Tangle Web Spider: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell

Tangle web spiders are a fascinating group of spiders that you might come across in various habitats. Unlike the more symmetrical orb web spiders, tangle web spiders create irregular, messy-looking webs to catch their prey. These webs, often called “cobwebs,” are constructed with a mix of sticky and non-sticky silk to entrap unsuspecting insects.

You’ll find tangle web spiders in many different families, such as Theridiidae, which includes the well-known black widow spider. These small to medium-sized spiders typically feature a combination of vibrant colors and intricate patterns, making them an exciting subject for naturalists and photographers alike.

As you delve deeper into the world of tangle web spiders, you’ll discover the unique behaviors, biology, and characteristics that set them apart from other spider species. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to appreciate and understand these intriguing arachnids on your next outdoor adventure.

What is a Tangle Web Spider?

Tangle web spiders are a group of arachnids that create unique, messy-looking webs. Unlike the neat, organized patterns of orb and sheet webs, tangle web spiders create a complex, irregular structure. This helps them effectively capture their prey, which is composed of various insects flying or crawling nearby.

To understand why tangle web spiders construct such seemingly chaotic designs, it’s important to note their primary objective: trapping prey. As a result of their web structure, tangle web spiders are able to catch various types of insects, adjusting their web according to the prey capture rate and prey type1.

Some key features of tangle web spiders include:

  • Inefficient use of silk: The construction of a tangled web requires more silk than an orb web or a sheet web, meaning the spider must expend more energy and resources in its construction.
  • Versatility: Tangle web spiders enjoy a higher prey capture rate due to the web’s ability to ensnare a wide variety of insects.
  • Adaptability: Spiders in this group are capable of adjusting their web according to their environment and the availability of prey.

In summary, tangle web spiders create intricate and seemingly disorganized webs to effectively capture a wide range of prey. Their unique web structure sets them apart from other spider groups and demonstrates their ability to adapt to different environments.

Distinguishing Features

Physiology

The Tangle Web Spider has unique physical characteristics that make it stand out. For instance, the setae on its body and legs help in sensing vibrations. The spider also displays diverse genital plates among different morphs and varieties. Some Tangle Web Spiders even exhibit a unique color pattern on their abdomen, such as yellow body with grinning clown face or smiley face markings.

Web and Silk Features

Tangle Web Spiders create intricate webs using different types of silk. They utilize:

  • Woolly silk: to line their retreats
  • Sticky capture silk: captures prey
  • Silk pulley: enables movement through the web

These webs can have distinct structures, depending on the spider variety. Here’s a comparison table of web features among Tangle Web Spiders:

Spider Variety Web Structure
Widow Spiders Irregular, 3D shape
Comb-footed Spiders Triangular
Hawaiian Theridion grallator Sheet-like

Venom

While Tangle Web Spiders do have venom, most varieties are harmless to humans, with a few exceptions like the Widow Spiders (such as the infamous Black Widow). Their venom consists of proteins and enzymes that help immobilize and digest their prey.

Varieties of Tangle Web Spiders

Different Tangle Web Spider varieties possess unique features, such as:

  • Steatoda: Commonly known as the false black widow, this spider is often mistaken for its more dangerous relative.
  • Steatoda triangulosa: Recognized by its triangular markings, this species favors indoor environments and is less harmful to humans.
  • Widow Spiders: These spiders contain potentially harmful venom and are typically identified by the red hourglass marking on their abdomen.
  • Comb-footed Spiders: Sporting slightly comb-like bristles called serrula, these spiders use their web to wrap prey and deposit eggs.
  • Hawaiian Theridion grallator: Also known as the Happy Face Spider, this species is recognized for its smiley face abdomen pattern and lives exclusively in Hawaiian forests.
  • Cobweb Spiders: Representing over 200 species, cobweb spiders (part of the theridiid family) spin irregular webs using their sticky silk that remains on their hind legs.

By understanding the distinguishing features of Tangle Web Spiders, you can better appreciate these fascinating creatures and their role in our ecosystem.

Habitat and Distribution

Tangle web spiders, also known as cobweb spiders, can be found in a variety of habitats. They often prefer areas with plenty of vegetation or structures to build their webs on. In your garden, they may live among shrubs, tall grasses, or around your outdoor furniture. These spiders can also be found in forests, meadows, and even human-made structures, such as buildings and bridges.

These spiders have a wide distribution, as they’re found all around the world. While the specific species may vary, you’re likely to encounter tangle web spiders in your region. In North America, you might come across the common house spider, while in Europe, there’s the European garden spider.

Not only can these spiders help control insect populations, but they also contribute to your local ecosystem. So, next time you see a tangle web spider, remember that they are an essential part of maintaining balance in the environment you share.

Diet and Hunting Strategies

Prey and Predation

The Tangle Web Spider primarily feeds on a variety of prey, including small animals like insects or even small mammals and lizards. Some examples of their preferred prey are orange-spotted roaches and other types of cockroaches. Tangle Web Spiders can also capture larger prey compared to their body size, so they are proficient hunters.

In order to catch their prey, Tangle Web Spiders employ different hunting strategies that are both effective and unique. Depending on the spider species and their environment, they can be agile and quick hunters to capture these animals.

Unique Capture Mechanisms

Tangle Web Spiders use a combination of snares and trap doors to efficiently capture their prey. One notable technique is the use of sticky droplets on their webs, which help immobilize insects upon contact. These droplets are strategically placed along their web in a way to maximize the chances of catching prey. For tackling larger prey like lizards, some Tangle Web Spiders can use a lasso-like silk structure to secure them.

Here’s a comparison table of the capture mechanisms used by Tangle Web Spiders:

Capture Mechanism Description Pros Cons
Snares Intricately designed webs for capturing prey Effective Needs maintenance
Trap Doors Concealed entrances with trigger mechanisms Stealthy Time-consuming
Sticky Droplets Glue-like substances on webs to immobilize prey Quick immobilization Less effective on larger prey
Lassos Silk structures to secure larger prey Versatile Requires precision

By employing these unique capture mechanisms, the Tangle Web Spider can successfully hunt and consume a variety of prey, showcasing its adaptability and proficiency as a predator.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Egg Sacs and Development

Tangle web spiders create egg sacs to protect their eggs during development. Typically, these sacs are made from silk and have a spherical shape. As a spider enthusiast, you might observe these sacs hanging from the spider’s web or attached to nearby vegetation.

Inside the egg sac, the spiderlings will develop and grow. After hatching, they’ll molt several times before reaching adulthood. It’s fascinating to witness these tiny creatures transform throughout their life stages!

Sexual Biology

Tangle web spiders exhibit entelegyne, a sexual biology in which the females have two separate openings for mating and oviposition (egg-laying). This anatomical feature allows for more efficient reproduction and ensures that the spiderlings have the best chance of survival.

Sexual cannibalism is an uncommon behavior among tangle web spiders. However, it may occasionally occur, where the female devours the male during or after mating. Although this sounds brutal, it benefits the offspring by providing the female with extra nutrients for egg production.

By understanding the reproduction and life cycle of tangle web spiders, you can better appreciate these fascinating creatures and their extraordinary adaptations.

Social Behavior and Communication

Sociality

Tangle web spiders exhibit a range of social behaviors. In some species, you’ll find individuals living in complex social structures, while others prefer a more solitary lifestyle. In social species, cooperation in prey capture and sharing resources is common, leading to successful survival and reproduction.

Inbreeding

Inbreeding can occur in tangle web spider populations, particularly in those with limited dispersal abilities. As a result, you might find offspring with reduced genetic diversity, which could increase the risk of extinction. However, this also means that populations with unique traits may be more resilient against environmental changes.

Kleptoparasitic Behavior

Some tangle web spiders exhibit kleptoparasitic behavior, where they steal prey from another spider’s web. This can benefit the kleptoparasite by providing an easy meal, but can be detrimental to the original web owner who loses their hard-earned prey.

In conclusion, tangle web spiders display a variety of fascinating social behaviors and complex communication. From sociality to kleptoparasitism, these intriguing creatures offer a rich source of study for those interested in understanding their world.

Study and Research

A recent study on the Tangle Web Spider was conducted by Gabriele Greco, and the findings were published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. This research adds to our understanding of these fascinating creatures.

The Tangle Web Spider is known for its unique web-building skills. You might be interested to know that there are different types of spider webs, such as orb, sheet, and tangle webs. In this study, Gabriele Greco focused specifically on the Tangle Web Spider.

Some key findings from the research include:

  • Tangle Web Spiders use less silk in their web construction compared to other web-building spiders.
  • Their webs are more efficient in capturing prey.

Science News and Live Science, two popular platforms for scientific information, have also covered this study. Their articles, written by Mindy Weisberger, provide a detailed and comprehensible account of the research for a non-expert audience.

To summarize, this study by Gabriele Greco and the coverage by Mindy Weisberger on Science News and Live Science contributes significantly to our understanding of Tangle Web Spiders. Keep in mind that this field is constantly evolving, and more research is needed to continue expanding our knowledge about these fascinating creatures.

Impact on Ecosystems and Human Interaction

As an arthropod, the Tangle Web Spider plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of their ecosystem. They help control insect populations, serving as a natural form of pest control. Additionally, their presence benefits other animals higher up in the food chain who prey on them for sustenance.

Being model organisms, Tangle Web Spiders contribute to our understanding of arthropod biology. Researchers utilize them to study various aspects, including their behavior, physiology, and even their venom for potential therapeutic applications.

While their venom does have a clinical manifestation, it is relatively mild and non-lethal to humans. Symptoms may include localized pain, redness, and itching. However, it is important to remember that individual reactions can vary.

In summary, the Tangle Web Spider positively influences the ecosystem by regulating insect populations and serving as prey for other animals, while also providing invaluable insights for scientific research. However, caution should be exercised when handling them due to their venom’s mild clinical manifestation. So, remember to appreciate these fascinating creatures while also respecting their space in nature.

Footnotes

  1. The Capture Rate of Prey in Orb, Sheet, and Tangle Spider Webs

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 – Cobweb Spider

 

Please identify this spider.
Hi,
These pics were taken in the corner of our non-airconditioned/heated warehouse, by my window. Sometimes during the spring my window gets partially covered in web. There are at least 4 or 5, from ceiling to floor(~30ft) hanging in the same corner. It looks like the daddy long-legs family, but I can’t find a picture to identify it anywhere. Most of them have a 1/4″-1/2″ body with legs spreading from 2″-4″. Late nights, with the light on in my office is probably keeping them near-by. These same spiders are all over the warehouse along the walls and under shelving. BTW, we’re in Wilmington, NC. We mostly want assurance that they’re not dangerous, since we’re running into them all the time. Thanks!
Glen

Hi Glen,
It looks like a Cobweb Spider, Pholcus phalangioides. According to Hogue: “This strictly domestic spider is another species imported from Europe. It is the major contributor to ceiling cobwebs and is common under eaves of homes in tree shaded neighborhoods. The spider is drab gray-brown, with an elongate abdomen;…. It’s very long slender legs and small rounded body give it a superficial resemblance to a daddy long-legs. When disturbed, it gyrates wildly in its web.” They are benign spiders.

Letter 2 – Long Bodied Cellar Spider

 

Hi Bugman,
Could you help me identify this spider. We have these every year, usually from spring to fall and they seem to enjoy the bathroom more than anywhere else. Some of them are small and other very large measuring about 3 – 5 inches of leg span. They come back very quickly, it doesn’t matter how many times we remove them and clean up after them. They are back within a couple of days. Sometimes we have up to 20 at a time. They aren’t bothersome. They seem to like to use hair and thread in their webs and I never see them catch food and eat. What are they? This particular one seems to have a big ball she / he is holding onto with little bumps all over. Is that an egg sack. I have searched for many years trying to find this spider but have had no luck. We live in the Northwestern mountains of New Jersey. I have a few other spiders that I have yet to get pictures of and will post them also when I do.
Thanks,
Kathy

Hi Kathy,
Search no further. You have Long Bodied Cellar Spiders,
Pholcus phalangioides. These are domestic spiders, often found in the bathroom. Sometimes when the web is disturbed, the spider gyrates wildly. That does appear to be an eggsac. One of your photos also shows a discarded skin from a prior molt.

Letter 3 – Cobweb Spider

 

Marbled orb weaver?
Hi Bugman,
I’m not entirely sure of this kind of spider and I am wondering if you could help me identify it. I think it could be a marbled orb weaver, but am not certain. I found it on the underside of our green bin. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!
Yvonne,
Barrie, Ontario

Hi Yvonne,
This is not one of the Araneus spiders, but one of the Cobweb Spiders in the family Theridiidae which includes the Widows. We think this might be the Domestic Spider or Common House Spider, Achaearanea tepidariorum.

Letter 4 – Cobweb Spider

 

Cobweb Spider?
Hello again!
I recently sent you in a photo of an unknown spider that I found in my basement. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to send in any pictures of new bugs not many bugs to be found in 5 ft snow banks! I did, however, find a spider on the ceiling in my basement. It was in a web and had very long legs. I’m not sure what kind of spider it is. I thought maybe it was a long jawed orb weaver, but when I looked that up, they didn’t really match. I’m not very fond of finding spiders in my home, but didn’t have the heart to terminate this one. I let it go in my garage, but I imaging he’ll find it’s way back inside, as it is still rather cold out. I’ve had a bit more time to research your pages and I’m wondering if the spider is a cobweb spider. When I relocated the spider from its web, it did start gyrating like crazy, which is described in the cobweb spider submission on your Spider 2 page, sent in by Kathy. I can’t really tell if my spider matches the image posted on that page, though. Thanks again for any info you may have.
Yvonne

Hi Yvonne,
Yes, this is a Cobweb Spider, Pholcus phalangioides.

Letter 5 – Cobweb Spider

 

Subject: What spider is this?
Location: Minnesota
April 13, 2016 6:06 pm
Hello I found this spider in a crawl space in Minnesota, what spider is this?
Signature: Fog lifted

Cobweb Spider
Cobweb Spider

Dear Fog lifted,
We believe this is one of the Cobweb Spiders in the family Theridiidae, a group well represented on BugGuide.

Letter 6 – Cobweb Spider: Rhomphaea fictilium

 

Subject: Strange Spider?
Location: Upstate New York
July 11, 2017 9:14 pm
Dear Bugman,
My son and I located what we believe to be some sort of spider weaving a web under our porch light. We were quite curious as to what type of spider it might be. I am thinking some type of Orb Weaver? Any help would be greatly appreciated. So sorry for the quality of the photos, the bug was quite small. Thank you.
Signature: Heather

Cobweb Spider

Dear Heather,
We believe we have correctly identified your spider as a Cobweb Spider in the family Theridiidae, and it is a species without a common name,
Rhomphaea fictilium, thanks to this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide, it is:  “widely scattered in the U.S., but reportedly rare; also throughout most of Canada.”  We located this interesting information on Spiderbytes:  “As well as having wonderfully strange morphology, Rhomphaea have rather unusual habits. Most spiders are generalist predators, and spiders in the family Theridiidae typically build tangle webs that they use to catch crawling insects and other arthropods, including other spiders. Rhomphaea, unlike most of their relatives, specialize on hunting other spiders. They do sometimes build their own rudimentary webs from just a few silk lines, but they also enter the webs of other spiders and use aggressive mimicry to hunt their owners. Rhomphaea will pluck the web and produce vibrations that lure the resident spider out to investigate what they perceive to be prey caught in the web. The web-building hunter then becomes the hunted, tricked into the approaching the dangerous intruder. Rhomphaea fictilium have been reported to prey on other theridiids, orb-weavers (araneids), sheet-weavers (linyphiids) and others.”

Cobweb Spider

Wonderful!  Thank you so very much for your help.  It was fascinating to read about this spider.
Thank you,
Heather

Letter 7 – Cobweb Spider and Spiderlings eat a Fly in Australia

 

Spider and Young
Location: Perth, Western Australia
January 22, 2011 5:09 am
Hi,
I found this spider and her young in a messy web in the branches of a small gum tree in my garden. I am curious to know what type they are. Photo taken 20/01/11.
Many thanks
Signature: Tanya Bennett

Cobweb Spider

Hi Tanya,
We really love your photograph, which we believe shows a Cobweb Spider or Comb Footed Spider in the family Theridiidae
with her brood.  The family includes the notoriously venomous Red Back Spider in Australia and Black Widow in North America, but most of the members in the family are quite benign.  It appears that the Spiderlings in your photo are taking advantage of feeding off of a Fly that has become ensnared in their mother’s web.  We were unable to conclusively match your Spider to any of the Comb Footed Spiders on the Brisbane Spider website.

Hi Daniel,
Many thanks for your quick response, very interesting to find out what the spider is, she is still in her curled up leaf with her babies today.
Kind regards
Tanya

Letter 8 – Cobweb Spider, but what species???

 

Steatoda grossa?
Location: Western New York
October 11, 2011 11:07 pm
I found this spider in a web above my window. Looking at pics of Steatoda grossa, it seems to be a match. But I am asking a pro, to satisfy my own curiosity.
Signature: Tim from Fredonia, NY

Cobweb Spider

Hi Tim,
We believe this is one of the Cobweb Spiders in the family Theridiidae, but we cannot confirm that is is the False Widow,
Steatoda grossa, which is pictured on BugGuide.  The family also contains the notorious Widow Spiders in the genus Lactrodectus, but we feel confident that we can exclude them from the possibilities for your individual’s identity.  We believe the strongest contenders are the members of the genus Theridion, also well represented on BugGuide.  Perhaps one of our readers more skilled in spider identification will be able to provide something more definitive.  

Letter 9 – Cobweb Spider in Germany

 

German Spider
Sat, Oct 25, 2008 at 3:56 PM
Hi, WTB!
I would say that I’m a great fan, but I know that you all probably know that whoever sends you photos has to at least have an interest in your site. So yeah, another of the hundred fans of the website. Great Job!
But onto my story:
I went to Germany this summer, and While I was at Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, our group went below the castle to see a grotto. Inside, when everyone was looking at the pictures and sculptures put there by the king, yours truly was taking snapshots of the spiders living around the cave floor. This one in particular caught my eye. The light from the flash casts an awful glare in one photo, but the others I think show it pretty well. This spider was large in my mind at the time, but now that I seriously think about it, the arachnid couldn’t have been bigger than three inches stretched out.
Although, that’s why I’m asking experts: you.
Thank you much in advance, and I hope that you’ll be able to identify this critter!
Zachary Boyden
Bavaria, Germany

Cobweb Spider from Bavaria
Cobweb Spider from Bavaria

Hi Zachary,
Thanks for your kind letter.  We are not able to identify your spider species, nor the genus, but we are confident that this is a Cobweb Spider or Comb Footed Spider in the family Theridiidae.  Most spiders in this family are harmless, but it also includes the Widows and the notorious Australian Redback Spider.

Letter 10 – Cobweb Spiders Mating

 

Bug Love
Hi Bugman!
Here’s a picture I shot from two Pholcus phalangioides mating. If you use it on your Bug Love page, could you please include a link to my page?
http://www.jr-worldwi.de/photo/
Thanks! I also have pics of [other bugs mating]. Interested? And thanks for that entertaining page! Cheers
Jens

Hi Jens,
Thanks for sending the photo of the mating Cobweb Spiders. We would love to get any other mating insect photos you have in your archive when you locate them. We are happy to link to your site.

Letter 11 – False Button Spider from Kenya

 

Spiders
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
December 22, 2010 5:01 am
Hi Bugman,
As you mentioned you don’t get many entries from East Africa, here are a few close-ups of the spiders I live with.

Picture 2: A ”False Button” Steatoda capensis. Came to this conclusion after much discussion with others and much searching.

Keep an eye out for more. I’ve got tonnes!
Signature: Zarek

False Button Spider

Dear Zarek,
Thanks for sending an image of a False Button Spider,
Steatoda capensis,  from the family Theridiidae, the same family that includes the highly venomous Widow Spiders.

When I first found this one (Steatoda capensis), I was a little afraid that it was a Brown Button, but I could never get a good view of the underside of its abdomen to look for that red hourglass shape.  I searched and searched online and finally found some good pictures that pretty much exactly matched what I was looking at.  None of the Latrodectus (widow) pictures I found matched.
Steatoda’s sometimes prey on Latrodectus species, though their venom is not considered to be as dangerous to humans as the black or brown widow’s venom.  Some Steatoda do still have relatively potent venom, though, so I’m still not going to be picking it up and fiddling around with it.
Zarek Cockar

I forgot to clarify, while some Steatoda can have slightly dangerous venom in their bite, this particular one, Steatoda capensis, does not.
Just a general note:  A good reference for Southern African arachnids is the African Arachnid Database (AFRAD), put together by Dr. Ansie Dippenaar-Schoeman, a well recognized arachnid expert in SA.  Website: http://www.arc.agric.za/afrad/afradmain.aspx

Update from Zarek
False Button Full Body
Location: Masai Mara, Kenya
December 23, 2010 4:38 am
Hi Daniel,
Here’s a full body photo of the False Button Spider (Steatoda capensis) I sent in earlier.
She was about 3cm long.
There were two that hung around my tent for several days.
Signature: Zarek

False Button Spider

Thanks for the full body view Zarek.  The resemblance to the Widow Spiders in the genus Latrodectus is much more evident in this image.

Letter 12 – Male Cobweb Spider from Spain

 

Subject: What spider is this?
Location: Southern Spain
April 10, 2013 3:42 am
Hello!
Just curious what this spider is. Although it didn’t look like it was going to tear my face off or lay eggs in my eyes (so I wasn’t too worried), it was slightly different to most spiders I’ve come across, and I was wondering if you knew what it was?
Relatively small, maybe an inch long at most, quite slender, jet black and didn’t seem to be all that good at climbing walls. Very large teeth in comparison to the rest of it’s body.
(Not the best picture, sorry!)
Thanks!
Signature: Scott

Spider
Spider

Hi Scott,
As you indicated, your photo is quite blurry, but it does reveal some interesting features, including the large pedipalps that indicate this is a male spider.  We believe it might be an Ant Mimic Spider in the family Corinnidae.  We are requesting assistance from Mandy Howe who volunteered to help us with spider identifications.

Mandy Howe identifies Cobweb Spider
Hi Daniel,
The Spain spider with the large palps and constricted abdomen looks a lot like something in the genus Coleosoma, of family Theridiidae.  They’re cobweb spiders that also seem to mimic ants, though only the males look like this. The females of the genus look more like a regular cobweb spider with a bulbous abdomen.
We have some Coleosoma in North America that you can compare images to: http://bugguide.net/node/view/51778/bgpage.
However, to my knowledge, the only species in that genus that might be found in Spain is the cosmopolitan Coleosoma blandum.  If it’s not that species, then I’m not sure what it would be in Spain. It could be some other genus in the same family.  Unfortunately, my experience with spiders found in Spain is somewhat limited.  Based on a checklist of Iberian Spiders (by Cardoso & Morano 2010), I don’t see Coleosoma blandum listed, but it is considered a cosmopolitan species, so I think it can pop up all over the place.
That’s the best I can do just based on the silhouette of the spider, at least. But I’ve showed it to the British Arachnological Society listserv, so I might be able to change/correct that ID if anyone replies.  There are folks on there that are more familiar with Spanish and European spiders.  So stand by and I’ll let you know if/when someone replies. 🙂

Letter 13 – Unknown Spider from Indonesia is Spiny Theridiid

 

Subject: Spider question again
Location: Gunung Manglayang, West Java, Indonesia
October 18, 2013 11:23 pm
Hello Daniel,
I got a question about a spider again, and I only got one decent photo of it.
In term of size… it’s a relatively small spider about 1 to 1,5 cm toe to toe, and I found it hide behind a banana leave.
Hope that whatsthatbug could help identifying this guy 🙂
Signature: Mohamad Idham Iskandar

Unknown Spider from Indonesia
Spiny Theridiid Spider from Indonesia

Hi Mohamad,
We are sorry about the delay.  We have been very busy and we somehow overlooked your request.  We do not recognize your spider, but we will post the image and hopefully one of our readers will write in with an identification.

Karl provides a classification
Hi Daniel and Mohamad:
I believe this is a comb-footed spider (Theridiidae), also known as tangle-web or cobweb spiders. As far as I can tell, the black blade-like hairs at the end of the abdomen are characteristic of two genera, Chrysso and Meotipa. Christa l. Deeleman-Reinhold refers to them as spiny theridiids. Unfortunately, that is as far as I could get, as I could find no online photos or descriptions that pointed me to any particular genus or species. Nicky Bay Photography has posted numerous excellent images from Singapore that come close, most identified as Chrysso sp. or just Theridiidae. You can click here or here to check out two good examples. Project Noah also provides an image of a similar spider from India that it identifies as Chrysso sp. Regards.  Karl

Thanks so much for doing this intensive research Karl.

Wow thanks a lot Daniel and Karl for the clue…, first time seeing this spider and for me that is really interesting.

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 – Possibly Comb Footed Spider

 

Orb in the Basement
Since Finding your site spiders have become more intriguing to me. This little guy seems to have a walking person on its belly. Any ideas as to what it might be?
Thanks
Shawn
Battle Creek, MI

Hi Shawn,
I’m very happy you find our site interesting. Sorry I can’t be more exact with your spider. It seems to be one of the Comb-Footed Spiders, Family Theridiidae. The Black Widow is in this family, but your critter isn’t one of the few dangerous spiders we have stateside. Your spider appears to be a very competant hunter, considering the ground beetle and millipede it has caught.

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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

14 thoughts on “Tangle Web Spider: All You Need to Know in a Nutshell”

  1. I may be wrong about the specific name.
    I don’t think capensis occurs here.

    However the two Steatodas that I can find that DO occur here don’t really look like this.
    I have pictures of the males as well, so I’m checking both. I’ll let you know if I come up with anything better.

    Reply
  2. An edit to my original reply: A handful of people on the British Arachnological Society listserv suggest that this spider from Spain is probably a male Cresmatoneta mutinensis that’s just a bit dehydrated/starved and that’s why the abdomen has the constriction. That species was once rare in Spain but is now quite common. Here’s an image of one without dehydration: http://www.pavouci-cz.eu/Data/Cresmatoneta%20mutinensis/obr_C6_Cresmatoneta_mutinensis_90708.jpg. I suppose it’s up to Scott to let use know if that’s what it looked like, as we can’t see the details in the image.

    Reply
  3. Hey Mr. Bugman –

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR WEBSITE!! —-Just now discovered it doing a Google Search for info on the Stink Bug actually, as they have been hanging out on my 2nd floor window screens the past few months, & I was only able to ID them when I caught the tail-end of a blurb about them on a local TV news station. My curiosity was piqued by their name, because several times recently, I have noticed some pretty foul odors in my apartment which have been indistinguishable to me. I spent most of my adult life in LA, CA, and about 10 years in Chicago, but I have only lived in this area since January 1 of this year, which is fairly rural, surrounded by farmland and woods, and is right on the Mississippi, across from Davenport, IA. —So – what I have learned so far about the myriad environmental factors and issues affecting life and living conditions would not come close to filling a thimble.

    The sites I have perused so far were quite scientifically technical, and never did mention a thing about the actual “stink capabilities”, causation & triggers thereof, or relative habits of any of the species of stink bug – native American or Japanese imports. I’d also been wondering about the dozens of many-legged wormy-looking little creatures that I have been finding shamelessly wandering around my apartment anywhere they please – any time of day they please – most often across the carpet, or floor, in every room, in the bathtub, in my bed – appearing, with no warning, climbing out of my pillowcases, and one day last week I watched one explore my entire kitchen {about 8′ x 20′}, checking out the land beneath the frig, the cat food – which was ultimately rejected, and I allowed him his final leg of the expedition – into one of the lower cupboards housing pots and pans, which he entered slipping easily underneath the molding. Perhaps he was claustrophobic – he exited fairly quickly – and as has been my habit, I enticed him to board a piece of typing paper and deposited him near a wall in the hallway outside of my apartment. I decided he must be a centipede – having done a poor imitation of a caterpillar, which I only considered once for a few scant seconds…….when I made a mental note to look him up on the internet at my first opportunity.

    My research today was actually triggered by my newfound concerns about the Stink Bugs, which I have been watching light on my screens with great interest, and greater ignorance, until I caught the mention on television – but alas, too late to hear any actual information. And so – it is while giving Google a go, that lo and behold, I practically stumble into your website, and trip over your pictures and comments about the Very Type of Centipede who has regularly been visiting me within, and here, on your site, I unexpectedly discover about the fact that they have some kinds of foul odor that THEY emit.

    Right now I cant recall whether or not the Stink Bugs ever got inside……I’ve been extremely busy, much of the time spent in the final stages of organizing and settling my new place, which yet includes the unpacking and rearranging of an abundance of “stuff” {lotta hobbies}, and many boxes of paper files – I’m a writer – {and NO – I don’t have cockroaches}……….but I’m very frequently lost inside my head somewhere when I’m doing mundane things……so sometimes things escape me.

    So, here’s the thing: You may think I’m a bit whacked when I tell you this – some people do anyway {smile} – but for years I have occaisionally experienced olfactory hallucinations……. no drug inducement, I assure you. It’s rare – but it’s real. For example, when I lived in the desert in California, several times I experienced the smell of hamburgers being grilled at about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Trust me – nobody was barbecuing at that time. There were a couple of times I’d be driving alone in my car, and suddenly it was filled with the scent of a familiar perfume…….that I did not possess.

    Just in the past 2 -3 weeks, maybe a half dozen times or so, I walked into my apartment after being out, or simply went from one room into another down the hall, and smelled some god-awful odor far worse than my cat’s litter box – but different. But still I immediately cleaned the litter, then took out all the garbage from every room around the apt, sniffed the outside air at every window, checked my own self out, my dirty clothes, and sprayed Febreze and pet odor sprays in every room……

    Honest to God – I didn’t know what to think – If it was me, or what…….I figured maybe one of the cats got sick, or someone was having a plumbing tragedy………I knew it wasn’t skunk…..Then – one morning last week I was dreaming one of my “almost like going to the movies” kind of dreams, and in my dream I started smelling the distinctively foul odor of human excrement. This kind of thing Never happened to me before. You know how when you’re having a really stressful dream you can become sorta conscious of trying to pull yourself up out of it? Well – I was doing just that…….and I woke up a bit groggy……dazed and confused……. and I lay in bed for a few minutes – kind of in a stupor a little bit – thinking about how incredulous it was…… and then I realized I could still smell it. Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

    At that point I was becoming convinced it was all in my head. I finally called my friend downstairs to come up and tell me if she could smell anything funky. She couldn’t. But time had passed…….I had sprayed out any trace of a substance with an odor, and I always keep my windows open to keep the air fresh, and moving, whenever weather permits.

    So then – Coincidentally – just a few days after the dream incident, I come to find out that these insects I’ve been watching, clinging to my screens, flitting off & coming back…….that I found so interesting to study, were named “Stink Bugs”. Naturally, I got to thinking, and wondering.

    And – it was only by checking out your website that I found out about the centipedes throwing off an odor sometimes…….which I never heard before…….and I still havent tracked down the info about the “Stink” in Stink Bug…… But it is hard to imagine that a little ol’ critter as big as your thumb nail could clear a room in a manner of seconds.
    But – then again – I gotta remember that spiders and such, much smaller than that, can kill you with one quick poke of a stinger. So as you can well imagine – at this point I don’t know what to think!!!!

    So – what I would like to know is, can / do – either or both of these insects cause that foul of, and that strong of, an odor? I am well aware that I have always been hypersensitive – far more than most people – physically, emotionally, in every way……and hyper-aware when hit by pretty much anything affecting the sensory systems, internally and externally. Comes with the creative territory, doncha know.

    But still – It’s hard for me to believe that my senses, and my imagination, are conjuring up these smells that are strong enough to make you want to vacate where you are. And, yes, I do well recognize the possibility that the odors are coming from another source altogether – and not remotely connected to my psyche or your entomology. I’d just really like a starting point based upon a solid, factual basis.

    I hope you can help me……..and if you can’t, I hope that at the very least, for all of your time that I’ve taken up with my lengthy explanation of the situation, I’ve been able to at least hold your interest, have perhaps provided some enlightenment for you about a phenomenon you are most likely unfamiliar with, and perhaps even a modicum of amusement with a smile or two, while you were reading.

    Thank you for your time and for whatever attention you can give this. I really am most grateful that your group exists, and for your collective willingness to educate and assist the far less knowledgeable public, most of us whom find our skin crawling when in the presence of one of your fascinating little creatures, be they crawling creepily, immobilized by one mad squishing blow, or merely by having their image captured in a colorful 8 by 10 centimeter glossy featured in the Centerfold of Entomology Monthly. ……….. And, when I am a bit more flush, I will happily make a little contribution to your cause through PayPal……so if my writing didn’t bring forth a smile, perhaps that will.

    Do take care, be well, and I hope to hear from you at your convenience.

    Very sincerely,
    Catherine {Cat} Wylde

    Please look for me on FB, and I hope you will check out some of my writing pieces on my Blog Site when I begin to publish, at www.http://BloggeramaMama.WordPress.com
    Thank you

    Reply
  4. Hey Mr. Bugman –

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR WEBSITE!! —-Just now discovered it doing a Google Search for info on the Stink Bug actually, as they have been hanging out on my 2nd floor window screens the past few months, & I was only able to ID them when I caught the tail-end of a blurb about them on a local TV news station. My curiosity was piqued by their name, because several times recently, I have noticed some pretty foul odors in my apartment which have been indistinguishable to me. I spent most of my adult life in LA, CA, and about 10 years in Chicago, but I have only lived in this area since January 1 of this year, which is fairly rural, surrounded by farmland and woods, and is right on the Mississippi, across from Davenport, IA. —So – what I have learned so far about the myriad environmental factors and issues affecting life and living conditions would not come close to filling a thimble.

    The sites I have perused so far were quite scientifically technical, and never did mention a thing about the actual “stink capabilities”, causation & triggers thereof, or relative habits of any of the species of stink bug – native American or Japanese imports. I’d also been wondering about the dozens of many-legged wormy-looking little creatures that I have been finding shamelessly wandering around my apartment anywhere they please – any time of day they please – most often across the carpet, or floor, in every room, in the bathtub, in my bed – appearing, with no warning, climbing out of my pillowcases, and one day last week I watched one explore my entire kitchen {about 8′ x 20′}, checking out the land beneath the frig, the cat food – which was ultimately rejected, and I allowed him his final leg of the expedition – into one of the lower cupboards housing pots and pans, which he entered slipping easily underneath the molding. Perhaps he was claustrophobic – he exited fairly quickly – and as has been my habit, I enticed him to board a piece of typing paper and deposited him near a wall in the hallway outside of my apartment. I decided he must be a centipede – having done a poor imitation of a caterpillar, which I only considered once for a few scant seconds…….when I made a mental note to look him up on the internet at my first opportunity.

    My research today was actually triggered by my newfound concerns about the Stink Bugs, which I have been watching light on my screens with great interest, and greater ignorance, until I caught the mention on television – but alas, too late to hear any actual information. And so – it is while giving Google a go, that lo and behold, I practically stumble into your website, and trip over your pictures and comments about the Very Type of Centipede who has regularly been visiting me within, and here, on your site, I unexpectedly discover about the fact that they have some kinds of foul odor that THEY emit.

    Right now I cant recall whether or not the Stink Bugs ever got inside……I’ve been extremely busy, much of the time spent in the final stages of organizing and settling my new place, which yet includes the unpacking and rearranging of an abundance of “stuff” {lotta hobbies}, and many boxes of paper files – I’m a writer – {and NO – I don’t have cockroaches}……….but I’m very frequently lost inside my head somewhere when I’m doing mundane things……so sometimes things escape me.

    So, here’s the thing: You may think I’m a bit whacked when I tell you this – some people do anyway {smile} – but for years I have occaisionally experienced olfactory hallucinations……. no drug inducement, I assure you. It’s rare – but it’s real. For example, when I lived in the desert in California, several times I experienced the smell of hamburgers being grilled at about 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Trust me – nobody was barbecuing at that time. There were a couple of times I’d be driving alone in my car, and suddenly it was filled with the scent of a familiar perfume…….that I did not possess.

    Just in the past 2 -3 weeks, maybe a half dozen times or so, I walked into my apartment after being out, or simply went from one room into another down the hall, and smelled some god-awful odor far worse than my cat’s litter box – but different. But still I immediately cleaned the litter, then took out all the garbage from every room around the apt, sniffed the outside air at every window, checked my own self out, my dirty clothes, and sprayed Febreze and pet odor sprays in every room……

    Honest to God – I didn’t know what to think – If it was me, or what…….I figured maybe one of the cats got sick, or someone was having a plumbing tragedy………I knew it wasn’t skunk…..Then – one morning last week I was dreaming one of my “almost like going to the movies” kind of dreams, and in my dream I started smelling the distinctively foul odor of human excrement. This kind of thing Never happened to me before. You know how when you’re having a really stressful dream you can become sorta conscious of trying to pull yourself up out of it? Well – I was doing just that…….and I woke up a bit groggy……dazed and confused……. and I lay in bed for a few minutes – kind of in a stupor a little bit – thinking about how incredulous it was…… and then I realized I could still smell it. Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

    At that point I was becoming convinced it was all in my head. I finally called my friend downstairs to come up and tell me if she could smell anything funky. She couldn’t. But time had passed…….I had sprayed out any trace of a substance with an odor, and I always keep my windows open to keep the air fresh, and moving, whenever weather permits.

    So then – Coincidentally – just a few days after the dream incident, I come to find out that these insects I’ve been watching, clinging to my screens, flitting off & coming back…….that I found so interesting to study, were named “Stink Bugs”. Naturally, I got to thinking, and wondering.

    And – it was only by checking out your website that I found out about the centipedes throwing off an odor sometimes…….which I never heard before…….and I still havent tracked down the info about the “Stink” in Stink Bug…… But it is hard to imagine that a little ol’ critter as big as your thumb nail could clear a room in a manner of seconds.
    But – then again – I gotta remember that spiders and such, much smaller than that, can kill you with one quick poke of a stinger. So as you can well imagine – at this point I don’t know what to think!!!!

    So – what I would like to know is, can / do – either or both of these insects cause that foul of, and that strong of, an odor? I am well aware that I have always been hypersensitive – far more than most people – physically, emotionally, in every way……and hyper-aware when hit by pretty much anything affecting the sensory systems, internally and externally. Comes with the creative territory, doncha know.

    But still – It’s hard for me to believe that my senses, and my imagination, are conjuring up these smells that are strong enough to make you want to vacate where you are. And, yes, I do well recognize the possibility that the odors are coming from another source altogether – and not remotely connected to my psyche or your entomology. I’d just really like a starting point based upon a solid, factual basis.

    I hope you can help me……..and if you can’t, I hope that at the very least, for all of your time that I’ve taken up with my lengthy explanation of the situation, I’ve been able to at least hold your interest, have perhaps provided some enlightenment for you about a phenomenon you are most likely unfamiliar with, and perhaps even a modicum of amusement with a smile or two, while you were reading.

    Thank you for your time and for whatever attention you can give this. I really am most grateful that your group exists, and for your collective willingness to educate and assist the far less knowledgeable public, most of us whom find our skin crawling when in the presence of one of your fascinating little creatures, be they crawling creepily, immobilized by one mad squishing blow, or merely by having their image captured in a colorful 8 by 10 centimeter glossy featured in the Centerfold of Entomology Monthly. ……….. And, when I am a bit more flush, I will happily make a little contribution to your cause through PayPal……so if my writing didn’t bring forth a smile, perhaps that will.

    Do take care, be well, and I hope to hear from you at your convenience.

    Very sincerely,
    Catherine {Cat} Wylde

    Please look for me on FB, and I hope you will check out some of my writing pieces on my Blog Site when I begin to publish, at www.http://BloggeramaMama.WordPress.com
    Thank you

    Reply
  5. I’ve found these in all 3 warehouses at my job. Weird part is 10yrs ago this species of spider wasn’t a resident there.

    Reply

Leave a Comment