5 of the Biggest Spiders in Nebraska

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: October 11, 2022
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Like some of the other midwestern states in the U.S., Nebraska is known for being a thriving agricultural hub. Nebraska has major cattle raising operations as well as dairy production services. With all the vast open fields, geological formations, and empty space, it’s easy to overlook small creatures like insects and arachnids. So, today we’re going to shed some light on five of the biggest spiders in Nebraska. You might learn that they get bigger than you thought or that they’re not as bad as they seem.

What Are the Biggest Spiders in Nebraska?

Nebraska is home to a few of the largest spiders in the United States, especially those in the Dolomedes genus. As we look at five of the biggest spiders in Nebraska, we’re not just going to focus on size. We want to emphasize that they are harmless to people in most cases. With that in mind, let’s start our look at these spiders with a familiar and somewhat long specimen.

5. American Grass Spider

Grass Spider - Agelenopsis
The American grass spider builds small funnel shaped webs.

©Judy Gallagher / flickr – License

Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Agelenopsis naevia1-2 inchesA bite causes redness, swelling, and pain in the area the bite was delivered.

The American grass spider is a spider that can vary between light or dark shades of brown and has a yellow-brown-tinged stripe running down the middle of its cephalothorax. The abdomen of this spider is highly patterned, with a mottled light shade in the middle and darker outlines.

At the end of the abdomen are two long spinnerets that some people confuse for mandibles. These spiders build small funnel-shaped webs in vegetation, hence their names.

They also go by the name eastern funnel web spider, but that one is less useful since it shares a title with a venomous species of Australian spiders. This spider can bite, but it will only leave a little pain and redness in the area.

4. Black and Yellow Garden Spider

writing spider in web
Black and yellow garden spiders can grow up to 3 inches long!

©iStock.com/DianaLynne

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

The black and yellow garden spider is also known as the writing spider due to its unique web. Their webs, which are a few feet in diameter, have an extra-thick part called the stabilimentum. This portion of the web looks like someone tried to write a message on it. The spider sits on this part of the web and waits for prey.

Aside from their webs, these spiders are known for their bright colors. They have a black and yellow abdomen with some silver mixed in sometimes along with a silvery cephalothorax. Their legs are typically light near the body and then get darker, either black or banded black and brown.

The spider’s bite is not that serious, but it’s a good idea not to handle them. Their bite can cause temporary pain and swelling in the area that was bitten.

3. American Nursery Web Spider

american nursery web spider
Male American nursery web spiders will tie females’ legs during mating to avoid being eaten afterward.

©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 is often found living in and around tall vegetation that gives it cover. You’ll find it in forests, fields, and meadows. These spiders are quite remarkable for a lot of reasons, starting with the fact that they make a web-based nursery for their hatchling spiders and watch over them.

Their maternal instincts aside, the females of this species are known for attempting to eat their mates. The American nursery web spider is not difficult to identify. It’s a brown or reddish-brown spider with a dark stripe bordered by a light color that runs the length of its entire body.

They may have a darker mark in the middle of their abdomen’s stripe too. This is one of the biggest spiders in Nebraska as it measures up to 3 inches long. However, it doesn’t seriously hurt people when it bites. Instead, people experience some swelling and pain in the affected area and nothing else.

2. Tiger Wolf Spider

Tiger Wolf Spider
The tiger wolf spider is also known as the speckled wolf spider or woodland giant wolf spider.

©HWall/Shutterstock.com

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

The tiger wolf spider, a name that is applied to other species as well, is also found in Nebraska, and it’s one of the biggest members of its family. This creature also goes by the name the speckled wolf spider.

This spider is a hunter that doesn’t use webs to capture its prey. Instead, you’ll find them lying in wait under cover of rocks, tall vegetation, logs, and in the dark corners of your home. They’ll actively pursue prey using their blazing speeds.

Like other wolf spiders, the tiger wolf spider is known for having a mostly dark carapace with a light brown line running from just behind its eyes all the way down the cephalothorax. A bite from one of these wolf spiders is not that serious. That assessment may not feel correct at first, though. The spider’s bite can cause some moderate pain, swelling, redness, and itchiness in the affected area.

Unless you’re allergic to their venom, you’ll be okay after a little while, though.  

1. Dark Fishing Spider

dark fishing spider
The dark fishing spider can be found waiting on trees.

©iStock.com/JasonOndreicka

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

The dark fishing spider is the biggest spider in Nebraska and many other states. This spider has a legspan that often exceeds 4 inches. Their habit of waiting on trees and docks with their legs spread out contributes to the perception of their size.

Despite being large, these spiders are very fast. They can seemingly disappear by the time a person looks away and looks back at them. Like other fishing spiders, they do not appreciate the company of humans. That means if you handle one the wrong way, it will try to flee, but it can still bite.

You can expect moderate pain and swelling in the area after a dark fishing spider bites you. These spiders are usually a mottled brown, black, or tan color with W-shaped patterns on their abdomen.

As you can see, the biggest spiders in Nebraska are really nothing to worry about. The spiders that can cause serious harm through their bites are the black widow and brown recluse. Take some time to learn how to recognize them and make sure you keep away from them when possible or have them exterminated if they get into your home.

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Are Yellow Garden Spiders Poisonous or Dangerous - Yellow Garden Spider
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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 (1970) mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/black-yellow-garden-spider
  2. National Wildlife Federation, Available here: https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Yellow-Garden-Spider
  3. Missouri Department of Conservation (1970) mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/dark-fishing-spider