysteries.
1. Starbellied Orb Weaver (Acanthepeira stellata)
Encountering the starbellied orb weaver is common for those living or visiting Indiana, as this orb weaver species is prevalent in the state.
Starbellied spiders have a predominantly orange or brownish body, with some individuals displaying a brownish-gray hue. Their most distinguishing feature is their abdomen, which is crowned with several spikes resembling a star, where they get their name. This distinctive shape sets them apart from other orb weavers and spider species, making them easily recognizable.
The female of this species can grow up to 0.6 inches in body size, whereas the male is slightly smaller.
The primary source of sustenance for starbellied orb weavers is their intricate web, which they spin vertically a few feet above the ground. The web typically has a diameter of up to 1 foot. The spider positions itself at the center of the web, patiently waiting for small flying insects to become ensnared in its trap. The starbellied orb weaver’s diet comprises moths, beetles, wasps, and flies.
These spiders are commonly found in areas with a plentiful supply of prey and suitable structures to support their webs. These spiders can be found dwelling in various habitats, such as near street lamps, on branches of trees, amidst tall grass and weeds, along fences and walls, and in the midst of bushes.
Despite their formidable appearance, with bright yellow patterns often associated with highly venomous spiders in the wild, orb weavers are harmless to humans and pets. Their venom is not potent enough to cause any harm.
- Orb weavers are beneficial predators as they prey on pest insects.
- These spiders are generally docile and non-aggressive toward humans, and it is rare for them to bite.
- Some species of orb weavers can grow to be as large as 4 inches.
2. Brown Spiders in Indiana: Triangulate Cobweb Spider (Steatoda triangulosa)
In Indiana, it is not uncommon to come across the triangulate cobweb spider. This house spider species belongs to the Steatoda genus.
With its spindly yellowish legs and tiny hairs, the adult female triangulate cobweb spider measures between 1/8 to 1/4 inches. The spider’s cephalothorax is brownish-orange in color. Its round abdomen is creamy with purply-brown zigzag lines running parallel from back to front.
The triangulate cobweb spider is almost blind and relies heavily on vibrations transmitted through their webs to locate prey. Their web also helps them detect potential threats from larger animals that could cause them harm or even kill them.
The diet of the triangulate cobweb spider consists primarily of arthropods and small insects, such as spiders, pill bugs, and ticks. Despite their small size, they can overpower prey much larger than themselves, thanks to their potent insecticidal venom.
This species is predominantly a house spider, known to spin webs in the dark corners of buildings and other human-made structures.
While these spiders are not venomous to humans, they can still inflict pain if accidentally squeezed or when their barbed hairs attach to the skin. If bitten, the sensation is typically similar to that of a bee sting.
- The triangulate cobweb spider preys on multiple spider species, including the brown recluse, which is known to be harmful to humans.
- Although their venom is not lethal to humans, an allergic reaction may occur in some cases.
- These spiders spend several hours constructing their webs and consuming their prey the rest of their day.
3. Brown Spiders in Indiana: Brown Recluse (Loxosceles reclusa)
The brown recluse spider has a wide distribution range, including numerous counties in the southern region of Indiana.
The brown recluse spider has a distinct appearance, with a chocolate brown body measuring around 0.35 inches long. It has long legs, three pairs of eyes arranged in a triad, and a violin-shaped pattern on the cephalothorax positioned near the eyes. Both male and female brown recluse spiders look very similar.
Brown recluse spiders are primarily active at night and build webs that function as shelters and trigger systems. These webs enable the spiders to detect nearby prey and actively hunt them down. Brown recluse spiders are carnivorous in nature, and their diet primarily consists of insects, but they will also consume other small arthropods like millipedes and mites. These spiders are nocturnal hunters, and they usually forage for food at night.
The brown recluse spider tends to inhabit crevices located beneath rocks and the bark of dead trees and logs. When living in structures, they prefer to reside in cracks on walls and boards and behind or underneath objects kept in storage. Warm and dry nesting sites are the preferred habitats of the brown recluse spider.
Like other brown spiders, its venom has cytotoxic and hemolytic properties. Despite its potent venom, this small spider is not typically aggressive toward humans and will only bite when threatened. Avoid this spider at all costs just to be safe.
- Less than 1% of brown recluse spider bites result in systemic symptoms, which may include acute kidney injury and hemolytic anemia.
- Brown recluse spiders are predominantly active between March and October.
- Due to their small fangs, brown recluse spiders cannot bite through clothing.
4. American Grass Spiders (Agelenopsis)
American grass spiders are known for their impressive speed, making them one of the quickest spiders in Indiana.
The American grass spider is identifiable by its unique chevron patterns and yellowish-brown coloration. Its body showcases a blend of different shades of brown. The abdomen also features long spinnerets that resemble short tails on the spider’s body.
In terms of size, females measure between 0.39 to 0.78 inches, while males measure around 0.31 to 0.70 inches in length.
The American grass spider is a highly agile species known for its fast movements, allowing it to capture prey and pull it into its funnel-shaped web swiftly. Despite their impressive hunting skills, these spiders are generally shy and tend to avoid contact with humans whenever possible.
American grass spiders feed on various small insects commonly found in grassy areas and lawns, such as grasshoppers, aphids, and moths. As natural predators, these spiders are essential in controlling insect populations. However, when grass spider populations become too dense, they can become a nuisance.
Usually, these spiders construct their webs a few inches above the ground, primarily in short grasses and window wells of outbuildings. You can commonly find them on lawns, especially in areas with short grass.
It is important to note that grass spiders are not venomous and pose no danger to humans. These spiders do not threaten your lawn or garden, even though their webs may be unsightly.
- The fangs of American grass spiders are too small to break through human skin.
- A total of 14 distinct species of grass spiders have been identified.
- Grass spiders have a variety of natural predators, including lizards, birds, and centipedes, that play a crucial role in balancing the ecosystem.
5. Brown Spiders in Indiana: Wetland Giant Wolf Spider (Tigrosa helluo)
Indiana is home to various spiders, including Tigrosa helluo, which is considered one of the larger species of spiders.
The wetland giant wolf spider is easily recognizable by its brown upper shell and distinctive yellow stripe that starts from its anterior eyes and extends down the cephalothorax. A key feature distinguishing it from other wolf spiders is the presence of distinct black spots on the underside of its abdomen.
These spiders can range in size from half an inch to over two inches, making them quite large and hairy.
Wolf spiders are skilled predators that use their keen senses to actively chase or pounce on their prey, much like wolves, instead of relying on a web to catch their meals. Unlike wolves that hunt in packs, these spiders typically live and hunt alone. Wetland giant wolf spiders are mostly active at night.
Wolf spiders have a varied diet and typically feed on a variety of insects and other small spiders. Tigrosa helluo, in particular, is known to survive on a diet consisting of insects such as crickets, fly grubs, cockroaches, mealworms, and even beetles. These spiders can adapt their diet to what is available in their environment.
These spiders can be found in various habitats, ranging from marshes and woods to fields and riparian areas. However, they typically prefer wetter environments over dry ones. This means they are often found in areas with high humidity, such as near bodies of water.
Wolf spiders, including Tigrosa helluo, are generally not considered a threat to humans. While it is possible to have an allergic reaction to their venom, they are not typically poisonous to people. However, due to their large size, their bite can be painful.
- The majority of species in this family do not spin webs.
- After catching their prey, wolf spiders either mash it into a ball or inject it with venom.
- Wetland giant wolf spiders spend most of their time on the ground.
6. Brown Spiders in Indiana: Asiatic Wall Jumping Spider (Attulus fasciger)
In the 1950s, this species was brought over from Asia and has since spread throughout North America, becoming quite prevalent.
Shades of brown and a dense white and brown hair covering characterize the spider’s appearance. The white hairs create a noticeable line running down the middle of the spider’s body. Female Asiatic wall-jumping spiders are slightly bigger than their male counterparts.
Asiatic wall-jumping spiders are well-known for their unique ability to jump to catch their prey, but they also use this skill to escape danger. In addition to their agility, these spiders have demonstrated remarkable intelligence. In a study conducted in 2018, researchers were able to train a species of jumping spider, the Phidippus regius, to jump from one platform to another.
Asiatic wall-jumping spiders are known to inhabit various habitats, including vegetation, woodpiles, and rocky areas. Interestingly, they have also been found to prefer man-made structures with artificial lightings, such as buildings.
They are not very picky eaters and will consume anything they can catch with their chelicerae or jaws. They tend to prefer small, vulnerable prey such as mealworms, flies, moths, and other similarly-sized insects.
Although Asiatic wall-jumping spiders have fangs and can produce venom, their venom is not considered medically significant to humans.
- The Asiatic wall jumping spider is indigenous to Japan, Korea, China, Russia, and Mongolia.
- These spiders are typically active from May to October.
- As a result of their unique appearance and behavior, Asiatic wall-jumping spiders are sometimes kept as exotic pets.
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About the Author
I have been a freelance writer for the past 2 years. I have a huge love of animals and I love building my knowledge of animals through research. I love sea creatures in particular, my favorite being the octopus because of their intelligence, and I mean, come on, what's not to love! I have a rescue boxer named Dante who is the friendliest pup a man could ask for.
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