Pests We Treat - NJ Homeowners Guide to Spiders

Thursday, December 20th, 2018 by Bill Cowley

Spider Chart

Everything You Need to Know About Spiders in NJ

Spiders are common across New Jersey and around the world. There are approximately 40,000 different varieties of spiders worldwide. In fact, spiders can be found on every continent in the world except for Antarctica.

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Poisonous Spiders in NJ

In New Jersey there are four poisonous spiders that you need to watch out for: the brown recluse spider, wolf spider, yellow sac spider, and black widow spider.

Brown Recluse Spiders:

Brown recluse spiders (Loxosceles reclusa) are found throughout New Jersey. When you extend the legs of an adult brown recluse spider it is usually about the size of a U.S. quarter. The color of the spider will vary from tan to dark brown. The spider’s abdomen and legs have a uniform color and do not have bands, stripes, or mottling. The legs do not have spines that show and are long and thin. One way to tell the brown recluse spider apart from other spiders is a dark violin-shaped mark on its back. The mark looks like the neck of the violin pointing toward the rear of the spider. Although this mark is a reliable way to distinguish an adult brown recluse from another spider, it sometimes is less obvious in younger spiders.

When they live outside brown recluse spiders normally live in woodpiles or under rocks, logs, and debris. Although they are often found outside, they have become very adept at living indoors as well. Their ability to withstand cold allows them to spend winters in unheated basements and their ability to withstand heat allows them to spend summers in swelteringly hot attics. They do not need a constant food source, in fact, they may go many months without food or water. When the brown recluse spider does eat it is both a hunter and a scavenger. When it hunts, it hunts at night. The brown recluse does not ensnare its prey in a web.

Wolf Spider:

Another spider found in New Jersey that does not use a web to capture their prey is the wolf spider (lycosids). Instead of constructing snares to trap their prey, they move around to hunt like wolves which is why their common name is wolf spider. A few varieties of wolf spiders will not hunt like wolves but instead, hide in a burrow and ambush their prey as it crawls past them. Wolf spiders are known to enter homes as close as possible to ground level. Because of this, people usually find wolf spiders in crawlspaces, basements, and breezeways.

Wolf spiders’ size varies, but they are commonly rather large. Some of the larger varieties have even been confused with tarantulas. Wolf spiders’ color varies as well. Most have camouflage colors of brown, grey, orange, and black but some are all one color. The spiders that are one color usually have stripes or blotches. Their eight eyes are located in three rows. The front row has four small eyes, the middle row has two much larger eyes, and the back two eyes are medium-sized and off to the sides. Female wolf spiders are often larger than males and look even larger when they carry their young on their backs. Female wolf spiders carry the spiderlings for a great deal of time after they hatch. Wolf spiders are not aggressive but may bite if provoked.

Yellow Sac Spider:

Female yellow sac spiders (Cheiracanthium inclusum) are about 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch with the males being slightly smaller than the females. Both male and female spiders are a pale yellow color with dark brown jaws and a slightly darker dorsal stripe running lengthwise across the abdomen. Yellow sac spiders are found both outside and inside in New Jersey. Yellow sac spiders make “retreats” which are silken tubes or sacs in which the spiders hide during the daytime. Outdoors these retreats are often found under objects. In homes, they are often found along ceilings, in corners, and behind pictures or shelves. Because the retreats are light, they may go unnoticed on neutral colored walls.

Yellow sac spiders are active hunters (they do not catch food in a web) and are known to be very aggressive. They hunt at night and during these nighttime hunting trips, they often encounter humans and bite when they become trapped between a person’s skin and sheets. Yellow sac spiders are believed to account for more human bites than any other type of spider. The bite of the yellow sac spider can range from slightly painful to very painful depending on a person’s sensitivity. For some people, the bite of a yellow sac spider is almost as bad as the bite of a black widow.

Black Widow:

Although the black widow spider (Latrodectus) is not considered aggressive like the yellow sac spider, its venom is much stronger. When the black widow venom is injected into a human through a bite, it will produce muscle aches, nausea, and a paralysis of the diaphragm that can make breathing difficult. In most cases, this is very unpleasant but not deadly. Unfortunately, if a small child, an elderly person, or someone who is infirm receives a bite, it can lead to deadly complications.

Black widows can be identified by their dark color and hourglass-shaped mark on their abdomens. They are comb-footed spiders, and therefore have bristles on their hind legs that they use to cover their prey with silk. Unlike the other spiders mentioned, black widows do not hunt for food. Instead, they spin a web to trap their prey, which consists of flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars.

Basic Spider Facts

Physical Characteristics:

Although they are commonly confused with insects, spiders are arachnids. Unlike insects, arachnids have eight legs, and no antennae. Spider bodies are divided into two sections: the front part of the spider is called the cephalothorax and the back part of the spider is called the abdomen.

Spider Webs:

All spiders produce silk but some spiders do not spin webs. The silk is released from a spider through a hole in its abdomen called a spinneret; the average spider has four or more spinnerets. The silk that spiders produce is used for a variety of reasons including climbing, creating a web to capture food, building smooth walls in burrows, and protecting egg sacs. No spiders have wings, however some spiders can glide on the wind using long strands of silk.


All spiders are predators and almost all spiders produce venom. Spiders use their venom to help capture their prey. Spider’s venom glands are located near their chelicerae (fangs). Most spiders use their venom to paralyze their prey. Spiders in the family Uloboridae are the only ones that do not produce venom. The actual prey a spider hunts depends greatly on the size of the spider. Most spiders eat insects, however, some of the larger spiders, like tarantulas, will eat small mammals and birds in addition to insects.


After mating, the female spider produces an egg sac. The egg sac is made of the silk produced by the spider’s spinnerets. The color and size of the sacs varies depending on the variety of spider. Some spiders produce egg sacs with a small number of eggs and some spiders will produce sacs that contain up to a thousand eggs. With some varieties of spiders, the female will carry the egg sac on her spinnerets or in her jaws until the eggs hatch. In other species, the female spider will hide her egg sac under a rock or encased in a web. After an incubation time that varies from variety to variety, tiny spiderlings will hatch from the eggs. These spiderlings are tiny versions of an adult spider. Many spiderlings receive no care from their mother, while other spider varieties will allow the spiderlings to climb onto their mother's back after hatching and she will feed them. Although most spiders only live a year or so, some spiders, like tarantulas, can live up to fifteen years.

How to Get Rid of Spiders in NJ

Spiders can be found outside in piles of wood and compost, while some live in cluttered areas like attics, basements, garages, and closets, and they're known to hide in cracks and dark corners of the room. Getting rid of spiders yourself can take a lot of time and effort. The pest control experts at Cowleys Pest Services know where to look and can quickly eliminate spiders from your home. We offer pest control service plans to help make it easy and affordable!

If you have a spider problem or infestation, let the experts at Cowleys Pest Services help you. 
Not only do we have experience getting rid of spiders in Edison, Somerset, Lakewood and nearby NJ, we use spider removal and control methods that are safe and effective and we offer a risk-free guarantee! If you're not satisfied, we'll treat your home again for free or refund your last payment.

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