Spiny-Backed Hermit-Crab Spider

Gasteracantha Cancriformis, White Spiny-Backed Weaver, East-Coast sub-species 

Spiders with spiked white & black shells on their backs.

Sighted from North Carolina to West Virginia since 1985.

They have become the dominant woodland spider in Jefferson County, WV.

This variety is distinct from the Texas and Florida Spiny Orb Weaver in that the shell is mostly mono-chromatic (in this case white, but sometimes black) with very little pattern, no red tips, and the abdomen shape is more like a hermit-crab rather than a regular crab.

This article was written because there was no previous internet article concerning this spider.

They bite but do not appear poisonous to humans.


34 Responses to “Spiny-Backed Hermit-Crab Spider”

  1. swiftfan1 Says:

    I just found this spider in Saint Mary’s County, Maryland, but I didn’t know what it was until I typed “Maryland Spiders White” in Google Images and saw this picture. The spider I saw had some tiny grey spots on its ‘shell.’ Thanks for help with the ID.

    • Thanks swiftfan, its good to know I was not the only one wondering what the heck this spider was, and why no one had even mentioned a name for it since i first started seeing it decades ago. cheers!

  2. I’m just outside of Detroit, Michigan and I have this spider in my garden. My camera isn’t very good but I have gotten a few pictures of it. I never knew that ANY spiders had shells…This is the only “web”site that has a picture of the spider. It’s NOT yellow, but black and white!!!!!

  3. i just gound one today in hetshey pa….it scsred the sh!t outta me!!

  4. i just found one in my apartment right outside of philadelphia, pa. i freaked out and put it outside

  5. Thanks for this! I found one of these today while out hiking in Gunpowder Falls State Park, about an hour north of Baltimore, MD.

  6. I saw a spider lke this in central Indiana. The shell was mainly black with some white markings.

  7. Found one in a friends backyard in the Columbus, OH area. I had never seen one before. Kinda freakish looking! The one we found was black with some white spots that almost looked like a skull.

  8. You know this is the only website i found with this perticular spider… All the other ones have either yellow, red or green hard shells on them… And they have short legs unlike these, they have long legs! it had kind of freaked me out when i was sitting outside on my front porch today and the next thing i see is the funny looking spider sitting next to me! And I am right next to the states they were first seen in here in KY!!!

  9. these spiders dominate my trails in my back yard they appear to be fast rebuilders as well.

    very annoying bug they keep coming back after i knock them down.
    they just twirl the old web up then drop to the ground and make a new old in hours

    i’m actually writing a paper about this exact species so this is also a big help

    People where we live call them rock spiders or rock crabs but now that i know the actually name thats even better thankyou

  10. Ive taken a picture of this spider… I just found it in my laundry room and the floor… I like in Iowa, and have never come across this spider before..

  11. Thank you everyone that contributes to more info about this spider!

  12. Anonymous Says:

    found a few of these in a section of woods in CT

    • Anonymous Says:

      I’ve got lots of them in the woods behind my house in Mars Hill, NC. They look like they are carrying pagodas on their backs. They make lovely webs, but they make them right across the trails and sometimes I forget to watch for them and walk right through them. (Sorry little spiders!)


  13. i found this spider in Amherstburg ON. …..creepy lil thing,,

  14. I ran into a yellow one with black spots. It bit me. It was red and just burned for a little while.

  15. Anonymous Says:

    just found one in my garden in Lafayette, Louisiana!

  16. Darlene Says:

    Found 2 in PA in the last two days!! They relly creeped me out as they are so small and apparently can jump quite far! lol

  17. Was bit by this little guy in my yard in SE MA. Had no idea what it was until I found your site

  18. still freaking out Says:

    I am so happy I found this post. This spider is also here in myerstown pa. Also note it can make a huge web in under 4 hours it did so in my dining RM ceiling fan to door. And doesn’t respond to bug spray???? It just gathers its web looks like a little cotton ball. Is this spider dangerous?

  19. I found one in my back yard. It is just like the drawings.

  20. Christina Says:

    I have lived in Texas my entire life and never had seen a spider like thus until my sophomore year in high school. I found several in the woods on our ten aches. I put it in a jar and took it to my biology teacher and he couldn’t identify it either. I haven’t seen one in years but i just thought you would like to know that these spiders are here in Texas. Black and white shell and all.

  21. I found one of these by our barn in southern Alabama. It’s a beautiful spider, but this is the only article I could find on it. Thanks for the help.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    I found two in the last two days; first time I’d ever seen them! These have black shells with some white markings (as others have described). Google “spiders with shells” and Grampy at goatsass has a very good close-up picture.

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Sorry, (followup to 2-in-2-days), meant to mention these were found in central New Jersey.

  24. Anonymous Says:

    There is a plethora of these where I am in NC. Most in my yard are black with lighter markings, but I recently found two that looks just like this building their webs close to each other. Had never seen a white one before. Both types seem pretty resilient, we just had a thunderstorm and they’re all just rebuilding their webs.

  25. I live in Southern New Jersey, and have found this spider around my home. Several of them have appeared in the past couple of weeks! I was very confused, because I have never seen anything like this before!! Thank you so kindly for this information! It is very helpful, and made me feel better by knowing it’s not poisonous!

  26. Anonymous Says:

    This was on my cutting board in my kitchen today. https://i.imgur.com/C2jWfLr.jpg I live in SE Georgia!

  27. Anonymous Says:

    I live in the upstate NY region just south of the Adirondacks. Found one of these guys hanging on some Lilly. Creepy looking & want to abandon ship.. ahhhhhh….

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