There are many different spiders in Alaska. You’ll find anything from common house spiders to daddy long-legs, jumping spiders, and fishing spiders, which are the largest spider species in Alaska.
And because Alaska is the coldest state in the US, many people are surprised there are any spiders in Alaska at all. They mostly appear in summer months and retreat to warmth in the winter.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the most common spider species in Alaska and some of their features.
Spiders in Alaska
Let’s start the list with some of the more common species and move to some species that you might not know about.
1. Fishing Spider (Dolomedes)
The Dolomedes, or the fishing spider, is a semi-aquatic spider that is found in many states in the United States, and also in Alaska.
It is the largest spider species that has currently been discovered in Alaska.
The fishing spider is capable of catching smaller fish and smaller spiders, but also other small creatures that happen to live near the water surface. They will feel the movement inside the water by placing their legs on the surface of water. This way, they’ll be able to find prey to feed themselves.
The fishing spider is quite a common spider species in Alaska. It is mainly found near waters, so you might be able to spot one. Despite their menacing appearance, they will usually be harmless to humans.
2. Common House Spiders (Parasteatoda tepidariorum)
Common house spiders are found all over Alaska.
These spiders will do well mostly in the summer, since they prefer to live in slightly warmer temperatures. However, they are sometimes found even in colder days of the year.
That is because they are well adapted to colder temperatures. They can sustain cold temperatures because they hide in homes. Common house spiders are found in dwellings of people where they will seek heat and corners where they can survive the colder days of the year.
You might be able to spot the presence of such a spider by finding it in its typical cobweb. Sometimes, they are also called cobweb spiders because they spend most of their time in these webs.
3. Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia)
The black-and-yellow garden spider, or the Argiope Aurantia, is one of the more common species in the United States.
It appears in almost every state across the country. It’s quite easy to distinguish it: it has a black-and-yellow appearance on its abdomen and stripes on its legs.
Most of the time, this spider will be found in its web near flowers or other plants that might grow in Alaska.
They will be outside almost all their time, which means they won’t do well when the cold winter months of Alaska starts. This species is thus more common during the summer days.
4. Cat-Faced Spider (Araneus gemmonides)
The cat-faced spider is one of the most interesting spider species found in Alaska.
If you see this spider up-close, then you might be wondering how the hell this spider species has a cat face.
Sometimes, this spider is also called the jewel spider, which is thanks to the body shape of this spider. It’s an orb-weaving spider, so you will commonly see it inside its web, waiting for its prey to get stuck inside the web.
5. Daring Jumping Spider (Phidippus audax)
Jumping spiders are common all around the US, and the daring jumping spider is the most commonly seen jumping spider species in Alaska.
This spider is known for its bravery when it comes to jumping; you might see it jump from spots to spots that aren’t the easiest jumps to make, which is where it got its name from.
The spider is all-black with three yellow spots on its abdomen. Once the spider grows up, these spots became white.
The daring jumping spider is one of the more interesting spider species seen in Alaska.
It might not expose itself to humans very often, but when they do, you might see it jumping around the place.
6. Daddy Long-Legs (Pholcidae)
Ah, yes, the all-present daddy long-legs. They’re also found in Alaska – no surprise there.
This is one of the most adaptable spider species in the world, as they can adapt to almost any situation out there.
Most of the time, these types of spiders are found in homes and cellars, where they seek refuge from the cold winter months of Alaska. Despite their thin appearance, they have the ability to survive harsh conditions, which means they’re found in Alaska year-round.
The Pholcidae spiders are a large group of spiders; more than 2000 spider species belong to this group. They’re often mistaken for the harvestman spider, although they’re a very different species altogether.
7. American Grass Spider (Agelenopsis)
The Agelenopsis is a known entity for American lawn owners.
These spiders are commonly seen in grasslands and backyards, where they will create large webs that they’ll use to hunt their prey.
These spiders are known for their quick wit and their reflexes, especially if you try and touch their web. They will react to any movement very quickly, as they want to ensure that they are able to capture their prey as quickly as possible.
8. Wolf Spiders (Lycosidae)
The wolf spider is one of the most famous hunting spiders in the world.
It’s known for its relentless hunting techniques and fast reaction times, which gives them the edge over their prey.
In Alaska, they might not be as common as in other parts of the US, but they can still be found, especially during the summer. This spider will spend most of its time hiding in logs and other hiding areas in nature.
9. Banded Garden Spider
The Banded Garden Spider (Argiope trifasciata) is found all over North America. It is known for its elegant webs and unique stance.
Banded Garden Spiders have webs that measure up to 60cm in diameter. They sit in the middle of their webs and pair their legs together so they look like they only have 4 instead of 8 legs.
They also weave patterns onto their webs which may help make them look bigger to predators and prevent birds from flying through the webs. However, this can also decrease the amount of prey they catch.
10. Flower Crab Spider
The flower crab spider (Thomisidae misumena) is a species of the large Thomisidae crab spider family.
They look a lot like most other crab spiders (with that same crab-like look). As their name suggests, they’re commonly found on flowers. They have a remarkable ability to change color between whites and yellows to match the color of the flower they’re sitting on. However, it does take a few days for their color to change.
Read More: Six Spiders that look like Crabs!
11. Furrow Spider
Furrow spiders (Larinioides cornutus) are orb weaving spiders common throughout the northern hemisphere.
They are distinctive for the bloated bulb on their back that makes them look like they’re carrying a car airbag around! This bulb is decorated with various earthy colors and patterns.
They’re also known for their unique mating patterns. The female creates a cocoon for herself. She releases pheromones to attract males who, after copulating, are often eaten by the females.
12. Ground Crab Spider
Ground Crab spiders (Xysticus Thomisidae) are a genus of crab spiders (Thomisidae family) distinctive by their browner and earthier color than most crab spiders you encounter.
The ground crab spider is a terrestrial spider (spending its time on the ground) which is likely why it’s a more earthy brown color than the flower crab spider.
13. Leaf-Curling Sac Spider
The Leaf-Curling Sac Spider is from the Clubiona genus of sac spiders. It’s identifiable by its light brown legs that appear almost transparent at times.
Its abdomen is darker than the legs, but still a brown-grey color.
It has been identified in all states of the United States, including Alaska, as well as Canada. Like all sac spiders, it is venomous, but its venom is not fatal to humans and will likely only cause localized pain.
14. Red Spotted-Ant Mimic Spider
The Red Spotted-Ant Mimic Spider (Castianeira descripta) is found throughout North America.
It gets its name because it pretends to be an an ant. It walks on six legs instead of eight, and raises its two front legs so they look like ant antennae. By mimicking ants, they can get close up to groups of ants before feasting on them.
They also have a red spot on their back which can lead people to mistake them for baby black widows.
15. Long-Jawed Orb-Weavers
While not common, several species of Long-Jawed Orb-Weaver (Pachygnatha) have been identified in Alaska. This includes the Tetragnatha versicolor, who is a spindly orange orb-weaver.
They’re more commonly found in the contiguous USA and Canada than Alaska because the cold weather can be a suppressant for all spiders. Tetragnatha versicolor is an orange color that can come across as partly transparent, particularly on the legs.
16. Rabbit Hutch Spider
The Rabbit Hutch Spider (Steatoda bipunctata) is a species of false widow spider who are venomous but not particularly harmful to humans (unlike black widows).
You can find Rabbit Hutch Spiders all over the northern hemisphere.
This spider gets its name from the fact it is frequently found near rabbit hutches or other cages. In reality, they like to make webs on any structures such as barns, eaves, etc. You can also often find them in basements.
17. Northern Yellow Sac Spider
The Northern Yellow Sac Spider is a common species of Sac Spider found throughout North America.
They are very small and can sit easily on the tip of your finger. They’re yellow but their legs are so thin that they can look transparent at times. As with all sac spiders, they are venomous. However, they’re so small and the amount of venom per bite is so little that you’ll likely only feel small localized irritation.
18. Zebra Spider
Zebra spiders (Salticus scenicus) get their name from their pattern on their bodies. Both the abdomen and legs are black-and-white striped like a zebra.
The females are larger than males (5–9 mm vs 5–6 mm for males).
They’re carnivorous animals who eat other spiders that are up to 3 times their size. They’re also known to eat many mosquitoes. They are ambush hunters, much like tarantulas.
There are many spiders in Alaska, and those 18 listed above are just a shortlist. Alaska is very cold which makes life difficult for spiders because they’re cold-blooded animals. However, Alaska still has a nice warm summer that’s suitable for spiders to live. Thus, while many species from contiguous USA don’t make their way that far north, there are just as many who brave the cold to make their way into Alaska.