Spiders of the World

Searching For Spiders

Before searching for spiders, please take note:
Although most spiders in North America and Europe are not poisonous, there are a few exceptions, including widows and Violin spiders. Violin spider bites are painful; the skin tissue around the bite collapses and takes several months to heal. Widow bites result in severe stomachaches and fever for a few days.

When searching for spiders, you will need to write down the numbers of spiders you find in each family so that you can submit that information to the JASON Project Spider Database. Master 1.5h "Number of Spider Families" in the JASON Curriculum is a convenient form on which to record your data. You can also print out a copy of the online Spider Data Entry Form to take with you.

Dr. Gillespie writes:

"I do my field work on all islands and in all habitats. I usually look for spiders at night because they are most active at this time: During the day they are often hidden in crevices or in the leaf litter, and are almost impossible to find. However, as dusk falls, spiders mysteriously appear from all around, hanging on silken threads, or industriously building their webs before commencing the night's feeding."

"Spiders can be found almost anywhere -- in homes, garages, fields, forests, roadsides, etc. To find spiders, it is best to locate them in their natural habitat. Two of the best techniques are:

  1. Night collecting-- Many spiders are more active at night than by day. So if you go out with a headlamp, you can see spiders sitting out on their webs or running around. Also, if you shine your light on the ground, you'll often see the eyes of wolf spiders shining back at you like two miniature headlamps.
  2. Sweeping shrubs and leaves, etc. with an insect net is a good way to get lots of different spiders. After each sweep, look in the net and see what spiders you have in order to determine the ecological associations of the particular species you're getting."

Spiders of the World


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Gene Carl Feldman (gene@seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov) (301) 286-9428
Todd Carlo Viola, JASON Foundation for Education (todd@jason.org)