Arizona Naturalists >>> Sonoran Desert Naturalist >>> Field Guide >>> Spiders, Scorpions, other Arachnids

Sonoran Desert Arachnida

Most arachnids have eight legs and one or two main body segments. The head and thorax are broadly united into a cephalothorax. Mouthparts are chelicerae (fangs) which generally permit only liquefied food. Many species in the Sonoran Desert ... only a few are depicted here.

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Funnel Spider
 © by Mike Plagens

Medium to large sized spiders that use a trampoline-like sheet web with a distinct funnel retreat in one corner. Several common species. More info

Desert Tarantula
Aphonopelma sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Giant hairy spiders emerging from hidden burrows in late summer. Found walking along roads and washes. More info

Giant Crab Spider
Olios fasciculatus
photo © by J Blaugh

Large wandering spiders that can climb walls and ceilings. Long legs and small eyes. No web. More info

Fishing Spider
Dolomedes triton
 © by Mike Plagens

Robust spiders with long legs and without a web. Dives into shallow pools to capture small fish and aquatic insects. Remains near water. More info

Littoral Wolf Spider
Arctosa wolf spider © by Mike Plagens

Cursorial (running) spiders that hunt on moist sand along flowing desert canyon bottoms. More info

Green Lynx
Peucetia viridens
 © by Y Anderson

Large, mostly greenish spiders that hunt on and near flowers without a web. More info

Crab Spider
 © by Mike Plagens

Small to medium sized sit-and-wait predators often on flowers. No snaring web. Crawls sideways. More info

Lynx Spider
Hamataliwa sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Cryptic brown or gray spiders that hunt on trees or shrub bark without a web. First two pair of legs rotated slightly to face forward. More info

Phidippus Jumping Spider
Phidippus californicus
 © by Laurie Nessel

Active, diurnal spiders that jump after prey. Base color black and marked with red or salmon. More info

Jumping Spider
 © by Mike Plagens

Off-white marked with black looking like salt and pepper. Roams during day on vegetation. More info

Jumping Spider
Thiodina sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Active, diurnal spiders that do not use a web for prey capture. Instead use stealth and good vision to hunt prey. More info

Long-jawed Orb Weaver
Tetragnatha sp.
thumb image © by James Lindsey at Ecology of Commanster

Orb webs suspended above or very close to water. Males have long jaws. Hides length-wise on grass blades. More info

Dictyna sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Small spiders that inhabit dense, tangled webs in the foliage of shrubs. More info

Bowl and Doily Weaver
Frontinella communis
© by Mike Plagens

The basket-shaped web of this spider is a common sight through much of North America. More info

Sheet Web Spider
photo © by Mike Plagens

Small spiders that build delicate sheets of silken web often directly on the soil More info

Tangled Web Spider
Steatoda? sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

This small spider has its small web suspended below a spine cluster on a cactus. More info

Aphonopelma sp.
© by Mike Plagens

Other, smaller tarantula species are found in the Sonoran Desert. More info

Wolf Spider
Hogna sp.
© by Mike Plagens

Large spiders that hunt at night by roaming around ground surface. Four large eyes. Rarely climb walls/houses. More info

Long-legged Wolf Spider
Pardosa sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Fast-running spiders normally restricted to moist areas near riparian habitats. Hunts without a web. More info

Southern House Spider
Kukulcania hibernalis
© by Dale Ward

Normally lives within a silken tunnel in a crevice around dwellings. Males have longer legs and leave webs to search for mates. More info

Long-legged Sac Spider
photo © by Mike Plagens

Fast moving spiders that hunt on vegetation at night and hide in a silken retreat by day. More info

Orb Weaver
Metepeira sp.
orb weaver spider © by Mike Plagens

By day the spider hides among a group of leaves. Circlar web is constructed at night and taken down in the morning. More info

Banded Garden Spider
Argiope trifasciata
© by Mike Plagens

Large orb-weaving spider. Abdomen tapered to point. Bands on abdomen may be obscure. Riparian/agricultural areas mostly. More info

Cactus Sheet Web Spider
Diguetia albolineata
orb weaver spider © by Mike Plagens

Odd-shaped spider hides among a group of leaves tied together at center of irregular web. More info

Wall Spider
Oecobius spp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Small spiders common inside dwelling. Makes small quarter-sized webs in corners and textures. Other similar species on shady walls and rock faces. More info

Stripe-tailed Scorpion
Vaejovis spinigerus
© by Mike Plagens

Common scorpion found beneath rocks near washes and on mountain slopes. Painful but not dangerous sting. More info

Giant Hair Scorpion
Hadrurus arizonensis
photo © by Marc Borom

Largest scorpion in the Sonoran Desert. 'Hairs' require magnification to see. More info

Arizona Bark Scorpion
Centruroides sculpturatus
© by Mike Plagens

Most common scorpion found in and around dwellings in the Sonoran Desert. More info

Sun Spider
Eremobates sp.
© by Marcus Watson

Fast running and nocturnal. Pinchers in front but no sting. Harmless except for their small prey. More info

Scorpion Myths Debunked

by Matt Ellerbeck
Desert Harvestman
Eurybunus ?
desert harvestman © by Mike Plagens

Head and abdomen fused. Long slender legs with black and white rings. Body wine-colored. Wanders at dusk and dawn. No web. More info

Sclerosomatidae ?
photo © by Mike Plagens

Strictly nocturnal, with long legs and not using a web of any kind. Scavengers? More info

Red Velvet Mite
© by Mike Plagens

After summer rains these bizzare creatures emerge from underground crawling slowly about on the soil. More info

Pavement Mite
Balaustium sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

Small, bright red mites that run impossibly fast over sidewalks and foliage. More info

Gall Mite
© by Mike Plagens

Minute to microscopic mites living within plant tissue and causing blister-like galls. More info

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2016