Essential Facts About the Hacklemesh Weaver Spider

Hacklemesh Weaver spiders are fascinating creatures that may often be found around homes and buildings. These spiders, scientifically known as Amaurobiidae, are known for their distinct webs and unique behaviors. There’s a lot to discover about these intriguing arachnids, and this article aims to provide you with essential information about Hacklemesh Weavers.

These spiders can be commonly found in nesting habitats around properties, such as cracks and crevices on the exterior of buildings. To prevent them from entering your home, consider sealing gaps, installing tight-fitting door sweeps, and placing screens on windows. It is also helpful to minimize their food source by reducing insects in the area, using methods such as pest monitors or sticky traps 1.

In addition to their habitat preferences, Hacklemesh Weavers have fascinating lifecycles. For instance, male spiders overwinter as immatures, molt twice in spring, and become adults around April. After mating, they die. On the other hand, female spiders can be found during all seasons, suggesting they live for at least two years. These females lay their egg sacs in similar locations to where they’re found, often within their webs 2.

Hacklemesh Weaver Overview

Family Amaurobiidae

Hacklemesh weavers belong to the family Amaurobiidae. This family contains various species of spiders which share some common traits, including:

  • Short, sturdy legs
  • Oval, robust abdomen
  • Dense, hackled hairs on the body

Genus and Species

The Hacklemesh weaver is scientifically named Amaurobius ferox. There are also other species within the Amaurobius genus, such as Amaurobius similis and Amaurobius fenestralis.

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Here is the classification of the Hacklemesh Weaver:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Family: Amaurobiidae
  • Genus: Amaurobius
  • Species: Amaurobius ferox

The order Araneae classifies all spiders, while the class Arachnida includes other arthropods such as scorpions and ticks.

Comparison Table:

Common Name Class Order Family Genus Species
Hacklemesh Weaver Arachnida Araneae Amaurobiidae Amaurobius Amaurobius ferox
Common House Spider Arachnida Araneae Theridiidae Parasteatoda Parasteatoda tepidariorum

The Hacklemesh Weaver shares the same class, order, and family with many other spiders. However, its genus and species set it apart from other common spiders like the Common House Spider.

Physical Characteristics

Color and Size

Hacklemesh weavers are generally small to medium-sized spiders. They typically have a tan-colored abdomen and gray cephalothorax, which may sometimes appear with a pinkish flesh color. Here are some features of their appearance:

  • Tan abdomen
  • Gray cephalothorax
  • Sometimes pinkish flesh color

Male vs Female

When comparing male and female hacklemesh weavers, there are some differences in size and appearance. To give you an idea, let’s look at a comparison table:

Feature Male Female
Size Smaller Larger
Abdomen Narrower Wider
Legs Longer and thinner Shorter and thicker

For example, male hacklemesh weavers typically have longer and thinner legs compared to the females. Apart from these differences, both male and female spiders share the same colors and general appearance.

Habitat and Range

Geographical Locations

Hacklemesh weavers are found throughout various regions in North America, spanning from California to the southern and eastern United States, such as Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina12. They can also be seen in some parts of Canada1.

Natural Environment

These spiders prefer environments with:

  • Rocks
  • Leaf litter
  • Stones
  • Woodpiles
  • Logs
  • Tree bark2

They can be found in habitats like:

  • Grasslands
  • Forests, both in high foliage and ground layer
  • Under rocks or debris12

Urban Environment

Interestingly, Hacklemesh weavers have also adapted to urban environments, where they can be found nesting in:

  • Basements, particularly damp basements2
  • Man-made structures2

In the spring months of April and May, these spiders are more likely to be seen as they venture out in search of mates1.

Pros of urban environments:

  • Abundance of insects
  • Shelter from predators

Cons of urban environments:

  • Human disturbance
  • Limited natural hiding spaces

Comparison table of natural vs. urban environments:

Environment Examples of suitable spots Pros Cons
Natural Rocks, leaf litter, woodpiles Natural hiding spaces More predators
Urban Basements, man-made structures Abundance of insects Human disturbance

Behavior and Lifestyle

Diet and Prey

Hacklemesh weavers (Amaurobius species) are carnivorous spiders that mainly feed on small insects. Some typical examples of their prey include:

  • Flies
  • Mosquitoes
  • Moths

These spiders use their chelicerae, or fangs, to inject venom and immobilize their prey.

Weaving Webs

Hacklemesh weavers belong to the group of cribellate spiders, which means they produce a unique type of web. These webs can be best described as a tangled nest, consisting of:

  • Irregular strings of silk
  • A tube retreat for the spider to hide

The tube retreat, typically found at the edge of their webs, offers the spider a secure hiding spot.

Mating Habits

The mating habits of hacklemesh weaver spiders are specific. Key points in their mating process include:

  • Males molt twice after overwintering
  • Males die after mating
  • Females can live for at least two years
  • Females lay egg sacs in the same location as their webs source

In summary, the behavior and lifestyle of hacklemesh weaver spiders revolve around their diet, web weaving, and mating habits. Their existence in diverse environments and unique techniques in searching for prey make them fascinating creatures to study.

Venom and Bites

Comparison to Other Spiders

Hacklemesh weaver spiders (Callobius sp.) are generally not venomous. They pose a low risk compared to other dangerous spiders like the brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa).

Comparison table:

Spider Venomous Pain Level Seriousness
Hacklemesh Weaver No Low Low Risk
Brown Recluse Yes High High Risk

Pros of Hacklemesh Weaver:

  • Non-threatening to humans
  • Low-risk bites

Cons of Hacklemesh Weaver:

  • May cause mild irritation

Symptoms and Effects

In the rare cases where a hacklemesh weaver spider bites, the symptoms and effects are usually mild. A bite might lead to:

  • Localized pain
  • Redness
  • Swelling

These side effects should subside on their own, but if you notice severe symptoms like nausea or difficulty breathing, seeking medical help is essential. Keep in mind that these severe symptoms are usually not associated with hacklemesh weaver bites.

Other Interesting Facts

Similar Species

  • Hacklemesh weavers (Amaurobiidae) can be compared to some other spider species like the Metaltella simoni and the Southern house spider (Kukulcania hibernalis).
  • These spiders share some physical similarities, but with noticeable differences:
    • Hacklemesh weavers have a tan, brown, or grayish coloration, while Metaltella simoni usually displays darker shades and Southern house spiders have a dark brown or black color.
    • Hacklemesh weavers are typically found in North America, while Metaltella simoni and Southern house spiders have a more expansive geographic range.
Feature Hacklemesh Weaver Metaltella Simoni Southern House Spider
Color Tan, Brown, or Gray Darker Shades Dark Brown or Black
Geographic Range North America Wider Range Wider Range

Scientific Classification

  • The scientific classification for Hacklemesh weavers is as follows:
    • Kingdom: Animalia
    • Phylum: Arthropoda
    • Class: Arachnida
    • Order: Araneae
    • Suborder: Araneomorphae
    • Family: Amaurobiidae

On a final note, Hacklemesh weavers’ common name, “night spiders,” comes from their nocturnal habits. They are not harmful to humans and contribute to controlling insect populations.

Footnotes

  1. Hacklemesh Weaver Spiders – Penn State Extension 2 3 4
  2. Hacklemesh Weaver Spiders – School IPM – USU Extension 2 3 4 5

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com 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 – Definitely One of the Worst Bug Stories Ever: Hacklemesh Weaver falsly accused!!!

 

Parasidic spider lays its eggs on my head
December 18, 2009
It started with my hair line being covered in brown sticky goo. And my hair, which was down to my waste, was being rolled around and egg or eggs and then tightly ‘glued’ to my scalp. I would touch the back of my head and the hair seemed gone and it felt like alligator armored skin. And It looked frosted like a flocked tree. I would keep pulling the hair back down from my head though it usually just broke off. What did not break was eventually chewed off for egg nesting elsewhere in my home. 6 months ago this started. I am between bald and crew cut now as I pack to escape the horrors and pain of having my head used as a nursery My poor dog also. her wrinkles were filled with eggs and her ears filled with the hard brown cocoon material. Almost like wasp nests. First t he millions of minute eggs, then the larva iand finally, a container/pod that hardens while half embedded in my scalp. Then they would hatch There larva could be removed so eventually I would be raking my head with my nails to pulled the small bugs out of my scalp. It’s like popcorn kernels Sharp and painful. .I would be rid of them maybe a week and then I would wake up egged again. A living night mare this has been. I am now getting what i absolutely need and escaping my trailer in the dead of winter and can not even see family for Christmas because every seem, crease, nook and cranny in this trailer is filled with millions of eggs and larva. I am terrified of Iinfecting family or friends am disabled, My SSDI pay has been drastically cut so this is a major thing. There is no getting another trailer or house. I am now soon to be homeless and I pray that I can escape this plague of spiders by boarding my dog at the vets for a week so that we have a chance of being rid of t his parasite. I have never in my life seen such foulness from a spi der.

Spider:  possibly Amaurobiidae species
Spider: possibly Amaurobiidae species

Brown stickiness every where and larva has replaced my insulation. In the last 6 months I have been treated for lice, then thy said scabies, then they said i must be on drugs and seeing things. from across the room mind you. I had been up in Washington photographing the rain forests there just before this all started. But I also live on the coast in the redwoods of California. I don’t know where it has come from but I would like to know what it is that is driving me from my home out into the cold wet winter. And if I have a chance of maybe coming back in a month or two should they die out or leave with out there favorite host. Or should I have the trailer burned and warn neighbors that vicious woman biting, hair eating, life stealing spiders are on the loose? I understand you are busy, but I will check often for a reply at the library so that I know what I am dealing with here. So far, not even bombing the house has fazed them. I found a few dead but it only slowed thing s down a bit. Will I ever escape this nightmare? I need to know if I can, how long should I leave all my clothes and electronics in storage? What can be done for my dog?
Advantage and flea shampoo has not helped at all. I am sorry I can not donate anything or the help i am asking for, this whole experience has devastated me physically, mentally, and financially. I would be grateful for anyone’s help in this nightmare…Thank you.
Spider Woman
Del Norte County, California Redwood coast

Spider:  possibly Amaurobiidae species
Possibly Hacklemesh Weaver

Dear Spider Woman,
While we sympathize with many of the symptoms you have so chillingly described in your letter, we would like to try to exonerate the spider that is the alleged culprit.  Spiders do not have larvae, they have spiderlings that look exactly like the adults, but in miniature.  We contacted Eric Eaton who said this about your images:  “I think the spiders are something in the family Amaurobiidae, which can certainly make their homes in ours, but usually on the exterior of buildings.  I have never, ever,  heard of a legitimate case of them residing in someone’s hair.  They also do not lay millions of eggs, just strewn about…..  The image of the “larvae” in the dog’s ear just looks like wax to me.
”  Spiders in the family Amaurobiidae are known as Hacklemesh Weavers according to BugGuide, and Wikipedia also uses the names Tangled Nest Spiders and Night Spiders.  Spiders are not parasites, and we do not believe the spiders are connected to your health crisis.  We have no idea what the brown sticky goo might be.  We are just amateurs and we are not qualified to give any professional health advice.  We would recommend that you post a comment to your posting and you will be notified if any of our readers have suggestions.  We believe you need to seek some professional help.

Dod's Ear

Letter 2 – Hacklemesh Weaver from Canada

 

Subject: Can you help name this spider?
Location: Hamilton, ON Canada
October 19, 2015 6:26 am
Hello,
I live is southern Ontario Canada and this fall we were tearing down our shed and found a nest of about 50 of these. I’ve never seen a spider like this before. Wondering if it’s something I should be concerned about?
Thank you so much!!
Signature: Sarah Keddy

Hacklemesh Weaver
Hacklemesh Weaver

Dear Sarah,
We believe we have correctly identified your spider as an introduced Hacklemesh Weaver with no common name,
Amaurobius ferox, based on this image posted to BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Range Mostly established in southeastern Canada and the eastern USA so far. However, there may be relatively recent populations in WA (King County) and CO.
Habitat A synanthropic species; found associated with humans and man-made structures.
Remarks This species is native to Europe; its first Nearctic record was from Providence, Rhode Island, November 8, 1871.”

Letter 3 – Bug of the Month February 2016: Hacklemesh Weaver takes a walk on the snow in Connecticut

 

Subject: Snowy recluse?
Location: Stratford, Connecticut
January 30, 2016 7:48 pm
I snapped this picture while dog walking last week. I was surprised to see a spider crawling across the snow. Is it a brown recluse?
Signature: Karen

Hacklemesh Weaver in the Snow
Hacklemesh Weaver in the Snow

Dear Karen,
We are going to go out on a limb and say that this Spider walking on the snow is an unusual sighting.  The pronounced pedipalps indicate your spider is a male and the large mandibles made our identification relatively easy.  The Spiders of Connecticut site has a good image of a male Hacklemesh Weaver,
Amaurobius feros, that looks like a very close match to your spider.  The site states:  “Native to Europe, it has become established in southeastern Canada and the eastern U.S., though is not limited to those regions. This robust spider is common in and around homes, but also lives under rocks, logs, in leaf litter, and other dark, humid places. Adult males are notorious for wandering in the spring.”  BugGuide also has a good matching image and the information page on BugGuide provides the common name Black Lace Weaver and states:  “A synanthropic species; found associated with humans and man-made structures.”  Spiders.Us provides this life cycle information:  “For this nocturnal spider, mating seems to take place mostly in the spring, but sometimes also in the fall. However, because this species seems to have a lifespan of 2 years or more, it is possible to find sexually mature specimens year-round, so mating may take place at any time really. Egg laying seems to happen mainly in the early summer. The female deposits eggs into a lens-shaped, silken sac about 7-15mm in diameter. Each sac can have anywhere from 60-180 individual eggs inside and it takes about 3-4 weeks before the spiderlings emerge. She stands guard over them that entire time.  Interestingly, this species is matriphagous, which means the mother sacrifices herself as food for her spiderlings. This happens a day or two after their first molt, which is roughly one week from their emergence from the egg sac. This species is considered ‘subsocial’ because, after cannibalizing their mother, the spiderlings remain together and feed communally for about a month. They overwinter in their immature stage, and most overwinter once again in their adult form.”  Our favorite bit of trivia also comes from Spiders.Us:  “Cloudsley-Thompson (1955) mentions that, in England, Amaurobius ferox is sometimes called the ‘Old Churchman’ because it can be seen scurrying around on the walls and pews of old churches before rain storms.” 

Awesome Daniel!  Thanks for the ID and the info about him.  I’ve been a fan of the site for many years and this is my first “bug of the month”, very cool!  Happy (early) spring!
Karen in CT

Letter 4 – Hacklemesh Weaver Spider

 

Subject: Spider Identification
Location: Humboldt County California
October 14, 2013 12:00 am
Please help me identify this spider I’m curious as to how dangerous it may be as well
Signature: Cheyanne

Unknown Spider
Hacklemesh Weaver Spider

Hi Cheyanne,
We are continuing to research this and we have requested assistance.  Could you please provide additional information?  How large was the spider?  Where exactly was it found?  Any other helpful information is appreciated.
Thanks.

Eric Eaton responds:  Hacklemesh Weaver
Daniel:
Pretty sure this is a specimen of a hacklemesh weaver known as Metaltella simoni:
http://www.spiders.us/species/metaltella-simoni/
Please suggest that the person submit their image to Spiders.us (not sure how exactly to do that, sorry).
Eric

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com 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.

  • 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.

17 thoughts on “Essential Facts About the Hacklemesh Weaver Spider”

  1. I am not a bug expert, I just enjoy them. But I have been a veterinary technician for 17 years. I have never seen any kind of spider infestation on a living pet. Mites, such as sarcoptic (scabies) and demodectic mange can infest pets, but the eggs and adults are not visible to the naked eye. The dog ear picture also looks like debris from a yeast/bacterial infection. I’m not sure what you could do on the human side, but if you are concerned, you could ask your vet to do a skin biopsy of the affected area of the dog. It only requires a small sample and a lab can disect the sample to find any microscopic insects living on your pet. As far as treating the dog, I would try Revolution topical instead of Advantage, as it is labled to treat skin mites in dogs and cats. Good luck.

    Reply
  2. it is hard to hear a story like that but perhaps she should look into the posibility of Morgellons disease or delusional parasitosis.
    Details of delusional parasitosis vary among sufferers, but is most commonly described as involving perceived parasites crawling upon or burrowing into the skin, sometimes accompanied by an actual physical sensation Sufferers may injure themselves in attempts to be rid of the “parasites.”
    Nearly any marking upon the skin, or small object or particle found on the person or their clothing, can be interpreted as evidence for the parasitic infestation, and sufferers commonly compulsively gather such “evidence” and then present it to medical professionals when seeking help

    Reply
  3. It sounds like fleas or mites to me. Spiders dont like to stick around humans. If u are indeed finding them everywhere, perhaps they are there hunting and feeding on whatever is plaguing you. Wrap a scarf around ur hair at night.

    Reply
  4. I have the same horrifying nightmare. I’ve been a nurse for over 35 yrs, yet I can not get help either. In addition to devastation, losing jobs and endless nights of sleep, and photographs showing the goo and hair entanglement , I only get the ” lady , you are crazy !! look , before I move on to,a new doctor. I think it may have started with a MRSA on my
    Scalp( misdiagnosed for years ) , then itching , then opportunistic fungal infection from topical cortisones and then prednisone for back injury. It took mos to get a fungal culture because “only kids get tinea capitus”. the bacteria and fungus become so bountiful that it attracts insects who feed and lie eggs in the goo, like fleas, mosquitoes, and gnats. Larger insects like nematodes then go to feed on those insects until you have a mini ecosystem in your head. Losing hair is inevitable , then comes wig- worse itching , inability to focus on anything due to intense itching. Worst of all as your life goes down the tubes , no one, not even colleagues or family believes you. Very demoralizing. I’m sorry for your pain. tea tree oil impregnated petroleum jelly or sulfa Vaseline helps. The only thing I’ve found that’s gets the hair unstuck From goo in scalp, believe it or not, is Goo be Gone!

    Reply
    • I am dealing with the same exact thing their all over mine and my husbands scalp, and my carpet is full of them. I’ve been to 10 different doctors no-one knows please tell me u have found what kills them.

      Reply
  5. No she is not crazy ! This too is happened to me i! Please read all material on Morgellons! I don’t know what or why but I do know your not alone .

    Reply
  6. This is so crazy coincidence because i have the same issues you do and I have those brown spiders all over my house! I’ve been treating this myself for Morgellons since I cannot find any doctors that will help and I have seen 6! My hair and scalp are the biggest issues i have eggs and small larvae that seem like tiny caterpillars and they live under my scalp (raised skin) and other creatures that live on the follicle and its not dermadex. I hear them scratching around in my head and I recently had a outbreak in my ear and tiny larvae is living under earlobe and ear canal, and peroxide is causing the some damage, but doesn’t kill all of them. Recently I stumbled on the “velvet worm” in my research and it kinds of resembles the gooey glue that come from my scalp and the larvae. My hair also has white piedra and trichosporon so its a mess and I refuse to shave it all off so I could really use some advice if anyone can help?

    Reply
  7. Noxzema, Kleen Green, Nizoral, apple cider vinegar.., peppermint, tea tree

    Also I made up a recipe that seems to help: milk, sea salt, lemon, nutmeg. Use as a mask leave it in for awhile.

    Reply
  8. I forgot to mention the main herb that really helps: olive leaf you get a powder capsule and pour the powder on the head or on sore and wet it and it will draw up the creature. I put it on skin and scalp

    Reply
  9. I been going thru this since May started with lice from a child then to what I think are carpet beetles due to new cheap carpets put in and the moth holes they leaved in clothes SLA helps but cannot kill them. they must be surgically removed they are down beneth 2 skin layers but the ER only wants more meds. I don’t know how much longer I can take it I am losing it and you can see it so no BS about hallucinations. I find all kind of lint in my clothes they live in when small. Please help me I too have tried it all and nothing is working it stops in one spot starts in another. I live across from a cemetary we are moving out to a not so good are but if its a chance we will take it. I didn’t even look at the 3 labs yet I am afraid too.

    Reply
  10. I believe I know why you are finding the massive number of spiders in your home and I’d like to offer up an extremely viable diagnosis of the rest of your issue. . I too had a three month issue with spiders before I could get the maintenance company to exterminate. Once they did, the spiders were gone however my apartment had two large trees abutting my unit which the owner refused to prune for nearly 3 years . Eventually the trees overflowed and I was faced with a massively infested apartment. I had stick bugs, carpet beetles, brown beetles, termites, mites, spider mites, you name it.

    During that same time I was finding thin white strands of goop everywhere. Along with balls of fluff on and in everything, I found eggs, odd brown squares of what appeared to be fused bugs. I went to multiple doctors who treated me with the upmost of disdain. I began collecting samples over one year ago and whatever those brown things were seemed to have laid eggs in my head hair. Samples were sent to two hospital laboratories and the CDC to which i was advised that it seems Silverfish had made a home in my head hair. Unfortunately I have tried everything to get them out to no avail. So if anyone knows how to get these darn bugs out please enlighten me!!

    Reply

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