How to Identify Spiders Around the House

Updated February 21, 2017

Spiders come in all shapes and sizes and while most of us are content to simply get a tissue or escort an indoor visitor outside, the fact that spiders can be venomous must be taken into consideration. After all, where there is one spider, there are probably more, and although the brown recluse spider has got plenty of press due to its damaging bite, there are plenty of other spiders out there to be wary of. Identifying your spider is the best way to know if you should avoid the eight legged beast or be thankful that it’s eating the flies in your doorway.

Note the size and colour. Swallow your fear and take a good look. Estimate the size of your spider as well as any relevant markings on its body. Markings vary widely from spider to spider and are the easiest way to identify the “breed.”

Take a photo. So as to limit your contact with the as-yet unidentified spider, try to snap a photo of it so that you can study it more closely without screaming. This also limits your exposure and the surprise of a jumping spider or venomous and unexpected nibble.

Limit your search for information to your region of the country. Different kinds of spiders live in different areas of the country, so performing a search based on where you live, or, in the case of a spider travelling along with a package from another region, where that package came from.

Get a spider chart. If you live in a part of the U.S. that has lots of spideys, having a handy photographic guide for a home may help you to identify quickly the type of spider you have. Available both online and sometimes from your local health department or garden centre, having a chart at your fingertips can calm fears after a spider bite.

Buy a book on insects. The National Audubon Society offers great information available via your local library or for purchase at any bookstore. Knowledge is power, and most books of this type include information on how to deal with venomous bites.

Talk to your doctor, garden shop or museum. Got a real unusual bug you can’t find a picture of? Box it up--carefully--and bring it down to your local garden shop or even museum for identification. People love to share their expertise, and you may have an unusual visitor in your attic that requires a special ID. If you have been bitten by this spider, and have a reaction, see your doctor or take the spider to the emergency room to deal with potential complications from the venom.

Things You'll Need

  • Spider identification chart
  • Camera
  • Local garden shop
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