5 of the Biggest Spiders in Minnesota

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: June 8, 2023
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Key Points

  • Minnesota is home to some rather large arachnids which include the dark fishing spider which is always on the move in search of its next meal.
  • The long-bodied cellar spider known for its slightly painful bite and unique markings also resides in the state.
  • Another arachnid that can be found in Minnesota is the extremely active reddish-brown ground wolf spider also known for a rather painful bite.

Minnesota is known for being the land of 10,000 lakes, vast rural areas, and being home to the start of the Mississippi River. With all these vast expanses of open land, you’re bound to see some interesting animals along the way, like moose and bears.

While those can be frightening to encounter in the wild, large spiders can be a fearsome thing to find in and around your home.

In this article, we’re looking at five of the biggest spiders in Minnesota to show you why you don’t need to truly fear the largest spiders.  Here’s a preview of our subject:

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What Are the Biggest Spiders in Minnesota?

What Do Jumping Spiders Eat?
Captive jumping spiders can be fed flies, grasshoppers, or mealworms.


The biggest spiders in Minnesota range in total body length, counting their leg span, from about 2 inches to 4.5 inches. This area of the country doesn’t see pantropical huntsman spiders or other tropical spiders because they can’t survive the bitter Minnesota winters.

Nevertheless, we’ll show you the biggest spiders in this state and tell you where they live, what they look like, and what happens if one of them bites you. You’ll see that the big ones aren’t the spiders you need to worry about.

5. Long-Bodied Cellar Spider

Female Cellar Spider Protecting Her Eggs
Cellar spiders can move their web in circles to make it harder to see them.


Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Pholcus phalangioides1-2 inchesA bite may cause a mild burning sensation.

The long-bodied cellar spider is often found in homes and outbuildings. It loves the dark recesses found in basements, garages, sheds, and other places where it won’t be disturbed. This spider is often brown, tan, or grayish brown and has a somewhat translucent body.

Cellar spiders also have a dark marking on their carapace that some say resembles a skull. That factor, combined with their exceptionally long legs, has led to people calling them the skull spider or the daddy’s long legs. The latter term is also applied to the huntsman.

Yet, neither of these arachnids is harmful to humans. In the rare case that a cellar spider bites someone, it only causes mild pain and burning at the location if the person feels anything at all.

4. Striped Fishing Spider

Striped Fishing Spider
The striped fishing spider has a very obvious identifying mark.

©Oleg Nikonov/Shutterstock.com

Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Dolomedes scriptus1- 2.4 inchesA bite can cause pain and swelling, much like a bee or wasp sting or bite.

The striped fishing spider lives near water and is a common sight on docks and boats. It can run across the water and even dive below the surface for up to 30 minutes. They are wandering opportunists, meaning they hunt their prey by finding and chasing it.

Oftentimes, they eat small fish, tadpoles, and other aquatic insects and invertebrates. These spiders tend to be large and brown, with a light brown stripe running down the middle of their body and a tan or cream-colored stripe running down both sides of their carapace and abdomen. They also have a W-shaped pattern on their abdomens.

Most of the time, they’ll flee at the sight of a human. However, if you handle one and it bites, you’ll probably feel some very mild pain and see some swelling.

3. Black and Yellow Garden Spider

Garden Spider spinning a web around a spotted lanternfly
The black and yellow garden spider is known for its beautiful and unique web.


Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Argiope aurantia0.5-3 inchesRarely bites humans, but it may cause pain and swelling.

The black and yellow garden spider goes by a variety of names, including the writing spider. That name stems from the unique web that they spin. Their webs are several feet across and have an extra-thick portion running through them in a zig-zag pattern. This looks like bad handwriting, so the spider got that unique name.

These spiders will often live outdoors near open areas where they are protected. When they are near human settlements, they will build their webs on the higher points of homes and other buildings.

As their scientific name suggests, black and yellow garden spiders have silver faces. As their common name suggests, they have a patterned black and yellow abdomen with some silver or gray mixed into them. Their legs are brown on the femur and banded with black on the tibia.

They rarely bite, but they can cause pain and swell in the affected area.

2. Ground Wolf Spider

ground wolf spider
The ground wolf spider easily hunts prey.

©Lukas Jonaitis/Shutterstock.com

Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Trochosa terricola2-3 inchesDelivers a mildly painful bite that leaves a bump.

The ground wolf spider is one of the biggest spiders in Minnesota, but it’s not quite the largest. This spider has a reddish brown and dark brown mottled abdomen along with two light-brown lines running down its carapace starting between the eyes oriented highest on their heads. The ground wolf spider is a hunting spider, so it chases its prey.

The fact that they travel so much can bring them into contact with people. Oftentimes, they’ll hide in dark areas in homes, like basements, and hunt other insects that get in the home. When they’re outdoors, they can be found in forests and fields, often waiting under the cover of vegetation or rocks to get their prey.

A bite from a wolf spider is usually painful and leaves a bump around the bite. However, some people are allergic to their venom and experience additional complications. That is a rarity, though.  

1. Dark Fishing Spider

dark fishing spider
Dark fishing spiders can be found near water or a moderate distance away from it.


Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Dolomedes tenebrosus3.5-4.5 inchesCan bite humans and cause a reaction similar to a bee sting.

The dark fishing spider is the biggest spider in Minnesota. This spider can grow up to 4.5 inches in its leg span, and they move quickly like other hunting spiders. That combination of size and speed scares people, but these spiders aren’t likely to hurt you. They can deliver a bite that is similar to a bee sting.

Yet, bites from this spider are very rare because it stays on the move in search of a meal. The dark fishing spider is found near water, but it also ranges farther than other members of its family. It can be seen on trees and wandering along the ground a fair distance away from the water.

The dark fishing spider has a mottled black and brown body with black patterns on its legs and W-shaped markings on its abdomen. The chances are good that you’ll see one of these spiders from afar but it probably won’t let you get close.

Now that you know about all the biggest spiders in Minnesota, let’s look at the ones that can hurt people. In this case, you only need to watch out for the black widow since it’s the most dangerous native spider in the area. A rare brown recluse may make its way into the state.

Give these spiders a respectful distance and see a doctor if you are bitten by one of them. Make sure you know what spider you’re about to handle before you try to pick it up!

What is the Lifespan of a Spider?

Spiders are fascinating creatures that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They are known for their ability to spin webs and capture prey, but one question that often comes up is how long they live.

The lifespan of a spider can vary greatly depending on the species, but the average lifespan of a spider is 1-2 years. Some species, such as the tarantula, can live for up to 20 years, while others, such as the black widow spider, may only live for 1-2 years.

The lifespan of a spider is also influenced by various factors, including the availability of food, the presence of predators, and environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. Spiders that live in areas with a stable food source and minimal predation pressure often live longer than those in areas where food is scarce or where they are frequently preyed upon.

In addition, female spiders are often known to live longer than males, as they have to take care of their eggs and young, and need to survive long enough to see their offspring reach maturity.

In conclusion, the lifespan of a spider can vary greatly depending on the species and the conditions it faces, but the average lifespan is typically 1-2 years, with some species living up to 20 years.

Summary of “5 of the Biggest Spiders in Minnesota”

Common NameScientific NameSize in InchesDanger to Humans
Dark Fishing SpiderDolomedes tenebrosus3.5-4.5Reaction to bite is similar to a bee sting.
Ground Wolf SpiderTrochosa terricola2-3Mildly painful bite that leaves a bump.
Black and Yellow Garden SpiderArgiope aurantia0.5-3Rare bite may cause pain and swelling.
Striped Fishing SpiderDolomedes scriptus1-2.4Bite can cause pain and swelling.
Long-Bodied Cellar SpiderPholcus phalangioides1-2Bite can cause mild burning sensation.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/JasonOndreicka

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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  1. Web MD, Available here: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-you-need-to-know-about-a-wolf-spider-bite#:~:text=%E2%80%8CWolf%20spiders%20don't%20pose,it%20shouldn't%20last%20long
  2. University of Wisconsin, Available here: https://uwm.edu/field-station/striped-fishing-spider/
  3. National Wildlife Federation, Available here: https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Yellow-Garden-Spider
  4. NC Extension, Available here: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/black-and-yellow-garden-spider