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what kind of spider is this?
I was camping in Wisconsin and found this spider on the back side of my tent. I saw the shadow from the front and thought that the shadow was going to be deceiving but when i went around to the back it wasn't.
Drought Smart Plants reply: So, what you're saying is that it was just as large as the shadow made it appear? Too scary!
In general, the larger the spider, the less dangerous its bite (except for tarantulas and such, which we luckily don't have in most areas of North America).
I'm going to suggest that this is a grass spider, based partially on where you found it (ie: not in your house) and the arrangement of the legs and the large body. There are many kinds in this genus, and only a specialist can pin down exactly which one it is. They are all Agelenopsis species.
They eat mainly insects which they can chase down on foot, building a horizontal sheet with a funnel to one edge. There are no sticky fibers for insects to stick to, but long telegraph fibers link to the funnel opening, alerting the spider to prey caught in the web.
Great picture, by the way.