5 of the Biggest Spiders in North Dakota

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: June 30, 2023
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North Dakota is a large, open state renowned for its national parks and possessing a recent history steeped in the fight for preserving natural lands. The state is vast, and it is the home of the largest creature in the U.S., the bison. North Dakota is also home to many spiders that are quite large. Today, we’re looking at the biggest spiders in North Dakota, and we’ll show you their most important qualities.  

Infographic of 5 Biggest Spiders in North Dakota
The dark fishing spider, North Dakota’s largest spider, has a legspan that exceeds four inches.

What Are the Biggest Spiders in North Dakota?

Whether you’re visiting the natural expanses of this amazing state or you’re settling down to live here, then you’ll want to know about the creatures that call this place home. We’re going to cover a small, oft-forgotten population in the form of the biggest spiders in North Dakota.

That way, you’ll learn how these spiders look, whether they are a danger to you, and just how big they get.

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5. Trapdoor Spider

Trapdoor spider

Trapdoor spiders are found in forests mostly but live in burrows.

©nokkaew/Shutterstock.com

Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Ummidia Genus1-2 inchesDelivers a mildly painful bite.

Let’s start by saying the chances are high that you’ll never meet a trapdoor spider. Their habitat is often found in forests and other areas rife with vegetation, but they live in burrows. These specialized holes are lined with webs and feature a hinged door that opens into the world.

The trapdoor spider will leave the door partially open at night when they’re most active. That way, when an insect goes by, they can fling open the door and drag it into their burrow to finish it off.

If not for their relatively diminutive size, the trapdoor spider would be feared even more by humans because it resembles a tarantula. They have a shiny dark brown or nearly black carapace and leg, but a matte, hairy, and bulbous abdomen.

You usually don’t have to worry about being bitten by this spider. Yet, if you reached into its burrow for some reason, then it would probably deliver a mildly painful bite to you. They’re not very dangerous to humans, though.  

4. Long-Bodied Cellar Spider

daddy long legs

Cellar spiders’ bodies are small since most of their length comes from their legs.

©iStock.com/ViniSouza128

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

The long-bodied cellar spider is often described as having a peanut-shaped body, with a bulbous abdomen. Their bodies are rather small since most of their length comes from their long legs. Even though they’re one of the biggest spiders in North Dakota, they don’t have very big bodies.

As a result of their leg length, some people refer to these spiders as daddy long legs, a name that is applied to other arachnids too.

Cellar spiders have tan, brown, or grayish-colored bodies that are semi-translucent. They also have a dark mark on their carapace, and that mark has given these spiders another common name, the skull spider.

The cellar spider often lives up to its name, living in basements, garages, storm cellars, and other dark areas. They are not a serious threat to humans even though they may look and act scary. A bite from one of these spiders merely results in some minor, burning pain that rapidly diminishes.  

3. Rabid Wolf Spider

rabid wolf spider

Rabid wolf spiders are harmless to humans but larger specimens can give a painful bite.

©Brett Hondow/Shutterstock.com

Scientific NameSizeDanger to Humans
Rabidosa rabida1-3 inchesThe bite may cause some pain and swelling, it but is not otherwise harmful to humans.

The rabid wolf spider is not dangerous to humans despite its name sounding like it hunts them for sport. Instead, the rabid wolf spider is only truly dangerous to its prey including other spiders and insects.

This creature has similar markings to other wolf spiders in that it has two dark marks running down its cephalothorax and one running down the length of its abdomen. Typically, the spider’s body is light brown or tan and the darker portions are dark brown. Their legs are usually light brown, but they get darker as they move away from the body.

This creature has a total body length of about an inch, and its legspan is about three inches. You’ll find them in forests, fields, and in homes sometimes. They like to live in covered areas and sometimes burrows. This spider can inflict some pain and swelling when it bites you, but it’s not that dangerous.

2. Ground Wolf Spider

ground wolf spider

Ground wolf spiders hunt in the open.

©Lukas Jonaitis/Shutterstock.com

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

The ground wolf spider can measure up to three inches long, making it one of the biggest spiders in North Dakota. They have been discovered in many different habitats, so it’s not unusual to find them in grasslands or in human structures. Like other creatures, they often pursue food and shelter in cold weather, and that brings them into contact with people.

Don’t worry, though. A bite from this wolf spider is merely painful and will leave a bump. They rarely inflict more damage than that unless the person is allergic to wolf spider bites.  

Ground wolf spiders don’t build webs. They hunt in the open, and they’re very fast. They’re frequently brown-colored with a thick light brown stripe and dark patterns on their cephalothorax and a mottled brown, dark brown, and black abdomen. These spiders may give you a scare since they’re so large, but they won’t go out of their way to harm you.

1. Dark Fishing Spider

dark fishing spider

The dark fishing spider is the biggest spider in North Dakota.

©iStock.com/JasonOndreicka

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

Dolomedes tenebrosus, also known as the dark fishing spider, is the biggest spider in North Dakota. This creature has a legspan that exceeds four inches, and it has quite a large body. Although it is a member of the fishing spider family, it is often found near trees and may venture quite far from bodies of water.

This spider has a fairly large body and rests on trees with its legs fully extended, making it appear even larger. You’re more likely to scare off one of these spiders than interact with it, though. They’re hunting spiders that don’t build webs. They can end up in or around your home in pursuit of prey, but they’re not looking to settle down inside.

These spiders have a mottled brown, dark brown, and black carapace and abdomen, but the latter has W-shaped patterns in the center. Bites from this spider are very rare and are said to feel similar to a bee sting.

All in all, the biggest spiders in North Dakota are not that harmful to humans. In fact, some of them may be pleasant to look at. That doesn’t mean no spiders in the state can hurt you. You need to learn how to identify and stay away from the black widow spider, a creature with a potentially fatal bite.

This is the most dangerous spider in the state, and you should keep your distance and get help removing these spiders from your home if you can’t do it yourself. You should also be wary of the yellow sac spider, an arachnid with a painful bite that remains the subject of studies regarding its potential for harm.

Summary of the 5 of the Biggest Spiders in North Dakota

Here’s a recap of the five largest spider species found in North Dakota.

RankSpiderSize
1Dark Fishing Spider3.5-4.5 inches
2Ground Wolf Spider2-3 inches
3Rabid Wolf Spider1-3 inches
4 Long-Bodied Cellar Spider1-2 inches
5Trapdoor Spider1-2 inches

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Geartooth Productions/Shutterstock.com


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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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