What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Spider help!
Location: Northeast, USA
September 7, 2014 8:32 pm
Hi there,
Hoping you can help me identify this big guy. We just moved from Brooklyn to upstate NY (Gansevoort just north of Saratoga Springs to be exact), and we have found 3 of these large spiders hanging around the house/porch. They are about the size of my palm with legs outstretched– big and scary! My main concern is our 2 yr old daughter– are these guys poisonous?
Many thanks in advance for your help,
(today’s date is Sept. 7th)
Signature: Sue

Barn Spider

Barn Spider

Dear Sue,
This is an Orbweaver in the family Araneidae, and we are nearly certain it is a Barn Spider,
Araneus cavaticus, a conclusion we reached upon comparing your image to this image on BugGuide.  The information page on BugGuide notes:  “This is the spider in the book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. The spider’s full name is Charlotte A. Cavatica.”  Of the entire family, BugGuide notes:  “Orb weavers are very docile, non-aggressive spiders that will flee at the first sign of a threat (typically they will run or drop off the web). They are not dangerous to people & pets, and are actually quite beneficial because they will catch and eat a lot of pest-type insects. ”  Like most spiders, Orbweavers have venom, but it is not considered highly toxic to humans, and in the unlikely event that a bite does occur, the symptoms are usually not much more than local swelling, redness and tenderness that quickly pass with no lasting effects.

Hi Daniel,
Thank you so much for taking the time to write me back.  Such a relief to know all of this info!  From the image / link you sent, I agree, it does look like a barn spider.  So glad to know they’re basically harmless– the ones we saw were pretty big and intimidating, but sounds like they’re the gentle giant types.
Many thanks again,

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Saratoga Springs, New York

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