spiders are an extremely large and diverse group
with thousands of species. While most spiders are
harmless a few are dangerously venomous. Spider
identification can be very tricky once you get
below the level of family classification. Species
and genus-level determinations generally require a
good stereo-microscope plus some experience. You
may, however, be able to figure out higher level
classification by comparing your specimen to a
drawing or photograph.
important for most people is to be able to
accurately identify the poisonous or venomous
species that occur around where they live. In
the US three species are commonly blamed for
venomous bites: the hobo spider, the brown
recluse spider and the black widow spider
(see links above and Common
Venomous Spiders In The US).
Once you learn to recognize and
avoid the few venomous species where you live you can relax. For all other spiders you should use a field guide
with good color pictures and range maps to do your identification. Recently some good online resources have become available as well. One such is SpiderID, an
online community devoted to spider identification.