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.

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

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
Habronatus sp.

Gray jumper hunting on stucco wall in urban Phoenix. The females much drabber than males. More info

Jumping Spider
Colonus 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.

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

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

Sheet Web Spider

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

Tangled Web Spider
Steatoda? sp.

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

Western Black Widow
Latrodectus mactans

These spiders have potent venom, but the fangs are so small that bites are rare. Strictly nocturnal. More info

Aphonopelma sp.

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

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

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

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

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 ?

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

Red Velvet Mite

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

Pavement Mite
Balaustium sp.

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

Gall Mite

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

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2020.