5 of the Biggest Spiders in Virginia

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: August 27, 2022
© iStock.com/AwakenedEye
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People that enjoy beautiful beaches and historical monuments flock to Virginia for vacations throughout the year. Whether you are a visitor or considering moving to the lovely state, you’ll probably want to know about the animals that you’ll rub elbows with along the way. We’re going to explore the creepy crawly variety of creatures and tell you about the 5 biggest spiders in Virginia.

By the time we’ve finished, you’ll know precisely which spider you’re looking at if you see an arachnid the size of your hand skittering across a dock!

What Are the Biggest Spiders in Virginia?

Virginia is home to a lot of different spiders, and a few of them can grow 3 inches or larger. Our goal is to look at a handful of the largest of these creatures. We’ll tell you how big they get, where you will most likely encounter them, and whether you need to worry about a bite. In most cases, you’ll find that the bigger spiders are the ones that are least likely to harm you. With that in mind, let’s start counting down some of the biggest spiders in Virginia!

5. Southern House Spider

Southern house spider
Southern house spiders often get mistaken for brown recluses due to their similar colors and size.

©Kala Stuwe/Shutterstock.com

Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Kukulcania hibernalis0.75-2 inchesTheir bites can cause pain that diminishes over a day or two in rare cases.

The southern house spider is a brown spider with a rather long, bulbous abdomen. Most of its total length comes from long legs, especially in the case of males. Still, both males and females can reach about 2 inches across in size, and they are known for taking up residence in the small crevices inside of homes.

These spiders have a reputation for being aggressive, but the truth is that they don’t always recognize larger animals, like humans, due to their poor sight. They won’t bite humans in most cases. If you handle and bother one, they may deliver a mildly painful bite that can linger for days in rare cases.

These spiders are sometimes confused for the brown recluse. However, the southern house spider has a different body shape, and it does not have the potential to deliver dangerous bites.

4. Black and Yellow Garden Spider

writing spider spinning web
The black and yellow garden spider has a very identifiable web.

©Beekeepx/Shutterstock.com

Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Argiope aurantia0.2-3 inchesRarely bites humans, but it may cause pain and swelling.

The black and yellow garden spider goes by a few different names, including the writing spider. These creatures are known for making a large and intriguing web that measures a few feet across and has a long, thick, zigzag line running through it.

That thick line is called a stabilimentum, and it could have several potential uses, including helping birds see the web so they don’t fly through it.

The spider is easy to spot on its own right because it has a body that is up to ¾ inch long with a silvery cephalothorax and an abdomen with black, yellow, and gray patterns with white spots. It has brown or brownish red legs near the body that become banded with black or wholly black toward the end of the leg.

Black and yellow garden spiders may look exotic and dangerous, but they aren’t too harmful. They are known for investigating disturbances to their webs, and they can bite people that bother them. Yet, their bite only causes some mild pain and swelling in the rare cases they successfully land a bite.  

3. American Nursery Web Spider

american nursery web spider
American nursery web spiders create web-based nests for their young.

©SDeming/Shutterstock.com

Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Pisaurina mira1-3 inchesHas a bite that is mostly harmless to humans, with pain and swelling common.

The American nursery web spider does not have a lot of bright colors and beautiful patterns like other members of this list. Instead, this spider is a reddish brown or brown color with a dark brown pattern running the length of its body.

Oftentimes, their legs are the same light brown color as their bodies with dark brown chevrons on the femur that becomes banded brown and dark brown near the tibia and continues for the rest of the leg.

Although they’re dull to look at, they can get large. Including their leg length, these spiders can measure up to 3 inches long! Also, they’re interesting because they’re sexually cannibalistic and make a specialized web “nursery” for their young.  

2. Speckled Wolf Spider

Tiger wolf spider
Speckled wolf spiders are among the largest and most frightening spiders in Virginia.

©Judy Gallagher / Creative Commons – License

Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Tigrosa aspersa2-3 inchesDelivers a somewhat painful bite that causes swelling and redness, other symptoms may appear.

The speckled wolf spider is among the largest wolf spiders in the United States. It can measure up to an inch long just by body size alone. When you include their legs in the measurement, they can stretch upwards of 3 inches!

Due to their size, bulbous abdomen, and hairy bodies, these spiders are often confused for tarantulas. You’ll find these spiders living in tall grass, wooded areas, and near human structures, especially in the winter. They don’t use webs to hunt their prey. Instead, they will chase them down to feast on them.

Speckled wolf spiders are often dark brown or black, with a light brown line running down the cephalothorax. Their bodies and legs are hairy, and often have light-colored patterns or chevrons on the latter.  

Wolf spider bites can be painful and cause redness and swelling. Their bites are unpleasant, but they are not very dangerous to a healthy adult.  

1. Dark Fishing Spider

dark fishing spider
The dark fishing spider is often spotted near trees.

©iStock.com/JasonOndreicka

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 Virginia, measuring upwards of 4.5 inches across from the farthest points on its legs. The Dolomedes genus is common around bodies of water where they spend significant amounts of time hunting for food. Their size makes them an unwelcome sight to many people.

However, these spiders are far more likely to flee when a human appears than to attack. They will bite if they are handled and feel threatened, though. The pain and overall effect are said to be similar to a bee sting on a human, with some swelling and lingering pain. However, the spider’s bite is not as serious or painful as the wolf spider in a lot of cases.

Knowing the biggest spiders in Virginia and the fact that most of them cannot cause you harm, you may wonder what arachnids you need to avoid for your health. The most venomous spider in Virginia is the black widow. This spider is native to the state and can deliver a bite that is harmful or fatal. At least, they’re the only native spiders you need to worry about.

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The Featured Image

iStock-1365906682
The black and yellow garden spider is a common sight throughout much of the United States
© iStock.com/AwakenedEye

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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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Sources
  1. Missouri Department Of Conservation, Available here: https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/dark-fishing-spider
  2. University of Florida, Available here: https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/spiders/southern_house_spider.htm#:~:text=Southern%20house%20spiders%20are%20not,for%20up%20to%20two%20days
  3. NC State Extension, Available here: https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/black-and-yellow-garden-spider
  4. Missouri Department Of Conservation, Available here: https://education.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/speckled-wolf-spider