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University of Minnesota Extension


Quick facts

  • Spiders are insect relatives that are beneficial because of the large number of insects they eat.
  • Spiders are not aggressive or dangerous and bites are rare.
  • The number of spiders in and around homes can be reduced but it is not practical to make a home spider-free.
Grass spider

Identifying common spiders

Spiders are closely related to mites, ticks and scorpions and are collectively known as arachnids.

Both spiders and insects are arthropods, meaning their skeletons are on the outside of their bodies (exoskeleton).

Web-building spiders construct webs in calm, undisturbed places to capture their food.

  • They live in or near their web and wait for food to come to them.
  • They generally have poor eyesight and rely on sensing vibrations in their web to find prey.
  • Some species of web-building spiders can survive and reproduce well indoors and outdoors.

Hunting spiders are outdoor spiders that may wander indoors accidentally. 

  • They do not make webs to capture food. 
  • They are quick and have good eyesight that helps them to capture prey.
  • Active hunters search for and chase their prey.
  • Passive hunters lie in wait and capture prey as it approaches.
  • They live outdoors but may enter into homes accidentally, particularly in the fall.
  • They do not survive well indoors and usually do not reproduce indoors.

Spider biology and behavior


Descriptions and pictures of different spiders

Open a drawer to see pictures and descriptions of common spiders found in Minnesota. Sizes given for each spider represent the length of the body not including legs. 


How to deal with spiders at home and outdoors


Jeffrey Hahn, Extension entomologist; Laura Jesse, Iowa State University; Donald Lewis, Iowa State University; P.J. Liesch, University of Wisconsin

Reviewed in 2019

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