New Jersey: Home to Over 500 Spider Species

New Jersey may be known for its high population density, but did you know that it is also home to over 500 spider species? From the elusive Hacklemesh Weaver to the colorful Arrow-shaped Micrathena, these eight-legged creatures can be found in a variety of environments including homes, basements, woodlands, gardens, and parks. While some spiders like the Long-Bodied Cellar Spiders are harmless, others like the Brown Recluse and Northern Black Widow can pose potential dangers. This article describes 12 common spider species found in New Jersey, detailing their appearance, habitat, behavior, and potential risks. Whether you come across one during the day or encounter a nocturnal crawler, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers and seek medical attention if bitten by a venomous spider.

New Jersey: Home to Over 500 Spider Species


New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the United States, is not only known for its bustling cities and beautiful coastline but also for its diverse wildlife. Among the many fascinating creatures that call this state home, spiders take center stage. With over 500 species residing in the Garden State, New Jersey boasts an impressive array of spiders, each with its unique characteristics and behaviors. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the population density of New Jersey, explore the diversity of spider species found in the state, describe twelve common spiders, discuss their habitats and behaviors, and highlight the importance of seeking medical attention for venomous spider bites.

Population Density of New Jersey

New Jersey, with its limited land area of approximately 8,721 square miles, is the most densely populated state in the country. Its population density is a remarkable 1,210 people per square mile. While this high population density often paints images of urban landscapes and crowded neighborhoods, it also means that New Jersey is teeming with an abundance of wildlife, including spiders. The various habitats within the state, ranging from woodlands to residential areas, provide ideal environments for spiders to thrive and establish their presence.

Diversity of Spider Species in New Jersey

New Jersey’s diverse landscape and ecosystem contribute to the rich variety of spider species found within its borders. With over 500 species identified, the state offers an intriguing study for arachnid enthusiasts and researchers alike. These spiders vary in size, appearance, and behavior, making them a captivating subject of study.

Description of 12 Common Spiders Found in New Jersey

1. Hacklemesh Weaver

The Hacklemesh Weaver is a spider known for its peculiar web, consisting of a disorganized tangle of threads resembling a messy mesh. These spiders can often be found in meadows and grassy areas, where they weave their intricate webs to capture small insects.

2. Sylvana Jumping Spider

The Sylvana Jumping Spider, with its vibrant colors and immense jumping ability, is a fascinating sight to behold. These small, agile spiders possess excellent vision, allowing them to accurately track their prey before pouncing with lightning speed.

3. Woodlouse Hunter

True to its name, the Woodlouse Hunter specializes in hunting woodlice, which are commonly found in damp environments such as gardens and basements. With its sleek body and speed, this spider is a proficient predator, ensuring the population of woodlice remains in check.

4. Eastern Parson Spider

The Eastern Parson Spider is a striking arachnid often mistaken for a Black Widow due to its black body with white markings. However, unlike its venomous counterpart, the Eastern Parson Spider poses no threat to humans. These spiders can be found in leaf litter and wooded areas in New Jersey.

5. Arrow-shaped Micrathena

The Arrow-shaped Micrathena, named for its distinctive arrow-shaped abdomen, is a member of the orb-weaving spider family. These spiders construct intricate, circular webs in low vegetation. While their appearance may be intimidating, they pose no danger to humans.

6. Long-Bodied Cellar Spiders

Long-Bodied Cellar Spiders are commonly found in dark, damp spaces such as cellars and basements. Their delicate, elongated bodies and long, slender legs give them a distinctive appearance. Despite their eerie appearance, they are harmless to humans and play a useful role in controlling other household pests.

7. Brown Recluse

The Brown Recluse is an infamous spider known for its venomous bite. While relatively rare in New Jersey, they have been occasionally sighted. These spiders prefer to dwell in secluded areas such as attics, closets, or wood piles. If bitten by a Brown Recluse, immediate medical attention is necessary.

8. Northern Black Widow

The Northern Black Widow, although less common than in other regions, can be found in New Jersey. These spiders are recognized by their shiny black bodies and red hourglass-shaped markings. Female Black Widows possess potent venom that can cause severe symptoms in humans if bitten. Caution should be exercised around these spiders.

9. Red-Spotted Ant Mimic Spider

The Red-Spotted Ant Mimic Spider has a striking resemblance to ants, which adds to its survival advantage. By imitating ants, these spiders can avoid detection and prey upon unsuspecting insects. This species can be found in a variety of habitats, including gardens, fields, and forests.

10. Rabid Wolf Spider

The Rabid Wolf Spider is a large, aggressive spider frequently found in New Jersey. These spiders do not spin webs but instead actively hunt their prey, using their excellent eyesight and speed to capture insects. While they may appear formidable, they are generally not harmful to humans unless provoked.

11. Dimorphic Jumper Spider

Dimorphic Jumper Spiders possess a unique ability to change color according to their surroundings. These small spiders are skilled jumpers and use their agility to ambush unsuspecting prey. They are commonly found in meadows, gardens, and fields.

12. Spotted Orbweaver

The Spotted Orbweaver is a visually striking spider known for the vibrant patterns on its abdomen. These spiders construct large, circular webs to ensnare flying insects. They can be found in gardens and woodlands throughout New Jersey.

Diversity in Habitat and Behavior

The diverse range of spider species in New Jersey is not only reflected in their appearances but also in their habitats and behaviors. These spiders have adapted to various ecological niches, resulting in their ability to thrive in different environments, from bustling residential areas to undisturbed natural habitats.

Spiders in Different Environments

Spiders in New Jersey can be found in an array of environments, each with its own unique characteristics and attractions. In residential areas, spiders often find shelter in homes, garages, and gardens, where they establish their webs to capture the numerous insects that abound. In woodlands and forests, these arachnids weave their intricate webs between trees and in the undergrowth, effectively catching prey as it passes through. Parks and gardens provide an ideal mix of natural and man-made environments for spiders to flourish.

Spider Activity: Day vs. Night

Spider activity patterns vary among different species, with some being active during the day and others preferring the cover of darkness. Spiders such as the Sylvana Jumping Spider and Orbweavers are diurnal, conducting their hunting and web-building activities during daylight hours. On the other hand, nocturnal spiders like the Long-Bodied Cellar Spider and Wolf Spiders are most active at night when their prey, including insects and other small invertebrates, are also more abundant.

Venomous Spider Species in New Jersey

While the vast majority of spider species in New Jersey are harmless to humans, there are a few venomous species that require caution. It is important to be aware of these spiders’ potential dangers and the steps to take in the event of a venomous bite.

Potential Dangers and Medical Issues

Venomous spider bites can cause a range of medical issues, from mild discomfort to severe allergic reactions. The Brown Recluse and Northern Black Widow, both of which have been documented in New Jersey, possess venom that can have detrimental effects on human health. Symptoms of venomous spider bites can include pain, swelling, itching, muscle cramps, and in severe cases, systemic reactions. It is crucial to seek medical attention promptly if bitten by a venomous spider to ensure proper treatment and management.

Seeking Medical Attention for Venomous Spider Bites

If someone is bitten by a venomous spider, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Medical professionals are equipped to provide appropriate medical care and administer antivenom if necessary. It is advisable to capture the spider safely, without risking further injury, to aid in identification, and to inform healthcare professionals of the specific species involved in the bite. Remember, prompt action is essential when dealing with potential venomous spider bites.

With its impressive population density and diverse array of spider species, New Jersey offers a captivating opportunity for spider enthusiasts and researchers alike. Exploring the habitats, behaviors, and potential dangers of these arachnids adds to our understanding of the intricate ecosystems that exist within the state. Whether you encounter a harmless species weaving an intricate web or come across a venomous spider that requires caution, the marvels of New Jersey’s spider population are sure to leave a lasting impression.

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