Types of Common House Spiders: A Friendly Guide

House spiders are common arachnid guests you might find in your home, and knowing more about them can ease your mind when you stumble upon one. There are around 40,000 known species of spiders globally, with nearly 3,000 native to North America. In this article, you’ll learn about some common house spiders, their characteristics, and general behavior.

One type of common house spider you might encounter is the Yellow Sac Spider, which builds small silk sacs for their retreat. These spiders are frequently found near ceilings or corners of walls. Another example is the Barn Funnel Weaver, which creates complex funnel-like webs and patiently waits for their prey to become trapped.

While many people may be wary of spiders, it’s important to note that most of these arachnids are harmless and even beneficial by helping control insect populations. So the next time you discover a spider in your house, remember that they are generally just looking for a safe place to live while offering you their pest control services.

Understanding Spiders

When looking at common house spiders, there are a few key features to help you identify them. Let’s explore the different characteristics you should look for:

Legs: Spiders are part of the arachnid family, and all arachnids have eight legs. Their legs may vary in length, thickness, and color, often serving as an important clue to the species of the spider.

Abdomen: The spider’s abdomen is another distinctive feature, commonly used for identification. It is generally round or oval-shaped and can be smooth or patterned. Abdomen shapes, sizes, and markings will vary depending on the species.

  • For example, the common house spider has a round abdomen, usually with V-shaped markings and a whitish patch.

Fangs: Most spiders have a pair of fangs, which are used to inject venom into their prey. The size and appearance of fangs can differ among spider species.

Eyes: Unlike insects, spiders generally have either six or eight eyes. The arrangement and size of their eyes can help in identifying their species.

Male and female spiders often exhibit differences in size, color, or markings. In many cases, females are larger than males, especially when it comes to reproductive roles, such as carrying egg sacs.

  • As an illustration, female common house spiders can be mottled gray or tan, while males have a more uniform appearance.

Egg sacs are another notable feature of spiders. Female spiders typically create and guard their egg sacs, ensuring the safety of their future offspring. Egg sacs can differ in size, shape, and location, depending on the spider species.

By familiarizing yourself with these characteristics, you can better understand and identify the various common house spiders that you may encounter in your day-to-day life. As you learn more about these fascinating arachnids, you will likely develop a greater appreciation for their important role in the ecosystem.

Common House Spiders

You may often come across various types of house spiders in your home, but don’t worry – most of them are harmless. Here, we’ll briefly introduce you to some common house spiders that you may encounter.

1. Common House Spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum):

  • Found throughout North America, from Southern Canada to the United States1
  • Yellowish-brown carapace and dirty-white to brown abdomen with gray chevrons2
  • Webs are messy and disorganized1

2. Cellar Spiders (Pholcus spp.):

  • Long, thin legs and small body3
  • Build loose, irregular-shaped webs in corners and dark spaces3

3. Crab Spiders (Xysticus spp.):

  • Broad, flat body resembling a crab4
  • Do not build webs; known for their excellent camouflage while hunting prey4

4. Yellow Garden Spiders (Argiope aurantia):

  • Large, colorful spiders with yellow and black markings4
  • Build large, circular, vertical webs in gardens and residential areas4

Comparison Table

Spider Type Web Type Location Color(s) Size
Common House Spider Messy North America Yellow-brown, gray 5-6 mm (F)
Cellar Spider Loose, irregular Dark spaces Pale 7-8 mm (F)
Crab Spider None Gardens, grass Varies 3-30 mm (F)
Yellow Garden Spider Vertical, circular Gardens, fields Yellow, black, white 20-28 mm (F)

Remember, while most house spiders are harmless, it’s always good to be cautious. By learning about these common house spiders, you can better understand and manage the spiders that live in and around your home.

Spotting House Spiders

When trying to spot house spiders, it’s essential to look out for their webs. You can often find these in corners, cobwebs near windows and doors, or even in your garage or basement. Attics and crawl spaces are also common spots for spiders to set up their homes, as they prefer dark and secluded areas.

These creatures also tend to gravitate toward gardens, sheds, and barns, where they can spin their webs and catch prey. Don’t be surprised if you come across spiders lurking in the corners of these outdoor structures.

To identify common house spiders, pay attention to their physical characteristics:

  • Yellowish, tan, brown, or gray body color with darker mottling or streaks
  • Round abdomen, higher than long, usually with streaks on the side and V-shapes behind
  • Legs ringed with a dark color

Apart from their appearance, the type of web can also provide clues about the species:

  • Common House Spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum): Cobweb-like webs in corners and dark spaces
  • Cellar Spiders (Pholcus spp.): Messy, irregular webs in basements and cellars
  • Crab Spiders (Xysticus spp.): No webs; they camouflage and ambush prey on flowers or foliage
  • Yellow Garden Spiders (Argiope aurantia): Orb-shaped webs with a zigzag pattern (stabilimentum) in gardens

By keeping an eye out for these clues and familiarizing yourself with common spider characteristics, you can spot house spiders in various areas of your home and garden.

Colors and Physical Features

Common house spiders come in various colors, including brown, yellow, tan, red, black, gray, and white. Their physical features can vary, but they often have an oval or round-shaped abdomen.

For example, the common house spider is usually drab, with colors ranging from yellowish to gray. They have darker mottling or streaks on their body and a whitish patch behind the abdomen. These spiders also have ringed legs with a dark color.

Here’s a comparison table to help understand the color variations:

Color Example Spider
Brown Wolf Spider
Yellow Yellow Sac Spider
Tan Daddy Longlegs
Red Woodlouse Hunter Spider
Black Black House Spider
Gray Common Cellar Spider
White White Crab Spider

Some key characteristics of common house spiders include:

  • Varied colors
  • Oval or round-shaped abdomens
  • Hairy or smooth legs

Remember, these spiders help control pest populations in your home. When you spot a common house spider, try to appreciate their helpful nature rather than fear them. So now you’re more informed about the colors and physical features you can expect from these friendly household helpers.

The Venomous Ones

When it comes to common house spiders, not all are venomous. However, some pose a significant threat to our safety and well-being, like the brown recluse, black widow, and hobo spider. You should be familiar with these venomous spiders to keep yourself and your family safe. Here’s a brief overview of each:

Brown Recluse Spider

  • Found mainly in central and southern United States.
  • They are usually brown to gray with a dark violin-shaped marking behind their head.
  • Bites can cause severe pain, swelling, and necrosis (tissue death) in some cases.

Black Widow Spider

  • Found throughout North America, most common in southern and western regions.
  • Identified by the red hourglass-shaped marking on the underside of their abdomen.
  • Bites may lead to muscle pain, nausea, difficulty breathing, and even paralysis in severe cases.

Hobo Spider

  • Primarily found in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.
  • They have a brownish-gray color with a herringbone pattern on the top side of their abdomen.
  • Bites can cause mild to moderate pain, redness, and swelling, but are typically not as dangerous as brown recluse or black widow bites.

It’s essential to be cautious when encountering these spiders, particularly the brown recluse and black widow, as their bites may require medical attention. You can minimize your risk by avoiding cluttered areas, and wearing gloves when handling woodpiles or working outdoors. Stay safe by staying informed about these venomous house spiders.

Less Dangerous Spiders

Most spiders you come across in your home are essentially harmless, meaning they pose no serious threat to humans. Some of the common less dangerous spiders you might encounter include:

  • Cellar spiders: Also known as daddy long legs, these spiders have long, thin legs and small bodies. They are often found in dark, damp areas like basements and crawlspaces. Cellar spiders are not aggressive and their venom is not harmful to humans.

  • Jumping spiders: These small, furry spiders are known for their excellent jumping skills and keen eyesight. Jumping spiders are usually found outdoors, but they may wander into homes occasionally. They are not dangerous to humans and can even be beneficial by eating other insects.

  • Wolf spiders: Wolf spiders are larger than most common house spiders but are not considered dangerous. They have a robust body and are known for their high speed and agility. While they can bite if provoked, their venom is not medically significant to humans.

  • Sac spiders: These spiders are often found indoors and are known for their habit of creating small silken sacs in corners and crevices. Their bites might cause mild irritation, but they are not considered harmful.

It’s important to remember that, in general, spiders would prefer to avoid human contact. Here’s a comparison table of these less dangerous spiders:

Spider Type Body Size Habitat Venomous to Humans?
Cellar Spider Small Dark, damp areas No
Jumping Spider Small, furry Indoors/outdoors No
Wolf Spider Large Various No
Sac Spider Small to medium Indoors Mildly

If you encounter any of these spiders, remember that they are mostly harmless and can help in controlling other pests in your home. So, it’s wise to consider their benefits before deciding to remove them from your living space.

Diet and Prey

House spiders are excellent predators, helping to control the population of various small insects in your home. Some common prey for these spiders include:

  • Flies
  • Mosquitoes
  • Insects

House spiders, like the common house spider and the American house spider, feed on a variety of insect species. When these spiders build their webs, they usually position themselves in the middle to wait for their next meal.

For example, the common house spider is known to eat German cockroaches and scorpions. By hunting down these pests, house spiders help to create a healthier living environment for you.

While you may not particularly enjoy sharing your home with spiders, it’s important to remember their role in managing insect populations. Your friendly house spiders are working hard to keep your home free from undesirable pests!

Common Spider Myths

Most people grow up hearing certain myths about spiders. Let’s start unpacking some of these widespread misconceptions and learn the truth about these fascinating creatures. Keeping things short and sweet, here are a few spider myths that need to be debunked.

Myth 1: Daddy longlegs are the most venomous spiders in the world.

This myth is actually referring to two different harmless creatures with similar names: “daddy longlegs” and “harvestmen.” Daddy longlegs are true spiders, with a trademark long, slender appearance and eight legs. Although they do possess venom to paralyze their prey, it’s harmless to humans. On the other hand, harvestmen aren’t even spiders; they belong to a separate group of arachnids called Opiliones. These creatures don’t have venom glands and pose no threat to humans.

Myth 2: All tarantulas are deadly.

Tarantulas are often perceived as large, aggressive spiders with the potential to cause serious harm. However, most tarantulas have relatively weak venom that affects smaller prey but is not dangerous to humans. Bites from tarantulas can be painful due to the size of their fangs, but the effects are usually limited to mild discomfort or swelling.

A quick comparison of common spider myths:

Myth Fact
Daddy longlegs are highly venomous Daddy longlegs and harvestmen are harmless to humans
Tarantulas are invariably dangerous Most tarantulas have weak venom and are not dangerous

Here are some features of these misunderstood spiders:

  • Daddy longlegs:
    • True spiders
    • Have long, slender legs
    • Venomous, but harmless to humans
  • Harvestmen:
    • Not true spiders
    • Belong to the Opiliones group of arachnids
    • Don’t have venom glands
  • Tarantulas:
    • Large, hairy spiders
    • Weak venom, generally not dangerous to humans
    • Can cause discomfort from bites due to large fangs

So there you have it! You can now differentiate between myths and facts about common house spiders. Understanding these creatures and their harmless nature can help dispel fears and promote appreciation for these beneficial arthropods.

Spider Bites and Health Risks

Spider bites are commonly feared, but in reality, only a few species pose a threat to humans. Bites usually occur when a spider feels threatened or cornered.

When bitten, you might experience pain and a red mark, which can be accompanied by nausea in some cases. Many spider bites are harmless and cause minor discomfort, but certain species can pose health risks. Let’s explore some of these spiders and their bites:

  • Black Widow: This spider’s bite can cause severe pain, muscle cramps, and sweating. Seek immediate medical attention if bitten by a black widow.

  • Brown Recluse: A bite from this spider can result in symptoms like itching, pain, and even skin necrosis. Immediate medical help is necessary when bitten.

Here’s a comparison table of the two dangerous spiders:

Spider Bite Symptoms Treatment
Black Widow Severe pain, muscle cramps, sweating Medical help
Brown Recluse Itching, pain, skin necrosis Medical help

In conclusion, be cautious around spiders and avoid provoking them. If bitten, monitor the symptoms and seek medical attention if necessary. By being aware of the risks, you can prevent any serious health issues.

Preventing and Removing Infestations

To prevent and control common house spider infestations, start by keeping your home clean. Regularly vacuum, dust, and sweep to eliminate spider food sources, such as insects. This can also suck up spider eggs and webs.

  • Vacuum floors, corners, and ceilings
  • Dust furniture and shelves
  • Sweep floors around entry points

To make your home less inviting for spiders, seal potential entry points. Check for gaps around windows and doors, and fix damaged screens. Seal holes, cracks, and crevices both inside and outside.

Avoid clutter in your home as it provides hiding spots for spiders. Keep your storage areas, such as closets and garages, organized. Limit debris and wood piles outside your home as they can harbor spiders too.

  • Clear clutter from storage spaces
  • Store items in sealed plastic containers
  • Keep firewood piles away from your home

Lastly, enlisting the help of a professional pest control service might be necessary if you have a persistent infestation. They can help identify the type of house spiders and provide specialized treatments.

While keeping your home clean and sealed can prevent most spider infestations, remember that these critters play a vital role in controlling other pests. So, don’t worry too much about the occasional spider, but do your best to keep their numbers down.

Regional Differences

In the United States, various regions are home to different types of common house spiders. North America, for instance, has a diverse spider population due to its vast size and varied climates. In this section, we’ll explore some regional differences in common house spiders found across the U.S., particularly in the southern and midwestern regions.

In the Southern United States, you may encounter:

  • Black widow spiders
  • Brown recluse spiders
  • American house spiders

The warm, humid climate of the South is favorable for a variety of spider species. Black widow spiders are prevalent throughout the region and can be identified by their shiny black bodies and distinctive red hourglass-shaped markings on their abdomens. Brown recluse spiders, known for their violin-shaped markings on their backs, also thrive in the southern states. On the less harmful side, American house spiders are found nationwide, but they tend to favor warmer climates like those found in the South.

Meanwhile, in the Midwest United States, you might come across:

  • Wolf spiders
  • Orb-weaver spiders
  • Cellar spiders

Midwestern states have colder winters and milder summers, resulting in a slightly different spider population. Wolf spiders, characterized by their large size and hairy legs, can be found throughout the Midwest. Orb-weaver spiders, known for their intricate and large circular webs, are also commonly spotted in this region. Lastly, cellar spiders, sometimes referred to as “daddy longlegs,” can often be seen in basements and crawl spaces.

Comparison Table:

Spider Southern U.S. Midwest U.S.
Black Widow Yes No
Brown Recluse Yes No
American House Yes Yes
Wolf No Yes
Orb-Weaver No Yes
Cellar (Daddy Longlegs) No Yes

Remember, while encountering spiders in your home might be unnerving, most spiders in North America are harmless to humans. It’s essential to be aware of the regional differences and know which venomous species to look out for in your area.

Spider Species Around the World

You may have encountered various types of spiders in and around your home. Some common spider species can be found worldwide, preferring human habitation. Here, we will discuss a few of them in brief.

Funnel Weaver Spider: Known for spinning intricate funnel-shaped webs, these spiders can be commonly found in grassy areas, lawns, and gardens. They’re usually harmless to humans and help control pest populations. Their features include:

  • Funnel-shaped webs
  • Brown or gray color
  • Usually 0.4 to 0.8 inches in body length

Orb Weaver Spiders: These spiders are known for their beautiful orb-shaped webs. There’s a wide variety of orb weavers, varying in size, color, and pattern. They help keep insect populations in check. Some common characteristics of orb weavers are:

  • Orb-shaped webs
  • Sizes ranging from 0.1 to 1 inch in body length
  • Colorful and patterned bodies

Grass Spiders: Belonging to the funnel weaver family, grass spiders are commonly seen spinning their flat, funnel-like webs on grass and low vegetation. They’re beneficial for controlling garden pests and are non-aggressive towards humans. Features of grass spiders include:

  • Flat, funnel-like webs
  • Brown or gray color with dark markings on their abdomen
  • Body length ranging from 0.4 to 1.2 inches
Spider Type Web Shape Typical Habitat Size Benefit
Funnel Weaver Funnel Grassy areas 0.4 – 0.8 inch Controls pest populations, non-aggressive
Orb Weaver Orb Various 0.1 – 1 inch Controls pest populations, non-aggressive
Grass Spider Flat Funnel Grass, low plants 0.4 – 1.2 inches Controls garden pests, non-aggressive

Remember, spiders can be helpful for pest control, even if they’re not exactly our favorite roommates. Understanding their characteristics and behavior can make cohabiting with them a little easier.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.thespruce.com/common-house-spiders-2656509 2

  2. https://extension.psu.edu/common-house-spider

  3. https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2018/2/spiders/ 2

  4. https://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/common-house-spider 2 3 4

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 – Male Southern House Spider, NOT Recluse Spider in Arizona

 

Specific recluse
Wed, Nov 26, 2008 at 10:56 PM
Hi, I found this presumed reclusa spider in my house in Tucson, AZ. I know browns aren’t thought to be native here, but this is the fourth one I’ve found. This is the second one inside the house, and the other two were in the garage and back porch. Would this be a desert recluse, an arizona recluse, a brown recluse, or another species??
Thanks,
Clay
Tucson, Arizona

Recluse Spider
Male Southern House Spider

Hi Clay,
We too are unsure exactly which species of Recluse Spider in the genus Loxosceles you have photographed.  Exact identification may take a spider expert and may require actual examination of the specimen.  BugGuide posts a map with species distribution, and it seems Loxosceles apachea, Loxosceles arizonica, Loxosceles deserta, Loxosceles kaiba and Loxosceles sabina can all be found in Arizona, but there are no photographs identifying the differences between the species.  Both
Loxosceles apachea and Loxosceles arizonica have ranges near the Tucson area. BugGuide also indicates of the Loxosceles:  “Brown spiders will not bite unless provoked. Little is known about the venom and bite of the lesser-known species of brown spiders. ‘Although there are suspected variations in virulence among the species, all Loxosceles spiders should be considered potentially capable of producing dermonecrosis to some extent.’ (Arachnids Submitted as Suspected Brown Recluse Spiders (Araneae: Sicariidae): Loxosceles Spiders Are Virtually Restricted to Their Known Distributions but Are Perceived to Exist Throughout the United States by Rick Vetter). Loxosceles venom is cytotoxic to humans. “

Update with Correction:  July 23, 2012
Thanks to a comment, we have corrected this posting.  This is actually a male Southern House Spider,
Kukulcania hibernalis.  See BugGuide for additional information.

Letter 2 – Male Cellar Spider

 

Subject:  What’s this arachnid?
Geographic location of the bug:  Casa Grande, AZ (Sonoran Desert)
Date: 06/26/2019
Time: 08:56 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this “little” guy in my house he’s about 4 inches in diameter its currently summer here in AZ. He was climbing the wall. Didn’t find a web or eggs. We get a lot of crickets around here so that may be his diet.
How you want your letter signed:  Gaston

Male Cellar Spider

Dear Gaston,
This appears to us, based on this BugGuide image, to be a harmless male Southern House Spider, a harmless species that is often mistaken for the highly venomous Brown Recluse.

Update:  Cellar Spider
Cesar Crash provided a comment indicating this is a member of the genus Physocyclus, a Cellar Spider, and this BugGuide image would support that identification.

Letter 3 – Male Southern House Spider, NOT Brown Recluse Spider

 

Subject: Brown Recluse?
Location: Charleston, SC
July 21, 2017 8:16 pm
Greetings,
I was sitting on my sofa and I saw this spider walk across my living room. It looks to me that it could be a brown recluse. Or maybe a trap door spider?
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Signature: -John in Charleston, SC

Male Southern House Spider

Dear John,
This does appear to be a Brown Recluse Spider, and the large pedipalps indicate this is a male, similar to the one pictured in this BugGuide posting.

Correction:  Male Southern House Spider
Thanks to Catherine Scott and Sean McCann for writing in with comments correcting our identification of this male Southern House Spider.

Letter 4 – Giant House Spider terrorizes Francine

 

Subject: Spider welcoming committee.
Location: Seattle
February 6, 2013 11:52 am
Dear Bugman,
It was the 3rd night in our new house when thought that our cat had nabbed a mouse. To our (Amityville) horror, we realized it was no mouse, but some sort of terrifying, prehistoric spider. We were able to trap him under a pint glass and snap some shots. The opening of the pint glass is almost 4 inches (3 3/4”?) and there is a slight glare on the glass. Nobody seems to know what this guy is! Some guess hobo, others say too large. It’s the creepy Black Metal type markings that don’t seem to match up with any breed. Upside down cross? Mariner’s fan? Possible Hybrid? Prehistoric creature?
Can you help identify, so we know what we are up against? The house had sat unattended for only a few months before we moved in.
Signature: Frazzled Francine

Giant House Spider

Dear Frazzled Francine,
We don’t know what species of Spider you photographed, but your letter amuses us to no end.  We will post and feature your photo in the hopes that our readers will provide comments, suggestions and possibly an identification.

Giant House Spider, according to Karl
Hi Daniel and Frazzled Francine:
The photo is not very clear so I am not certain but I think this is probably a Giant House Spider (Tegenaria duellica = T. gigantea), a Funnel Weaver in the family Agelenidae. It is a European species that has been established in the Pacific Northwest and southern BC since early in the 20th century (I believe Canada can be blamed for this accidental introduction).  It is closely related to the smaller Hobo Spider (T. agrestis), another introduced European species that has acquired a reputation, that may or may not be deserved, for causing injurious bites to humans. Although the Giant House Spider is certainly capable of inflicting a bite if provoked, it is considered to be non-aggressive and not dangerous to humans. The dorsal markings on the abdomen are variable but I found several images that resemble yours. There is a lot of online information if you want to read more. Regards.  Karl

Thank you! Fantastic! Just to be clear; not dangerous? I’ll take a blistery, swelling bite over a fatal bite anytime!
Andrea

Letter 5 – Giant House Spider from the UK

 

Subject: My new pet spider. What is he (or she)?
Location: Epsom, England, UK
September 18, 2015 5:47 am
I live in the UK and this little fella or gal has been popping up at various places around my home for the past two weeks. Would love to know what type of spider it is.
Thanks
Signature: Joe, UK

Giant House Spider
Giant House Spider

Dear Joe,
We identified your “pet” as a Giant House Spider,
Tegenaria gigantea, and according to Nature Spot:  “Females can reach 18 mm in length, with males having a slightly smaller body at around 12 mm to 15 mm in length. The female leg span is typically around 45 mm. The leg span of the male is highly variable, with spans between 25 mm to 75 mm being common. The Giant House-spider has the same colouration as the Domestic House-spider; it has earthy tones of brown and muddy red or yellow and a pattern of various sooty markings. They also have conspicuously hairy legs and abdomen.”  According to UK Safari:  “They become more noticeable in autumn, which is their mating season.  The males are often seen scuttling across a room or falling into bath tubs as they move around in search of a female.  The males have longer legs than the females, while the females have broader abdomens than the males.”

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.

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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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12 thoughts on “Types of Common House Spiders: A Friendly Guide”

  1. I’m not an expert, but this spider doesn’t look like a recluse to me, if I’m seeing it right the eye pattern doesn’t match up? That and the long palps make it look more like a male Southern House Spider to me. http://bugguide.net/node/view/47644

    It looks like link to the other commenter’s “recluse” got moved to Kukulcania too.

    Reply
  2. Hi there,
    this is actually a male Kukulcania (southern house spider). The way the pedipalps stick way out in front of the head of the spider is characteristic of males of this species. The “violin” marking is also much smaller than in an actual brown recluse.

    – Catherine Scott

    Reply
  3. Hi there,
    this is actually a male Kukulcania (southern house spider). The way the pedipalps stick way out in front of the head of the spider is characteristic of males of this species. The “violin” marking is also much smaller than in an actual brown recluse.

    – Catherine Scott

    Reply

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