Desidae Spider: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell

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The Desidae spider family is a fascinating group of arachnids that can be found across the world. These eight-legged creatures have unique features and behaviors that make them stand out among other spider species. In this article, we will explore some interesting facts about Desidae spiders and provide helpful insights into what makes them so intriguing.

Desidae spiders are known for their diverse range of habitats, which includes forests, grasslands, and even urban environments. They can be found in regions such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and South America. Some examples of Desidae spiders you might encounter are the Grey House Spider and the Black House Spider. These species are commonly found in and around human homes, making them a frequent topic of interest for homeowners and arachnid enthusiasts alike.

One notable feature of Desidae spiders is their hunting style. Rather than relying on webs to capture prey, many species within this family are active hunters. They use their excellent vision and agility to stalk and catch their prey, which mainly consists of small insects. This sets them apart from other spider families that primarily rely on web-based hunting strategies.

Desidae Spider Overview

Family and Classification

The Desidae spider family belongs to the class Araneomorphae, suborder Araneomorphae, and order Araneae. The spiders in this family are commonly found in Australia and New Zealand.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Suborder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Desidae

Taxonomic Hierarchy

A quick overview of the Desidae spider’s taxonomical hierarchy:

Taxonomic Rank Taxon
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Arthropoda
Class Arachnida
Order Araneae
Suborder Araneomorphae
Family Desidae

There are several species and genera in the Desidae family, some of which have been discovered as early as in 1867. While the majority of these spiders are found in Australia and New Zealand, some species have also been reported in the United States.

Common features of Desidae spiders:

  • Part of the Araneomorphae class, which are web-weaving spiders
  • Mostly native to Australia, New Zealand, and some parts of the United States

Desidae spiders showcase a diverse range of characteristics due to their numerous species. Their features include:

  • Different sizes and appearances
  • Habitat preferences
  • Various hunting and foraging behaviors

To illustrate the differences between some of the species under the Desidae family, here’s a comparison table for three common species:

| Species | Size | Habitat | Hunting Strategy|
| A | Small | Forests | Ambush |
| B | Medium | Grasslands | Active Hunting |
| C | Large | Coastal Areas | Web-based Trapping |

While this overview provides a brief understanding of the Desidae spider family, it’s essential to explore each species individually for a more in-depth insight into their unique features, habitats, and behaviors.

Desidae Spider Habitat

Geographic Distribution

Desidae spiders, also known as intertidal spiders, have a widespread distribution across various regions. Here are some examples of their locations:

  • South America: Argentina
  • North America: Canada, California, Florida, and Louisiana
  • Australasia


These spiders are known to be intertidal creatures, as they are often found in areas with close proximity to water. Some of the environmental features that characterize their habitat include:

  • Prefer regions close to water sources
  • Adapt to various climates, such as tropical (Florida) and temperate (Canada)


Desidae spiders exhibit unique lifestyle traits that set them apart from other spider species:

  • Most active from April to November, with heightened activity in July
  • Construct tube-like webs between rocks and other water-suitable structures

One notable species within the Desidae family is the Desis bobmarleyi. This particular spider shares similar habitats and characteristics with its family members.

Feature Desidae Spiders Desis bobmarleyi
Distribution South America, North America, Australasia Same as Desidae spiders
Environment Close to water, various climates Similar preferences
Lifestyle Active April-November Shares similar activity patterns

In summary, Desidae spiders have versatile habitats, thriving close to water sources and adapting to various climates. Their wide geographic distribution and unique lifestyle make them an intriguing subject within the spider family.

Physical Characteristics

Color and Size

Desidae spiders, specifically the Badumna genus, can be found in various shades of brown, sometimes with a hint of red. This coloration helps them blend into their natural habitat. The female Badumna longinqua and the male Metaltella simoni are common examples of this family. These spiders vary in size, with some species reaching up to 2 cm in length. For instance:

  • Badumna longinqua: 1-2 cm
  • Metaltella simoni: 0.5-1.5 cm

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexual dimorphism is evident in Desidae spiders, with males and females displaying distinct physical traits. In general, females tend to be larger and have more robust bodies, while males have more slender bodies. Additionally, males often have longer legs in proportion to their bodies.


  • Female Badumna longinqua: larger body size
  • Male Metaltella simoni: slender body and long legs

Venomous or Harmless

Desidae spiders are mostly harmless to humans. Their venom is not considered medically significant, and bites from these spiders usually result in mild symptoms, if any. However, it’s essential to exercise caution, as arthropods like these can still pose a risk if mishandled or threatened.

Comparison Table:

Spider Species Venomous Harmless
Badumna longinqua No Yes
Metaltella simoni No Yes

Note: The information provided is not exhaustive and focuses on providing brief descriptions of the physical characteristics of Desidae spiders.

Unique Behavioral Traits

Web Construction

Desidae spiders, commonly known as jumping spiders, have a different web construction than other spider families. Their webs:

  • Are not used for catching prey
  • Act as a retreat for resting and molting

For example, Phidippus audax, a species of Desidae spider, creates a web as a safe haven rather than a trap for insects.

Air Bubble Preservation

Another fascinating trait of Desidae spiders is their ability to preserve air bubbles. They utilize this skill in various ways:

  • To survive underwater
  • To create an oxygen supply while hunting

Some Desidae spiders trap air bubbles using their silk to maintain an oxygen supply as they hunt aquatic prey. This unique adaptation allows them to hunt in otherwise uninhabitable environments.

Pros and Cons of Desidae Spider Behaviors

Pros Cons
Unique hunting strategy Limited to certain environments
Ability to survive underwater Dependency on air bubbles
Adaptability Greater energy expenditure

In summary, Desidae spiders have unique behavioral traits, such as their distinct web construction and air bubble preservation, allowing them to adapt and survive in various environments.

Notable Species

Gray House Spider

The Gray House Spider (Badumna longinqua), also known as the Grey House Spider, is a member of the Desidae family. This spider is commonly found in urban environments, where it builds messy, irregular webs. Some key features include:

  • Color: Gray or brown
  • Size: 8-18mm long
  • Habitat: Common in homes, sheds, and fences

Despite their menacing appearance, Gray House Spiders are not considered dangerous to humans. Their bite may cause minor discomfort, but generally does not lead to significant medical concerns. However, it is still important to exercise caution when dealing with any spider.

Desis Bobmarleyi

Desis Bobmarleyi is a unique spider species within the Desidae family, named in honor of musician Bob Marley. This spider is particularly interesting due to its:

  • Habitat: Marine environment (coral reefs)
  • Appearance: Brightly colored with red, orange, and blue legs

Desis Bobmarleyi exhibits extraordinary adaptation features, including the ability to survive underwater by constructing air chambers from silk. While submerged, these spiders prey on small marine creatures.

Aspect Gray House Spider Desis Bobmarleyi
Color Gray or brown Brightly colored (red, orange, blue)
Size 8-18mm long Small body size, colorful legs
Habitat Urban areas (houses, fences, sheds) Marine environments (coral reefs)
Danger to Humans Minor discomfort (rarely bites) No known danger to humans

Both Gray House Spiders and Desis Bobmarleyi are fascinating examples of spider species within the Desidae family. Each showcases unique characteristics and adaptations that make them well-suited to their respective habitats.

Interaction with Humans

Sightings Overview

Desidae spiders, also known as intertidal spiders, can often be spotted by those who spend time outdoors. They have been sighted by many [spider ID members] in various environments. Some typical sightings locations include:

  • Man-made structures
  • Low foliage
  • Ground layer

These spiders interact with humans mainly when their habitats overlap. They are not generally known to be aggressive toward humans or pose any significant threat.

Location and Range

Desidae spiders can be found in a wide range of locations, from Hawaii to Oregon. Their range is not limited to these areas, but sightings are more common in these regions. Seasonality plays a role in the frequency of encounters:

Month Sightings
January Low
February Low
March Moderate
June Moderate
August High
September High
October Moderate
December Low

Desidae spiders are more active during specific months, likely due to factors like climate and prey availability. Human encounters in areas within their range can vary depending on these factors.

Resources and Further Information

Need help in identifying Desidae spiders? No problem! Images are readily available from various sources like

Desidae spiders fall under the arachnid category in the taxonomy world. Their classification follows this structure:

  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Infraorder: Araneomorphae

Sightings of these spiders have been recorded in regions like Europe and South Africa.

Notable characteristics of Desidae spiders include:

  • Living in barnacle shells
  • Being invertebrates

Some features that help identify Desidae spiders are:

  • Thick, compact build
  • Exceptional climbers

A comparison table between Desidae and other spider families could be useful. For instance, compare their size, habitat, and distribution.

Spider Family Average Size Habitat Distribution
Desidae Small Barnacle shells Europe & South Africa
Other spider family Varies Varies Varies

Remember, avoiding exaggerated or false claims is essential. Stick to verified information to ensure accuracy.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Desidae Spider


Subject:  Possible false wolf spider
Geographic location of the bug:  Oxnard, CA
Date: 02/27/2018
Time: 10:39 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found this pretty spider sitting on the top of an outdoor table after cleaning the umbrella above it of cobwebs. It probably fell from the umbrella. Maybe it was hunting for webspinners and not in a web. I didn’t see where it came from. The legs were a dark redish color in the darker parts (not black like in the picture). It was about half an inch in body length and moved very slowly.
How you want your letter signed:  Curious homeowner

Unknown Spider

Dear Curious homeowner,
We are posting your submission as unidentified and we will attempt a species identification soon.

Update:  Moments after posting, we received a comment from Sean McCann “I think it may well be Badumna longinqua, an introduced desid spider” and upon researching BugGuide which states “In North America, known only from coastal urban areas of California,” we are in agreement.  We had no category for this introduced species from Australia, so we added a Desidae subcategory for this family.


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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