According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, there are close to 400 species of spiders in the state. Of those, three are considered large, meaning they measure longer than one inch. They are the Wolf Spider, Fishing Spider and the Black and Yellow Garden Spider.
The Wolf Spider is one of the most common (there are about 125 species of this spider in the U.S.), while their body length can get about 1 inch their leg span is almost 2 inches.
These spiders are brown with light gray markings and are hairy enough to look like small tarantulas. They do not wait for food to come to them but will stalk their prey. They will hunt day or night.
They have eight eyes in three rows and if you shine a flashlight at them their eyes will glow. The female will carry their egg sacs. Once the spiderlings hatch, they will attach themselves to her until their first molt, after which they will leave.
According to those who know, it is said that the bite of one of these will cause pain for only 10 minutes. However, I will not test that fact. Their favorite food is crickets.
The Fishing Spider is a rather large spider with a leg span of up to 3 inches. Other common names are Dark Fishing Spider, Nursery Web Spider and Raft Spider. The female will lay her eggs on a silken mat then wrap them up into a small ball. She then hunts for a place that is safe for them to hatch, once that is found she will spin a web and attach the sac to it. She then stands guard until they hatch.
While they primarily hunt on land by the ambush method they can also submerge their bodies under the surface of calm water to hunt small fish and tadpoles. They have been known to stay under water for more than 30 minutes.
While they are identified with the water most them stay on land. Look for these guys waiting on tree trunks, fenceposts, walls and most vertical surfaces. If near water, they tend to live under docks, corners of boats and other dark, damp places. The primary colors are black, brown, tan and gray.
While they resemble Wolf Spiders, one way to tell the difference is the eyes. Fishing Spiders also have eight eyes but arranged in two rows.
My favorite spider is the Black and Yellow Garden Spider. It is also known as the Garden Spider, Golden Spider and the Golden Orb weaver. The body of the female can get to a bit more than an inch with a leg span of up to two-and-one-half inches. Her color is a boldly patterned black and yellow. The male is tiny; generally less than half an inch, his color runs in shades of brown.
Unlike the other two spiders, these are web spinners. They produce an orb-shaped web decorated with a bold zigzag band of silk called stabilimentum.
The female may lay three or four egg sacs in a season with seven to 15 days between each, each sac can contain from 400 to 1,200 eggs. In late autumn, the eggs hatch within the sac, the spiderlings stay overwinter in the sac to emerge the following spring. These spiders are daytime active but leave the web at night for bathroom breaks. The webs are generally eaten and rebuilt every day, except during the periods of molting and egg-laying.
Joe Whitfield is a naturalist and gardener for the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.