5 Spiders Like Tarantulas in North Carolina

In North Carolina, there are over 700 different spider species, and some of them bear a striking resemblance to tarantulas. However, despite their similar appearance, there are no true tarantulas in the state. North Carolina’s humid summers and moderately cold winters make it less than ideal for these arachnids, as they prefer warm and dry climates. However, there are several spiders closely related to tarantulas that can be found in the state, such as trapdoor spiders, purseweb spiders, and wolf spiders. While some of these spiders bite humans, none of them produce venom that is toxic to humans. So, while North Carolina may not be home to true tarantulas, it is still possible to encounter spider species that have similar characteristics and can be mistaken for tarantulas.

Spiders Like Tarantulas in North Carolina

North Carolina is home to a diverse array of spider species, including several that resemble tarantulas in appearance. While the state may not have true tarantulas, it does have spiders that share some similarities with them. In this article, we will explore five spider species in North Carolina that resemble tarantulas and learn more about their appearance, habitat, and behavior.

1. Trapdoor Spiders

Trapdoor spiders are medium-sized spiders that are closely related to tarantulas. They are known for their aggressive nature and usually live in underground burrows. While trapdoor spiders share some physical characteristics with tarantulas, such as hairiness, they tend to have sparser and thinner hairs. One common species of trapdoor spider found in North Carolina is the Southern Trapdoor Spider. These spiders are usually brown or black in color and have long, shiny legs. Female Southern Trapdoor Spiders can reach a body length of up to 2 inches, with a leg span of up to 3 inches.

2. Spruce-Fir Moss Spiders

The Spruce-Fir Moss Spider is an elusive spider species that is native to the highest peaks of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. Measuring only 1/8 of an inch in size, this spider is often referred to as the smallest tarantula-like spider. It lives beneath moss, which makes it difficult to spot. Unfortunately, the habitat of the Spruce-Fir Moss Spider has been shrinking in recent years, leading to its endangered status. These spiders need moisture to survive, unlike true tarantulas that thrive in dry environments.

3. Purseweb Spiders

Purseweb spiders, also known as atypical tarantulas, are common in North Carolina. They are dark, medium-sized spiders that dig burrows and build tubelike webs along the base of trees. Like true tarantulas, purseweb spiders have massive fangs that they use to pierce through their webs and disable their prey. However, they lack the thick, noticeable hair that tarantulas have. Two species of purseweb spiders that can be found in North Carolina are the Atlantic purseweb spider and Coyle’s purseweb spider. These spiders are typically found in woodland environments.

4. Wolf Spiders

Wolf spiders are often mistaken for tarantulas, but they belong to a different family of spiders. They are part of the araneomorphae infraorder, whereas tarantulas are mygalomorphs. The Carolina Wolf Spider is the largest wolf spider in North America and the largest spider in North Carolina. With a leg span of over 4 inches, they can be quite intimidating. While they may resemble tarantulas from a distance, wolf spiders have thinner legs and are less hairy than tarantulas.

5. Folding Door Spiders

Folding door spiders are another group of spiders in North Carolina that are frequently mistaken for tarantulas. These mygalomorphs are typically found in the western United States but can also be spotted in the Appalachian Mountains. They are medium-sized spiders with brown bodies and a tuft of hair along their abdomens. Two species commonly seen in North Carolina are Antrodiaetus unicolor and Antrodiaetus microunicolor. These spiders, like tarantulas, leave their burrows in the fall to search for mates. They prefer cool and humid environments.

Similarities and Differences to Tarantulas

While these spiders in North Carolina may resemble tarantulas in some ways, there are several key differences between them. In terms of physical characteristics, tarantulas have downward-facing fangs and long, bristle-like hairs, which distinguish them from other spiders. They are also known for their large size and relative harmlessness to humans. In contrast, the spiders mentioned above have different fang orientations and may have sparser or thinner hairs compared to tarantulas.

Behaviorally, tarantulas are not known to be aggressive and generally pose no threat to humans. However, some of the false tarantulas found in North Carolina, such as trapdoor spiders, can exhibit aggressive behavior. It is important to note that while tarantulas and some tarantula-like spiders may bite humans, they do not produce venom that is toxic to humans.


While North Carolina may not have true tarantulas, it is home to several spider species that share physical similarities and characteristics with tarantulas. These include trapdoor spiders, spruce-fir moss spiders, purseweb spiders, wolf spiders, and folding door spiders. While they may resemble tarantulas from a distance, it is important to note the distinguishing features that set them apart. By understanding these differences, we can appreciate and coexist with these fascinating spiders in North Carolina’s diverse wildlife.

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The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be considered as professional advice or a substitute for professional expertise. The author and Wildlife Informer are not liable for any damages or losses resulting from the use or misuse of this information. Always consult with a qualified expert for advice and assistance.

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