Are you one of the millions of Americans who find spiders frightening? Or the equally large group who find them intriginging? Or both! Either way, it’s a common belief that spiders enter our homes and other structures in the fall and take up residence to survive the harsh winter conditions. However, bad news for arachnophobes: pest control experts have found that spiders don’t flock to your home in the autumn, but rather they’ve been living with you year-round. As spring emerges, these unseen houseguest house spiders are starting to prepare for the summer season by laying eggs and making your home – their home!
While a few spiders on your property can actually be a good thing — they eat annoying pests like mosquitoes, flies, and ants — female spiders can lay as many as a couple hundred to a thousand eggs, which is a few hundred too many for most homeowners.
We’ve put together this guide of the seven most common house spiders to help homeowners identify what kind of arachnid they’re dealing with and whether they should be worried if they find these crawling creatures on their property.
American House Spider (aka Common House Spider)
The American house spider resides in the same family as the black widow spider; however, this species rarely injects its venom, and the venom is not lethal to humans. Victims will probably experience nothing more than an itchy bump at the site of the bite.
Don’t let the movies fool you; this species does not attack people and would prefer to run away from any kind of conflict. The American house spider is even known to “play dead” when threatened.
- Commonly Found: The American house spider can most commonly be found across the northwestern region of the United States.
- Color: The most common coloring for an American house spider is dark brown, but they can also be gray.
- Markings: The American house spider’s dark coloring often is mottled with dark and light patches. However, their appearance can vary depending on where you live. The easiest way to identify the American house spider is by its bulbous abdomen.
- Ideal Habitat: Homeowners will know they have an American house spider nearby as this species is responsible for messy, tangled webs that look strikingly similar to a Halloween decoration. American house spiders tend to find a dark secluded spot to start weaving their webs. Most likely they’ll take up residence in a basement, crawlspace, or an attic.
- Diet: Even though Hollywood has portrayed the American house spider to be a man-eating monster, that couldn’t be further from reality. Like most spiders, the American house spider feeds on household pests and small insects such as ants, mosquitoes, flies, and wasps. Larger house spiders have been known to attack grasshoppers and cockroaches.
Long-Bodied Cellar Spider (aka Daddy Long Legs)
Contrary to the rumors, the long-bodied cellar spider is not the most deadly spider in the world. They are venomous, but the effect their venom has on humans is little to none. There are no reported cases of people being hospitalized due to a bite from this spider.
- Commonly Found: Long-bodied cellar spiders are found all around the world and throughout the United States.
- Color: The Long-bodied cellar spider usually is a pale tan, gray, or even light yellow in coloring.
- Markings: A few species of the Pholcidae family have banding or chevron markings, but no other distinctive features.
- The cellar spider is often confused with another arachnid with the same nickname of “Daddy Long Legs.” Also known as the Harvestmen, this creature bears a striking resemblance to the spider. The Harvestmen is an arachnid but does not have a segmented body like a spider. It has no fangs or venom, its legs are much longer than its body, and it does not build webs.
- Ideal Habitat: Long-bodied cellar spiders prefer dark, quiet, and protected environments. That’s why homeowners will commonly find this species in their house basements, crawl spaces, garages, or warehouses. They can also be found on eaves, windows, ceilings, as well as inside closets and sink cabinets. It is believed that this species does better in environments with higher relative humidity.
- In the outdoors, cellar spiders can be found in dark and damp environments like caves, under rocks, and in loose bark.
- Diet: Like most other spiders, the long-bodied cellar spider eats small insects such as moths, flies, mosquitoes, and occasionally other spiders.
As if just seeing a spider is bad enough, the jumping spider may live in your house and has the added ability to leap into thin air and land on you! There is no need to panic if bitten by a jumping spider. While these tiny arachnids are venomous, their venom isn’t harmful to people — fortunately, they can’t deliver a dose large enough to be harmful.
- Commonly Found: Jumping spiders can be found throughout all 50 U.S. states. Depending on the spider, they can live in a variety of habitats (deserts, temperate forests, mountains, scrublands, etc.) There is even a Himalayan jumping spider that can survive the harsh conditions of Mount Everest.
- Color: Jumping spiders come in a variety of colors including black, brown, tan, and grey.
- Markings: Most often jumping spiders will have white, gray, yellow, blue, red, and even green markings in a variety of patterns.
- One of the most common jumping spiders in the United States is the zebra jumping spider, which has a gray body with white markings on the abdomen and their legs are brown or grey with light stripes, similar to the markings of a zebra.
- Ideal Habitat: Outside, jumping spiders hide under rocks, rotting wood, and leaves.
- Inside the house, jumping spiders are typically found along the windows and doors — this arachnid does its best hunting in the sunlight and these areas are a popular spot for bugs.
- Diet: A typical jumping spider diet is composed of mosquitoes, webworms, bollworms, cotton leaf worms, crickets, moths, flies, roaches, and grasshoppers. Jumping spiders are unusual in the fact that they are active in the day and will travel great distances to find food.
Fortunately, the wolf spider’s venom is not particularly harmful to humans and symptoms usually include redness and swelling.
Wolf spiders are typically active at night but have been known to hunt for food during the day. They usually only enter a house in search of food and end up staying, taking up residence in a wall crack or under the furniture.
- Commonly Found: The wolf spider is common throughout households and businesses in the United States and Canada. This arachnid tends to live anywhere there are bugs to eat. However, they are especially common in regions with vast amounts of grasslands and meadows; but they are known to live in mountains, deserts, wetlands, and even rainforests.
- Color: Wolf spiders can come in a variety of muted grey, black or tan colors — perfect for camouflaging in the underbrush.
- Markings: Large, hairy, and varying in colors, wolf spiders tend to have dark stripes or splotches that help the spider blend into its surroundings. Compared to other spider species, the wolf spider has thick, robust legs that are often marked with stripes.
- Ideal Habitat: Typically found in areas with dense ground covers (ivy, monkey grass, vancouveria, etc.), the wolf spider thrives in environments with lush landscaping where they can chase their prey. They can be found under stones, leaves, firewood, and other debris around your house.
- Diet: A regular meal for a wolf spider consists of crickets, ants, grasshoppers, other spiders, and other small invertebrates. Although, if the spider is big enough, it may prey on lizards and frogs.
Although for many years it was believed that hobo spiders were aggressive, that is actually not entirely true. Hobo spiders are no more aggressive than any other species but the idea may have stemmed from the fact that female hobo spiders are particularly protective of their egg sac. If the female believes her egg sac is threatened or in danger, she may bite.
It should be noted that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a hobo spider’s venom is not toxic to humans; irritation and a small red bump are common symptoms of a hobo spider bite.
- Commonly Found: The hobo spider is not native to the United States and was brought over from Europe in the 1930s. Since then, the hobo spider has established a secure home in at least six Pacific Northwest states and continues to expand its habitat by taking over other species.
- Color: Hobo spiders are commonly confused with other species due to the fact that they don’t have a lot of distinguishing features — unfortunately, they’re a similar color to the wolf spider and the brown recluse. Generally, the hobo spider is a muted brown color or other earth shades.
- It can take a trained professional to identify these spiders, so it’s best to stay away — in case it is the brown recluse (whose venom is toxic to humans).
- Markings: As previously stated, there aren’t a lot of distinct features; however, for those who can get close enough, the hobo spider does have a herringbone pattern on the top side of its abdomen and even colored smooth legs.
- Ideal Habitat: Hobo spiders are generally found in dark, secluded areas of your house that can support their tunnel-shaped web. Homeowners might find them near the foundation of a house, beneath rocks and woodpiles, and even in a flower bed. When found indoors, it’s most likely they’ll be in the basement.
- Hobo spiders are notoriously bad climbers, hence why they’re usually found at ground level. On occasion, they can climb up to about four feet but only if the surface is extremely porous.
- Diet: Hobo spiders catch their prey in their funnel webs. The species commonly feeds on flies, cockroaches, beetles, silverfish, and other small pests.
Brown Recluse (aka the Fiddle Spider or Violin Spider)
Brown Recluse Spiders are an insect to be respected. While not aggressive in nature and prefer to run away, these brown recluse spiders tend to bite when they feel threatened or cornered.
While both male and female brown recluse spiders can inject venom, people are usually bitten by a male brown recluse (due to their roaming habits) which only has about half the venom as the female.
A brown recluse bite can result in necrotic wounds; however, this is extremely rare. A brown recluse bite has few to no symptoms, and most individuals experience mild reactions. If a skin reaction does occur, the area may become red and swollen.
If necrosis does occur, the area around the bite will begin to turn purple and a bulls-eye lesion will form. It may take several weeks for the area to heal fully and can leave a pit of scar tissue.
Children and the elderly are more susceptible to the venom, and it is recommended that they see a doctor right away. A healthy adult should be able to treat the bite at home and recover. However, if the bite does not get better after a few days, consult with your doctor.
- Commonly Found: According to the University of California, Riverside, brown recluse spiders are commonly found in the south and central United States.
- If you live in the West, Southwest, or Northeast regions, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. Brown recluse spiders (especially the males) are known for their hitchhiking skills. Since they do not “balloon,” this species relies on humans to carry them to their next destination. Most buildings become infested with brown recluse spiders after the spider hitchhiked their way on furniture, boxes, and other items into your house.
- Color: Tan to dark brown coloring
- Markings: The best way to identify the brown recluse spider is the trademark fiddle or violin design on the top of the carapace and immediately behind the eyes. The design will be darker than the rest of the body and develops as the spider ages; the design will not be present in young brown recluse spiders. They also have no distinguishing spines or bands on their legs like many other spiders.
- If you’re brave enough to get close enough, another useful way to identify a brown recluse Spider is the number and arrangement of its eyes. A brown recluse spider only has six eyes and they are arranged into three pairs.
- Ideal Habitat: Homeowners are likely to find a brown recluse spider in undisturbed areas of their house. Storage areas provide plenty of hiding spaces for these solitary creatures; hiding in boxes, dark crevices, underneath tables and chairs, and rarely-used bed sheets are all common areas you’ll find these arachnids. Outside, brown recluse spiders are typically found in woodpiles, utility boxes or under tree bark and rocks.
- Diet: The brown recluse spider prefers small live prey. Their diet mainly consists of cockroaches and crickets.
Generally, black widows are not an aggressive spider; they tend to keep to themselves and only bite when disturbed. While a bite from a male black widow isn’t anything to be worried about, a bite from a female could result in less than favorable conditions and a possible hospital trip.
Spider bite victims have said the bite feels like a pinprick and within a few minutes, nausea, severe pain in the abdomen and back, and muscle aches are exhibited.
Luckily, most black widow bites are not fatal and victims can receive black widow antivenom to help minimize the symptoms.
- Commonly Found: Black widows are more common in the Southern region of the United States, due to the warm climate and geography of the land. Widows prefer warmer temperatures, but they prefer to stay away from cities and urban areas as the regular crowds of people tend to interrupt their secluded lifestyle.
- However, there are several different species of widow spiders and depending on where you live determines which of these arachnids you’ll encounter.
- Color: Despite their name, not all widow spiders are black. Typically, the three most common adult female black widows are a shiny black color, but male widows and adolescent females are generally gray or brown in color.
- Markings: Female widows have a red “hourglass” shaped marking on the underside of their abdomen(although in some cases it can be more of an orange-yellow color). The marking will depend on which species of widow spider. The northern black widow the hourglass is separated into two red spots; the southern black widow has a single red hourglass-shaped mark.
- However, it is common to find black widow spiders with no hourglass markings; instead, they will have smaller red spots near the tip of their abdomen or a line of red spots on the top side of the abdomen. Northern widows are even known to have white streaks on either side of their abdomen.
- Ideal Habitat: Widow spiders tend to build their webs in dark sheltered spots; these shy spiders tend to hunt at night and prefer to remain in their web during the day. Homeowners can expect to find a widow’s nest spiders in their house in places that are quiet and don’t see much foot traffic such as basements, sheds, garages, attics, crawl spaces, air vents, or even unused shoes.
- Diet: A black widow’s diet mainly consists of flies, mosquitoes, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, and on occasion other spiders.
How to Prevent Spiders in Your House
Spider infestations are often a result of an underlying pest problem — most spiders do not seek out people’s home but are simply looking for their next meal. A home with an ant, termite, or even mosquito problem makes for an excellent food source.
While having the occasional spider in the house can be a good thing. Most people don’t want to share their bedroom with a wolf spider. Fortunately, there are several ways homeowners can help reduce the number of spiders in their home.
The majority of spiders on this list are shy and solitary creatures, so it’s likely they have found a low-traffic area of your house to hide out. A basement or attic is prime real-estate for an arachnid. Using a broom or duster, look for webs and knock them down. You may need to do this every few weeks. Eventually, the spider should get the hint that they are not welcome and will relocate somewhere else. If needed, do a sweep of the entire house and knock down any webs you find.
A messy home is a haven for all kinds of pests. Leaving plates of uneaten food on the counter, rotten food in the garbage, and crumbs left on the floor is going to invite flies, cockroaches, ants, and even rodents into your home — a buffet for spiders. To keep spiders out of your home, you’ll need to cut off their food supply. It’s important for homeowners to keep their home as decluttered and sanitary as possible. If there are no pests in the house, the spider will have to go elsewhere for his meals.
Spiders love to hide out in the underbrush and anything that resembles it will attract them. Stagnant piles of leaves, compost, and lawn shavings near the home are extremely inviting to a spider and bring them that much closer to entering your home. Simply move the piles away from the house and the spiders should follow.
When to Contact a Pest Professional to Remove Spiders
If you notice a significant increase in spider activity around your home, its best to call a pest professional who can inspect your property and identify what might be contributing to your infestation, talk with neighbors and see which company they recommend or read customer reviews to find a reliable, affordable, and trustworthy pest control company.