Currently available detectors for spores of Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, are inadequate for frontline use and general monitoring. There is a critical need for simple, rugged, and inexpensive detectors capable of accurate and direct identification of B. anthracis spores. Necessary components in such detectors are stable ligands that bind tightly and specifically to target spores. By screening a phage display peptide library, we identified a family of peptides, with the consensus sequence TYPXPXR, that bind selectively to B. anthracis spores. We extended this work by identifying a peptide variant, ATYPLPIR, with enhanced ability to bind to B. anthracis spores and an additional peptide, SLLPGLP, that preferentially binds to spores of species phylogenetically similar to, but distinct from, B. anthracis. These two peptides were used in tandem in simple assays to rapidly and unambiguously identify B. anthracis spores. We envision that these peptides can be used as sensors in economical and portable B. anthracis spore detectors that are essentially free of false-positive signals due to other environmental Bacillus spores.