Candy-striped spider is not only one of the coolest names for a spider – it also looks great. This spider, which goes by the scientific name of Enoplognatha ovata, is part of the cobweb spider family and has been introduced to the United States and Canada from Europe. Over the last years, its populations have spread throughout the Northern United States. The greenish spider with red stripes along its abdomen is now a common sight along the northern states along the East and the West Coast. Thankfully, this beauty of a spider is not medically significant and does not pose any threat to humans or pets.
Quick Overview: Enoplognatha ovata – Candy-striped spider
Medically significant: No
Body size: 1/4 inch (6 mm)
Main colors: green, white, red, yellow
Range: Northern United States (coast to coast)
Habitat: Mostly found outdoors
Web: Cobweb spider (often observed in plants with no visible web)
Enoplognatha ovata description
Candy-striped spiders are light-colored spiders. Their background color is light brown, yellow, cream-colored or even white. The legs and cephalothorax are normally light brown, orange or greenish and have a translucent appearance. The spider usually has a dark stripe along the middle of its cephalothorax (head).
The abdomen is usually large and round and more colorful than the rest of the body. Candy-striped spiders can come in three different color versions (morphs). The most commonly found in the U.S. is called the redimita form. In this morph, the spider has two red stripes running along the abdomen. The area between the red stripes is usually white or light yellow and can have black spots or stripes.
The red color is not always as strong as in the picture above. In some specimen, the red longitudinal stripes can appear light orange or even brownish.
The second morph, called ovata, has a similar appearance but there is no light area between the red stripes. So there is one large red, orange or brown stripe along the spider’s abdomen. The spider can also come without reddish markings. In the lineata morph, the two red stripes are replaced with a range of black spots.
Male spiders have a more oblong abdomen than females. Their body coloration is usually less bright than the females’.
Note: The closely-related and similar-looking species, Enoplognatha latimana, has also been introduced from Europe to the Northwestern United States. In the color morphs without red in the spider’s body coloration, the two species can easily be confused. E. latimana is also not medically significant.
The body of Enoplognatha ovata grows to an average length of 1/4 in (6 mm). Including their legs, they can be up to three times as long. Males are generally smaller than females.
Candy-striped spiders are part of the cobweb spider family (Theridiidae). They spin tangled and erratic webs to catch their prey. The web of E. ovata is mostly built in or around green plants where their body coloration provides the perfect camouflage. The strands of the web are often very thin and hard to see with the naked eye.
The picture below shows the web of a candy-striped spider with another spider as its victim. Despite their size, they can catch prey that is several times their own body size.
Candy-striped spider bites
Candy-striped spiders are relatively small spiders with small fangs. Since the spider is rarely found inside people’s homes and is generally not aggressive, bites occur very rarely. And even though these cobewb spiders are distant relatives of the black widow spiders, the only have a mild venom. A bite can cause some discomfort like minor local swelling and some local pain, but it is not considered medically significant.
Enoplognatha ovata Scientific Classification
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Chelicerata
- Class: Arachnida
- Order: Araneae
- Infraorder: Araneomorphae
- Family: Theridiidae
- Genus: Enoplognatha
- Species: Enoplognatha ovata
Distribution of the common candy-striped spider in the USA
The candy-striped spider has been introduced to the Northern United States from Europe. It is found throughout the Northeastern United States as well as in the Pacific Northwest and the states bordering Canada. Namely, it is found in the following U.S. States: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
Note: One of our readers has sent us an image of a candy-striped spider from Florida. The spider may either have hitched a ride with some cargo or it could mean that the range now extends much farther south than currently assumed. We are always glad for anyone who uploads pictures of their findings so we can update our range information.