10 Common Spiders in Kentucky (Pictures)

Kentucky is home to many species of spider, only three of which are venomous. Even the venomous keep to themselves and only pose a threat when provoked or surprised. Spiders can seem a little creepy, but they are crucial in controlling the insect population in Kentucky. This article highlights some of the most common spiders in the state.

10 Common spiders in Kentucky

1. Southern and Northern Black Widow

Northern Black Widow Spider
Northern Black Widow | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Latrodectus mactans & Latrodectus variolus

Kentucky is home to two different species of black widow spiders. Both species’ shiny, black females often kill and eat the males after mating. This habit is how these spiders earned their name, “widow.”

Southern black widows are also known for the orange or red hourglass-shaped marking on the underside of their abdomen. Northern black widows have the same red markings on the bottom of the abdomen, but instead of being connected, the two parts of the hourglass are separated.

The males of both species lack this marking, but they still have red or white markings on the tops of their abdomens. In Kentucky, you can find Southern and Northern black widows in the quiet corners of barns, sheds, and garages.

They have also been known to inhabit sewer drains and other damp, dark places. The female’s bite is venomous to humans, can be painful, and cause serious medical issues.

2. Brown Recluse

Brown Recluse
Brown Recluse | image by Mike Keeling via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific Name: Loxosceles reclusa

These dark grayish or yellowish brown spiders are another venomous spider species in Kentucky. Their bite can cause nerve and tissue damage in the most severe cases.

Luckily, brown recluses are shy and not typically aggressive. They can be found in undisturbed areas like closets and cabinets and are most active at night.

3. Yellow Garden Spider

Black and Yellow Garden Spider
Black and yellow garden spider | image by James St. John via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Argiope aurantia

This large arachnid is commonly found in sunny areas with plants and backyard gardens in Kentucky. The females can grow up to a little over an inch in length and are black with bright yellow patterns. The brown males are smaller with more muted yellow markings.

4. Bold Jumping Spider

Bold Jumping Spider on a leaf
Bold Jumping Spider on a leaf | image by glennberry via iNaturalist

Scientific Name: Phidippus audax

The bold jumping spider is a tiny arachnid most commonly found outdoors in Kentucky. The bold jumping spider is black with white markings on its abdomen and legs. Jumping spiders do not use webs to catch their prey.

Instead, as the name suggests, the bold jumping spider pounces on its prey to catch it. They can jump across distances of up to six inches and move very erratically.

5. Tan Jumping Spider

Tan Jumping Spider
Tan Jumping Spider | image by B Smith via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Platycryptus undatus

The tan jumping spider is a tiny, furry arachnid with large eyes that wrap around its head, allowing excellent peripheral vision. They typically range from tan to brown to help them camouflage in their outdoor environments. Like other jumping spiders, this species doesn’t build webs.

They use their jumping skills to catch unsuspecting prey. Though more commonly found outdoors, these spiders can wander into homes in Kentucky. They are harmless creatures and will only bite if provoked.

6. Spotted Orb Weaver

Spotted Orbweaver
Spotted Orbweaver | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Neoscona crucifera

Like all orb weavers, the spotted orb weaver builds large circular orb-shaped webs. The spotted orb weaver ranges from tan to brown and has red and white bands running down each of its eight legs.

An adult female spotted orb weaver can grow up to ¾ of an inch in length and is covered in tiny, light-colored hairs. This nocturnal spider is commonly found in wooded areas and the eaves of Kentucky’s barns and houses.

7. Orchard Orb Weaver

Orchard orb-weaver on its cobweb
Orchard orb-weaver on its cobweb | image by gailhampshire via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Leucauge venusta

This colorful orb weaver features yellow, green, silver, red, blue, and darker shades across the head and abdomen. They hang out in the center of orb-shaped webs, waiting for prey to get trapped. This species can grow up to ¼ of an inch, not including the legs.

If you see an orchard orb weaver in a web in Kentucky, chances are you are looking at a female. The males are smaller and very rarely seen unless courting a female on her web.

8. Dark Fishing Spider

Dark Fishing Spider
Dark Fishing Spider | image by Katja Schulz via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Dolomedes tenebrosus

The dark fishing spider can grow up to one inch in length with a leg span of up to three inches. They are light brown mixed with light and dark grey. This spider is most commonly found in Kentucky near the water.

Their diet consists of insects and small fish, and they prefer to hunt at night. This spider species is unique because it can walk across the water’s surface to hunt its prey.

9. Arrow-Shaped Micrathena

Arrow-shaped micrathena
Arrow-shaped micrathena | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Micrathena sagittata

The arrow-shaped micrathena is aptly named due to its arrow-shaped abdomen with an arrow-shaped marking on the top. Most spiders have round or oval abdomens, but this species has a unique triangle or arrow-shaped abdomen. The females are bright red with bright yellow markings and have pointy spines protruding from their abdomens.

The males are black and white and lack pointed spines. These spiders belong to the orb weaver family, so they build circular webs to catch their prey.

10. White Banded Crab Spider

White-banded crab spider
White-banded crab spider | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Misumenoides formosipes

The white banded crab spider slightly resembles a crab in appearance due to its broad abdomen and long legs that angle forward. They are typically light yellow or brownish yellow and can be found hanging out in flower blooms in fields and gardens in Kentucky.

This unique spider can change color over a few days to match the color of the flower it is currently living on. Instead of building webs, these spiders camouflage themselves with flower petals and wait to catch and eat an insect searching for nectar.