SPIDERS OF BRITISH COLUMBIA



Western Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus), photo by Jeremy Gatten

by

Robb Bennett
Research Associate, Royal British Columbia Museum

View the Checklist of the Spiders of British Columbia (2012)
View our spider atlas pages
Visit the spider photo gallery

“ . . . spiders are ruthless storm troops in the matriarchal anarchy that is the arthropod world: theirs is the most diverse, female-dominated, entirely predatory order on the face of the earth. As such, spiders are key components of all ecosystems in which they live.” (Bennett 1999).

To date, there are 729 spider species confirmed from British Columbia--the total spider fauna of the province is estimated to be more than 1000 species (Bennett et al. 2012). Click here to read about the spiders of British Columbia (PDF posted with permission of the ESBC). Or read this paper on Canadian spider diversity and systematics (PDF posted with permission of the BSC(TA)).

To learn more about the Royal British Columbia Museum's spider surveys and research see the CBC's interview with the RBCM's spider researchers and coverage in the Revelstoke Current and the Nelson Daily.

Read our note on the mating sequence of the familiar crab spider (Misumena vatia). You will need to scroll down to page 144 to view the article.


Grass Spider (Agelenopsis sp.) female with egg case, photo by Diane Williamson

Spider Bites

Spider bites are often misdiagnosed.  Read the article in Canadian Family Physician by Robb Bennett and Rick Vetter on the misdiagnosis of spider bites in Canada. Read the Royal Alberta Museum page on medically significant spiders, prepared by Terry Thormin. For excellent information regarding those "mystery bites and itches" that are commonly mistaken for spider bites, see: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/bug_bites.html 

Some notes about spiders that are of real or imaginary medical interest:

 1) Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa): 

There are no brown recluse spiders in BC or in Canada. Their range is limited to the south-central and mid-western US.  Click here for a general account about the brown recluse spider, where it occurs, and how to identify it.  For a more detailed account of the biology of brown recluse and related spiders in North America (including medical information), read this article published in The Journal of Arachnology by well-known brown recluse spider specialist Rick Vetter.

2) Western black widow spider (Latrodectus hesperus): 

There are five species of black widow spiders in  North America, north of Mexico. The species found in British Columbia is the western black widow spider. This species of cobweb spider, or comb-footed spider, is found from southern Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia south into Mexico.  In British Columbia, it is widespread in southern BC. The look-alike false black widow spider (Steatoda grossa) is widespread throughout the province. It may be mistaken for the black widow, but lacks the red hour-glass on its abdomen. " In coastal British Columbia, L. hesperus naturally co-occurs with two species of European house spiders: the giant house spider, Eratigena atrica (formerly known as Tegenaria duellica) and the hobo spider, Eratigena agrestis (formerly known as Tegenaria agrestis (Araneae: Agelenidae). Both Eratigena species were introduced to the Pacific Northwest in the early 20th century, rapidly spread and have now become invasive." (Salomon 2007).

Click here to read more about the western black widow spider

3) Hobo spider (Eratigena agrestis):  

This introduced species of funnel-web weaver is widespread across southern BC and is mostly synanthropic (found close to human habitation), but also occurs in natural habitats in south-western and south-central BC.  Populations of hobo spider are very localized, and it co-occurs with the western black widow spider. (Salomon 2007). Note that no verified case of hobo spider envenomation exists. In Canada, hobo spiders are found only in southern British Columbia.

Read more about the distribution of the hobo spider in the US and Canada, by Vetter et al.(PDF). Posted with permission.

Recommended Links

The American Arachnological Society
The World Spider Database

Spiders of California

Global Species Database of Salticidae (Jumping Spiders)

Wayne Maddison's home page

International Society of Arachnology

Jumping Spiders

Aranaea, Spiders of North-West Europe
Araneae: Spiders of Europe (select for English)

Please cite these pages as:

Author, date, page title. In:   Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2013. E-Fauna BC: Electronic Atlas of the Fauna of British Columbia [www.efauna.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Date Accessed]

© Copyright 2013 E-Fauna BC.