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Guide to Spiders

American House Spider

Parasteatoda Tepidariorum

Description: The American House Spider is an extremely common spider that is fairly likely to escape notice since it tends to build its tangled web in secluded locations. Its behavior on its web is quiet and efficient, so it generally does not draw attention to itself. There are several species of this genus, Achaearania. Their coloration consists generally in patterns of shades of brown, and they are rather dull in appearance, all of which makes it more easy for them to slip into the background. They are not known to bite people with any high degree of frequency, and their venom is not known to be dangerous to human beings.

Color: Brown to Dark Brown
Legs: 8
Shape: Oval Body with Long Legs

Size: 1/4" - 1/2"
Antennae: False

Habits: Like many predators, American House Spiders seem to have no idea that they might become the prey of some other animal. If they are removed from their webs they are rather helpless because they have such poor vision, and their only concern seems to be to leave the uncomfortable place they find themselves in and find their own web or build another one.

Habitat: They do not wander around inside one's house except to find a secure place to build a web. Once they have a web they are quite happy to stay there waiting for flies and mosquitoes.

Threats: They are not known to bite people with any high degree of frequency, and their venom is not known to be dangerous to human beings.

Prevention: Caulking the cracks, crevices, and holes in the house so the spider can't walk right in is the first step in control.

Black Widow Spiders

Lactrodectus Mactans

Description: Black Widow Spiders are most recognized for the red hourglass shape under their abdomen. Contrary to legend, female Black Widow Spiders rarely devour the male Black Widow Spider after mating.


Color: Black with Red Hourglass on Back
Legs: 8
Shape: Round
Size: 3/4" to 3/8"
Antennae: False

Habits: Black Widow Spiders spin their webs near ground level. They often build their webs in protected areas, such as in boxes and in firewood.

Habitat: Black Widow Spiders are often found around wood piles and gain entry into a structure when firewood is carried into a building. They are also found under eaves, in boxes, and other areas where they are undisturbed.

Threats: The venom of a Black Widow Spider is a neurotoxin and is used as a defense. Black Widow Spiders do not bite humans instinctively. The Black Widow Spider bite can cause severe pain. Young children and the elderly are especially susceptible to a severe reaction to a Black Widow Spider bite.

Prevention: Avoid Black Widow Spider bites by wearing heavy gloves when moving items that have been stored for a long period of time. Spiders often hide in shoes, so check shoes and shake them out before wearing. When spider webs are visible, use caution before putting your hands or feet in that area.

Brown Recluse Spiders

Loxosceles Reclusa

Description:  Brown recluse spiders have a characteristic dark brown violin marking on their back.


Color: Lite Brown with Dark Brown Violin on Back
Legs: 8
Shape: Round
Size: 5/8"
Antennae: False

Habits: Brown recluse spiders are nocturnal and eat other bugs like cockroaches and crickets. Male brown recluse spiders wander farther than females and will crawl into shoes or other clothing.

Habitat: Brown recluse spiders often live outdoors in debris and wood piles. They can be found indoors in storage areas and dark recesses.

Threats: Like the black widow spider, the brown recluse spider bites in defense and does not bite humans instinctively. They will bite humans when the clothing they are hiding in is worn. The brown recluse spider bite is painful and can produce an open, ulcerating sore.

Prevention: To avoid brown recluse spiders, avoid keeping clothing on the floor. Store clothing and shoes inside plastic containers, and shake out all clothing that has been in a hamper before wearing or washing.

Wolf Spider

Rhabidosa Rabida

Description: Wolf spiders are members of the family Lycosidae. They are robust and agile hunters with good eyesight. They live mostly solitary lives and hunt alone. Some are opportunistic hunters pouncing upon prey as they find it or even chasing it over short distances. Some will even wait for passing prey in or near the mouth of a burrow. There are many genera of wolf spider, ranging in body size from less than 1 to 30 millimetres (0.04 to 1.18 in). They have eight eyes arranged in three rows. The bottom row consists of four small eyes, the middle row has two very large eyes (which distinguishes them from the Pisauridae), and the top row has two medium-sized eyes.


Color: Brown to Dark Brown
Legs: 8
Shape: Oval Body with Long Legs
Size: 1" - 2"
Antennae: False

Habits: They are robust and agile hunters with good eyesight. They live mostly solitary lives and hunt alone.

Habitat: Wolf spiders can be found in a wide range of habitats both coastal and inland. These include shrublands, woodland, wet coastal forest, alpine meadows, and suburban gardens. Spiderlings disperse aerially and consequently wolf spiders have wide distributions. Although some species have very specific microhabitat needs (such as stream-side gravel beds or montane herb-fields) most are wanderers without permanent homes. Some build burrows which can be opened or have a trapdoor.

Threats: Wolf spiders are capable of defensive bites, and some South American species may give bites that are medically significant. However, in general their presence works in favor of humans because they consume insects. Wolf spiders will inject venom freely if continually provoked. Symptoms of their venomous bite include swelling, mild pain and itching. Though usually considered harmless to humans, the bite of some species may be painful.

Prevention: Caulking the cracks, crevices, and holes in the house so the spider can't walk right in is the first step in control.

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