Spiders

Spiders belong to the class Arachnida, which contains organisms with four pairs of legs, no antennae and two body regions.

A shield-like carapace covers the head and the area from which the legs arise. Their mouthparts, or chelicerae, function vertically.

Crab spiders - Crab spiders are so named because they hold their legs to the side in a crab-like fashion. They commonly are 5 mm to 10 mm long.

These spiders do not spin webs, but wait in ambush on flowers and foliage for their insect prey. Crab spiders such as Misumenoides spp. are often extremely well-camouflaged, blending in perfectly with the flowers they live among.

Golden silk spider, Nephila clavipes - The golden silk spider is found throughout Florida and the southeastern United States.

The female is distinctively colored, and is among the largest orb-weaving spiders in the country. The female is 25 mm to 40 mm long and has conspicuous hair tufts on her long legs. Males are about 4 mm to 6 mm long, dark-brown, and are often found in the webs of females. These spiders feed primarily on flying insects, which they catch in webs that may be greater than a meter in diameter. They are most commonly found in forests, along trails and at clearing edges.

Spiny orb-weaver, Gasteracantha cancriformis - The spiny orb-weaver spider is one of the most colorful and easily recognized spiders in Florida.

The dorsum of the abdomen is usually white with black spots and large red spines on the margin. Females are 5 mm to 10 mm long and 10 mm to 14 mm wide. The webs typically contain tufts of silk, which may prevent birds from flying into them.

Wolf spiders - Wolf spiders belong to the family Lycosidae. They are very common and usually found on the ground, where they are well-camouflaged.

The Carolina wolf spider (Lycosa carolinensis), at 25 mm to 35 mm, is the largest in the United States. These spiders do not spin webs but some dig burrows or hide under debris. Like other hunting spiders, they have good eyesight and are sensitive to vibrations.

Long-jawed orb-weavers, genus Tetragnatha - These spiders characteristically cling to a support with their short third pair of legs while holding their remaining, much longer, legs extended in front of and behind the body.

They spin small webs that are 8" to 12" in diameter and catch small flying insects. They are often found in association with foliage bordering water.