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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

UNL Extension in Lancaster County

Insects, Spiders, Mice and More

Helping Nebraskans enhance their lives through research-based education.

Curious About Spiders?

compiled by Soni Cochran, Extension Associate

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Here are just a handful of the spiders you'll find in Nebraska. These spiders are routinely brought into the extension office by local residents.

Woodlouse hunter: Dysdera crocata

Woodlouse Hunter

This cosmopolitan, medium-sized spider has three pair of legs directed forward and one pair back. It has 6 eyes, closely grouped together. People are often concerned about this spider because it has two enormous, sinister-looking fangs. Its long jaws are used to hunt woodlice, members of the terrestrial crustacean order Isoptera which includes pillbugs and sowbugs.

The woodlouse hunter has distinctive coloration: the cephalothorax (head + thorax) of the woodlouse hunter is brown, legs are reddish-orange, and abdomen is pinkish-tan. The spiders rest during the day under stones, bark or other objects in a silken cell in which the female spider lays her eggs. It is an activea> hunting spider, feeding at night. It is often found around buildings. It is considered an accidental invader in the home.


Wolf Spider  Photo by UNL Department of Entomology

The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office


Contact Information

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A,
Lincoln, NE 68528
| 402-441-7180

Wolf Spiders

Wolf Spider with Egg Case
Wolf spiders are the largest spiders found in Nebraska. Their bodies are covered with short hairs in shades of brown, black, gray, white, yellow, or green. They do not make webs or web snares, but instead hunt for prey. Female wolf spiders often have bodies up to 1 1/2 inches long. Some of these spiders shelter under leaves or debris while others construct retreats in shallow tunnels or dig deep burrows.

Egg sacs of most wolf spiders are shaped like a ball (globular) and are carried by the female attached to her spinnerets. When the spiderlings (baby spiders) hatch, they climb onto their mother's back and ride there for several days before leaving.

Wolf spiders often alarm homeowners because they are large and move very quickly. We see most of these spiders in the fall when concerned homeowners find them in their garages or in and around the house. Wolf spiders are not "house spiders" and will likely die in the home. They are considered accidental invaders. These beneficial spiders can be removed and placed back outdoors where they belong.

As with any spider, do not pick them up with your bare hands. Place a cup over the spider, then gently slide a piece of paper or cardboard under the cup. You can then carry the cup with the spider outdoors and release it away from the home.


Garden Spiders

Garden Spider

These spiders, sometimes called "argiopes", are the largest web-spinning spiders in Nebraska. Full-grown females of the common Nebraska species exceed one inch in body length; males are usually much smaller. These spiders make beautiful, large "orb" webs in gardens and between tall grasses and weeds.

One common type of this spider, the black and yellow garden spider, has silver hairs on the back of its forward body section. The large abdomen (back section) is marked in black and bright yellow. Their egg sacs are spherical (narrow at one end) and up to one inch long. The egg sacs are covered with a tough, paper-like silk.

Another common species, the banded garden spider, is like the black and yellow garden spider. It has lives in the same locations, builds the same type of web, and is a large spider. But the pattern on its abdomen is different. The abdomen is marked with alternating thin, broken, horizontal silver and yellow lines on a black background.

Garden spiders attract a lot of attention because of their size, bright colors and large webs. They also build their webs in open areas near humans. Some people are uncomfortable working around such large spiders, but many gardeners welcome these attractive insect-eaters.

For accidentally invading spiders (these are most frequent spider situations), we recommend that efforts be made to seal cracks and crevices as the most permanent solution.


For the naturalist, one particular good text is "Biology of Spiders" by R. Foelix, published by Harvard Press, 1982.

Note: Some of the information on this site was adapted from the University of Nebraska NebGuide, "Spiders". Written by David L. Keith, Stephen Danielson, Timothy Miller.