What Kind Of Spider Has A Yellow Back?

What Kind of Spider Has Yellow & Red on It?

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With over 37,000 different species, spiders are some of the most prevalent insects on earth. Many of these species blend in seamlessly with the environment. The majority of spiders are black, brown, gray or some combination of neutral colors. However, a few distinct species stand out from the neutral crowd. These colorful arachnids can be orb-weaving or color-changing, and are adorned with varying hues of yellow and red.

Red Widow

The red widow (Latrodectus bishopi) has a reddish-orange head and body, and an abdomen adorned with red spots surrounded by yellow rings. Red widows are found primarily in Florida, preferring to spin their webs in palmetto scrubs, rosemary bushes, scrub oak and other lower shrubs around 3 to 10 feet above the ground. This spider is highly venomous. A female red widow can inflict neurotoxin capable of inducing sustained, maybe even permanent, muscle spasms in humans; males and juveniles, on the other hand, do not bite.

Goldenrod Crab Spider

Goldenrod crab spiders (Misumena vatia) are predominately yellow spiders with two red streaks on their abdomens. A goldenrod’s diet and environment can affect its overall body color, which ranges from white and pale green to butter yellow and bright yellow. These spiders always live near flowers, herbs and shrubs, where they feed on varying types of pollinators, like bees, flies and butterflies. They have the ability to change colors and camouflage themselves among flowers while they wait for prey. A goldenrod crab spider’s bite is not harmful to humans.

Orb Weavers

Unlike most other spiders, orb weavers spin very precise webs that resemble circular grids. They also have a couple more eyes than many other arachnid species; orb weavers possess 8 individual eyes. Some species in this group, like the arrowhead spider (Verrucosa arenata), marbled spider (Araneus marmoreus), and black and yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) have bodies dotted and swathed in reds and yellows.

Woodlouse Spider

The woodlouse spider (Dysdera crocata) is found throughout North America, England, northern Europe and Australia, where its main diet consists of pill bugs and sow bugs. These spiders have reddish-orange bodies and legs, with grey, creamy white or dingy yellow abdomens. A woodlouse spider bite, though painful and itchy, is not acutely dangerous to humans.

References (5)

  • Bug Guide: Species Latrodectus bishopi – Red Widow
  • Fairfax County Public Schools: Goldenrod Spider
  • University of Kentucky Entomology: Orb-Weaver Spiders
  • Animal Diversity Web: Argiope aurantia
  • Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences: Spider: The Woodlouse Hunter

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images


Christina Stephens is a writer from Portland, Ore. whose main areas of focus are pets and animals, travel and literature. A veterinary assistant, she taught English in South Korea and holds a BA in English with cum laude honors from Portland State University.


Urban Spider Chart


by Blake Newton and Lee Townsend, Extension Entomology
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

The majority of Kentucky’s spiders are harmless to humans, even when they enter our living environments. This chart is designed to help with quick identification of spiders that are commonly encountered in homes, buildings, yards, and other urban environments. Click on the spider to read more about it.

Spiders of Medical Significance
Other Common Kentucky Spiders

Black Widow

Size: Adult female is about 1/2 inch long.
Color: Adult females are glossy black with a variable number of red markings on the top and bottom of abdomen. Adults males are similar, but with a few white markings. Juveniles are highly variable.
Features: Abdomen is nearly spherical on adult females and juveniles. Male is slimmer with longer legs (pictured here).
Notes: Bites are very serious and require immediate medical attention, but the spider is timid and unlikely to bite unless handled. Black widows are common all over Kentucky. They tend to occur in concealed outdoor locations: piles of rocks, piles of firewood, and dark corners of garages and out-buildings. Females are common; males are very rarely encountered.

Brown Recluse

Size: About the size of a U.S. quarter, with legs outstretched.
Color: Tan to dark brown, abdomen and legs are uniformly colored with no stripes, bands, or mottling. The legs are long and thin and lack conspicuous spines.
Features: Dark violin-shaped mark on back, with the neck of the violin pointing toward the rear (abdomen) of the spider. This feature is consistent in adult brown recluses, but can be hard to see and is less obvious in younger spiders. Also, brown recluses only have six eyes: most Kentucky spiders have eight.
Notes: Bites are very serious and require immediate medical attention, but brown recluses are timid and unlikely to bite unless handled. These spiders are more common in Western KY, less common in Central and Southeastern KY. They tend to occur in hidden locations indoors and outdoors: piles of cardboard or paper, stacks of cut wood, and wall-voids of buildings.

Grass Spider

Size: About the size of a U.S. quarter, with legs outstretched.
Color: Brown with prominent longitudinal gray or tan stripes.
Features: Prominent hind spinnerets: these are two, small, finger-like projections on the end of the grass spider’s abdomen (used to spin the web). Many other spiders have spinnerets, but they are very large and distinctive in grass spiders.
Notes: Grass spiders are very common in Kentucky lawns where they build large, funnel-shaped webs. They also occasionally wander into homes. Because they are brown and of a similar size, grass spiders are often mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, though, the bites of grass spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals.

Wolf Spiders

Size: Wolf spiders range in size from tiny (the size of a pencil eraser) to about the size of a U.S. silver dollar, with legs outstretched
Color: There are many species of wolf spiders in Kentucky, but most are dark or light brown, usually with contrasting spots or stripes.
Features: Wolf spiders are fast-moving and they are typically seen running on the ground. They are not web builders.
Notes: Wolf spiders often wander into homes. Because they are brown in color, wolf spiders are often mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of wolf spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals. Wolf spiders are among the most common kinds of spiders in Kentucky.

See also:  What Is A Daddy Long Leg Spider?

Fishing Spider

Size: A little larger than a U.S. silver dollar, with legs outstretched.
Color: Brown with contrasting, darker brown patterns.
Features: Very large brown spiders; sometimes seen running on the ground or sitting motionless on tree trunks.
Notes: Fishing spiders are common near streams and wooded areas in Kentucky, and they sometimes wander into nearby homes. They are among the largest spiders in our state, but they are not considered dangerous. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of fishing spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals. They are sometimes mistaken for brown recluse spiders, but adult brown recluses are smaller and lack the fishing spider’s distinct dark brown patterning.

American House Spider

Size: About the size of a U.S. nickel, with legs outstretched.
Color: Brown and tan highlighted with dark brown patterns
Features: Spherical abdomen; almost always encountered in its compact, messy cobweb
Notes: The American House Spider is one of the most commonly encountered spiders in Kentucky and is found in many homes and buildings. Because it is brown in color, American house spiders are often mistaken for brown recluses. Unlike brown recluses, though, house spiders are almost never found outside of their webs. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of house spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals. The American House Spider is a type of cobweb spider.

Cellar Spider

Size: About the size of a U.S. half-dollar, with legs outstretched.
Color: Light tan or gray with darker contrasting markings.
Features: Small, thin body with long, thin legs; almost always encountered in its messy cobweb.
Notes: Cellar spiders are among the most commonly encountered spiders in Kentucky and they are found in many homes and buildings. Because it is brownish in color, cellar spiders are often mistaken for brown recluses, but cellar spiders have much longer and thinner legs than brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of cellar spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals. Cellar spiders are sometimes called «daddy-long-legs» or «granddaddy-long-legs,» but they are not closely related to harvestmen (which are not true spiders), which are also known as daddy-long-legs.

Yellow Sac Spider

Size: About the size of a U.S. nickel, with legs outstretched.
Color: Tan legs and head, yellow abdomen
Features: Low, flat spider; does not build a web
Notes: The yellow sac spider is commonly found in homes and it is often mistaken for the brown recluse because it is similar in shape, but the yellow sac spider lacks the «fiddle» pattern of the brown recluse. Also, the sac spider has eight eyes instead of six. The bite of a yellow sac spider can be painful, but it is not medically significant except to allergic individuals.

Orb Weavers

Size: Orb weavers range in size from tiny (the size of a pencil eraser) to a little larger than a U.S. silver dollar, with legs outstretched.
Color: There are many species of orb-weaver spiders in Kentucky. Some are solid tan or brown, while others are colorful with vivid patterns.
Features: Orb weavers are distinguished by their webs: no other common Kentucky spiders make organized, circular, grid-like webs. Orb weavers are almost always encountered inside their webs.
Notes: Orb weavers are commonly found on porches and gardens in Kentucky, especially in late summer. Occasionally, they will wander into a home and build a web in a doorway or windowsill. Some orb weavers are very large, but, like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of orb weavers are harmless except to allergic individuals. The Yellow-and-black Argiope (pictured below, top left), one of the largest spiders in Kentucky, is a type of orb weaver.

Jumping Spiders

Size: Typical jumping spiders are about the size of a U.S. dime, with legs outstretched.
Color: There are many species of jumping spiders in Kentucky. Many are gray or black, while some are vividly colored.
Features: Jumping spiders have distinctive, large eyes and a «flat faced» look. They are characterized by quick, herky-jerky motions and they do not build webs.
Notes: Jumping spiders are common on the outsides of homes and buildings and they often wander into homes. Because some are brown in color, jumping spiders are sometimes mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, though, the bites of jumping spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals.

Woodlouse Hunter

Size: About the size of a U.S. nickel, with legs outstretched.
Color: Dark, reddish-brown head, gray abdomen, orange legs.
Features: Woodlouse hunters are distinguished by their very large fangs and low, flat shape. They are not web-builders.
Notes: Woodlouse hunters are often found outdoors under rocks and logs near buildings where they hunt for woodlice (a.k.a. roly-polies or pillbugs) and they sometimes wander into homes. Because these spiders are brownish in color and similar in size, they are occasionally mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders though, the bites of woodlouse hunters are harmless except to allergic individuals, despite their large fangs.

Crab Spiders

Size:Typical crab spiders are about the size of a U.S. nickel, with legs outstretched.
Color: There are many species of crab spiders in Kentucky. Some are brown or tan, but most common species are bright white or vivid «neon» green or yellow.
Features: Crab spiders are low and flat and their front two pairs of legs are very long. Crab spiders are not web builders.
Notes: Crab spiders are very common in Kentucky flowers (where they hunt for bees), but they sometimes wander into homes. Because some crab spiders are brown in color, they are occasionally mistaken for brown recluses. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of crab spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals.

Purseweb Spiders

Size:Purseweb spiders are about the size of a U.S. half-dollar, with legs outstretched.
Color: Shiny black; some have white marks behind the fangs.
Features: Purseweb spiders are large spiders with low, flat bodies.
Notes: Purseweb spiders are common in Kentucky forests. Their webs are hidden, so they are rarely seen. Males, however, are sometimes found wandering on roads and sidewalks in the spring. These spiders are almost never found in homes. Because of their shiny, black color, they are occasionally mistaken for black widows. Purseweb spiders are larger than black widows, though, and lack red markings. Like most Kentucky spiders, the bites of purseweb spiders are harmless except to allergic individuals.

CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations in this publication are registered for use in Kentucky, USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication.

See also:  What Does A Spider Web Look Like?


Dr. Subba Reddy Palli
Department Chair & State Entomologist
S-225 Agricultural Science Center North
Lexington, KY 40546-0091
[email protected]

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Garden spider: A welcome friend or a scary foe?

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A fully grown garden spider can be an intimidating sight. Often spotted in the landscape when they reach maturity in late summer, these big, black and yellow spiders and their large, circular webs are hard to miss. They almost seem to appear overnight. But, despite their intimidating appearance, garden spiders are good guys who deserve a home in your garden.

What does a garden spider look like?

Also called the yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia), this species is actually quite beautiful, if you care to look close enough. The large females have a distinctive black and yellow abdomen, and 8 black legs that are graced with red or yellow markings. The leg span of fully grown females can be up to three inches long from front to back. The male garden spider isn’t quite as fancy or as large. He’s brown and drab and only about quarter of the size of the female.

Female garden spiders grow quite large. Their black and yellow abdomens make them a real stand-out in the garden.

A female garden spider spins a unique web, too. Her large, distinctive web is built in mid summer, when she’s hoping to secure a mate and trap enough food to support her egg-laying efforts. Each female garden spider builds a two- to three-foot-wide, circular web centered with a prominent zig-zag line of silk called a stabilimentum. I often find the females’ webs stretched between the tomato stakes in my vegetable garden. The female spider is almost always waiting for prey at the center of the web, near the stabilimentum.

Males build webs, too, though theirs are far smaller. Often located near, or even within, the female’s web, the male’s web is denser and not nearly as “fancy.” Many times there are several male webs found near each female web, which can lead to some interesting mating behavior (more on that later!).

Is the garden spider native to North America?

Garden spiders are indeed native to North America. They’re found in each of the 48 contiguous states and even in Hawaii. Their range also extends southward into Central America and northward into the southern regions of Canada.

Gardens are great homes for the garden spider. Females prefer to position their web in a protected site that is sheltered from heavy winds. Each night, the female garden spider eats the central strands of her web and rebuilds it with fresh strands of silk just before dawn.

Each evening, the female garden spider eats the webbing at the center of the web. She then spins a new central web hub just before dawn.

Garden spider “love”

Male garden spiders visit females to breed in mid to late summer. In an interesting courtship ritual, the male garden spider plucks the strings of the female’s web gently and in a very specific way, to make her aware of his presence. Then he slowly approaches and hopes he doesn’t get attacked in the process. It’s been noted that males will sometimes attempt to breed with female garden spiders while they’re in their final molt because during molts, the females are immobile and there’s no risk of attack (smart guys!).

During mating, the male garden spider leaves his palps (the place where he stores his sperm) behind as “plugs” to prevent other males from mating with the same female garden spider. Then, as soon as mating ends, the male spontaneously dies, often while he’s still attached to the female. Occasionally the female spider will consume the male’s body after mating.

Soon after mating, the female spider creates one to five papery, brown egg cases, each filled with a thousand or more eggs. The egg cases are positioned on the web, typically near the center. The female garden spider protects her egg cases until her death, around the time of the first frost.

Come spring, the eggs hatch and dust-like spiderlings emerge to find a new home in the garden. They’re often carried around the landscape on the wind.

This garden spider is feeding on a small moth it has captured and wrapped in silk at the center of its web. Garden spiders consume many common garden pests, along with any other insects they can catch.

Do garden spiders bite?

Both male and female garden spiders are docile and nonaggressive. However, they can bite if threatened, trapped, or stepped on. Their bite is said to feel much like a bee sting and causes redness and swelling at the bite site. Like all spiders, yellow garden spiders are not “out to get you,” nor will they purposefully attack or harm humans. Let them do their work in the garden and try your best not to disturb them.

Of the 3000 or so species of spiders found in North America, only four are considered harmful to humans. They are: the black widow, the brown recluse, the hobo spider (found in the arid climate of western states), and the yellow sac, which is thought to be the most common source of nuisance bites across the continent.

Is a garden spider a good bug or a bad one?

Like thousands of other spider species found in our yards and gardens, the garden spider is considered to be very beneficial. It consumes lots of common landscape pests, as well as bees, moths, beetles, wasps, and just about any other flying insect that gets trapped in its web.

This jumping spider (a type of cursorial or hunting spider) is feasting on a bagworm caterpillar.

Other types of garden spiders

There are, of course, many other species of spiders worth appreciating in your garden. They’re extremely valuable predators who help manage pests in some surprising ways. While the yellow garden spider and other orb weavers trap their prey in webs, many species of spiders don’t spin webs at all. Instead, they crawl around and hunt for their prey. These spiders are known as cursorial, or hunting, spiders.

This little crab spider will spend most of her life inside of this flower, waiting to ambush her prey. Crab spiders are a type of hunting or cursorial spider that do not spin webs.

Cursorial spiders, such as jumping spiders, wolf spiders, and crab spiders, are especially important to gardeners because they move around the garden to find their prey. Numerous studies have shown that spiders consume a massive amount of garden pests, including aphids, mites, asparagus beetles, squash bugs, budworms, caterpillars, and many more. Much of this predation takes place at night, when the watchful eye of the gardener is sound asleep.

See also:  How Do You Know If Its A Spider Bite?

If you want to learn more about the importance of spiders and other beneficial insects, I recommend the following books: Insects and Gardens, Bringing Nature Home, Good Bug Bad Bug, and Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control.

Wolf spiders don’t spin webs. Instead, they capture prey by hunting it. They do a great amount of pest control in gardens both on the ground and up in plant foliage.

No matter which types of spiders live in your garden, give them some love. They play a major role in keeping the ecosystem of the garden healthy and balanced. Let them do their work as you go about yours and you’ll both reap the benefits.

To learn more about both the good and bad critters that live in your garden, check out the following posts:

Have you ever had a garden spider make a home in your landscape? What did you think when you discovered it? Share your stories with us in the comment section below.

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5 Responses to Garden spider: A welcome friend or a scary foe?

We found an incredible huge female in my hosta plant yesterday. She is over 2 inches long. Bright markings. She has several bundles wrapped in her web. I guess we’ll have to givevher a name.

I had a very large Garden Spider I call Charlotte build a web in my office window. She made 1 fairly large egg sac at the top of the window. I have been watching her for the last 3 weeks or so. We have a pipe that comes out of our house with warm air when the furnace clicks on. She laid her eggs in the sac and moved over toward the warm pipe. We had an unexpected snow last night and it got very cold. I can’t really tell but I don’t think she is with us anymore. I know it’s nature but it made me very sad. My grandchildren have been watching her as well.

I have had a black and yellow garden spider on my awning of my front door now for months i dont use the front door unless we get packages so she is mostly not bothered except for occasional package delivery and then its a funny site to see the grown men come to the door see her and freak out I get a laugh every time. she seems to have two sacks and they are not actually attached to her web they to are attached to the roof awning she had a huge web when she first came months ago but has shortened it recently for what ever reason and is now on awning by her baby sacs it has gotten cold here in VA at night like 30 degrees but shes still hanging in there no pun intended. but i like watching her and she can stay as long as she likes.

Every year I have at least 1 yellow and black garden spider. I request for people who spot then and wouldn’t mind parting ways with their spider to let me relocate them to my place where I can watch them thrive all fall. I have incredible respect for these creatures. My daughter and I will say hi every day and feed the spider when necessary. We (dare I say) love these spiders. We’ll often bring her inside in a jar for night if the first frost is immanent and I can tell she has more eggs to lay. Then we place her back in her web when chances of frost have subsided for the next few days so she can lay her egg sac. When she dies, we have a sort of funeral and bury her in the garden soil, so her body goes one step further in its garden benefits, by physically providing nutrients to the soil and next year’s plants. My wife thinks I’m crazy, but I still cry when that time comes. I have woke up early in the morning on days where I thought she might lay eggs just to watch the process take place overnight. These spiders are perhaps the most underrated mothers in the animal kingdom. They spend their whole mature life creating and protecting the lives of thousands of their own unborn children, whom they will never get to meet. I’ve seen the desire for continuance of life rapidly disappear from one garden spider after a wind storm took her only egg sac (this was well before first frost). These creatures have the God-given instructions written into their DNA to create unmatched beauty each and every time they spin a new web. Their delicate, yet powerful physique can handle battles with grasshoppers, praying mantises, cicadas, and I’ve even heard of small bats, snakes, or frogs. Extremely non-agressive towards humans, these spiders are the perfect garden companion as they build in the same spot every day, so you know you can rely on seeing them. If you ever get the chance to watch the entire mating ritual, it is an incredible sight to behold. I have watched the male slowly approach, over two days time, then strum her web like a harp while courting, mate, and then be literally devoured by the female like she was eating a burger and long french fries (Yes they have mouths to eat as well as fangs). If something gets in the web that is too big or the spider is just not hungry, she’ll shake the web vigorously until it falls out. This past fall, we had Sammy. She was amazing. She even came out trick-or treating with my wife, me, and my two-year-old daughter (Sammy stayed on my shirt sleeve pretty much the whole time). When it was all said and done, Sammy gave us 5 egg sacs to continue her bloodline and the spiritual journey of my garden’s never-ending ecosystem. My daughter and I miss Sammy, but we look up at her egg sacs every day and say hi, as we remember we will see those babies in spring. Again, these spiders are truly amazing, and deserve the utmost respect as the queen guardians of our plants.

Love this! Thanks for sharing.

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