The earliest ancestors of modern spiders first emerged on earth during the Devonian period between 420 and 360 million years ago. However, the more conventional looking spiders that we recognize today, true spiders, emerged around 300 million years ago during the Carboniferous period. True spiders represent the largest order of arachnids, as this order is comprised of nearly 35,000 species known worldwide. Of the many thousands of spiders that exist, the species commonly referred to as the pumpkin spider is known for dwelling within the coldest and warmest regions of the United States. These regions include the freezing cold and snowy landscapes covering Alaska and northern Canada, as well as the warm and forested landscapes covering much of the southeast US. In fact, the pumpkin spider is one of the very few spider species that is considered “holarctic,” as its habitat range spans the frigid northern hemisphere.
The pumpkin spider, also called the European garden spider and the cross-orbweaver, originated from, as you may be able to guess by one of its names, Europe, and this spider is not native to North America despite its wide distribution on the continent. The pumpkin spider belongs to the largest group of spiders, orb-weavers. Orb-weavers alone account for around 25 percent of spider diversity. In addition to being able to adapt to a diverse array of conditions, some of which are far too harsh to allow for the survival of most other arthropod species, pumpkin spiders are often found using their natural silk material as a sail in order to travel substantial distances along the tops of buildings. Pumpkin spiders can take advantage of strong high-altitude winds in order to sail from building to building. Considering the pumpkin spider’s superior ability to adapt to a variety of different environmental conditions, they are often found within homes located along the west coast, British Colombia and Canada, as well as along the southern border states. Although pumpkin spiders were accidentally introduced into the United States from Europe, where they are still abundant, these arachnids have managed to adapt to a diverse set of climatic conditions and landscapes within the US. These areas include gardens, farms, orchards, suburban and urban areas, forests, waterbodies, houses, buildings and even skyscrapers.
Have you ever found a bright orange spider within your home?