Common House Spider: How to Identify and Rid

The Common House spider is the stuff and movies and Halloween decorations. You’ll find their billowy webs in homes, sheds, and garages worldwide. Often considered a nuisance, the common house spider is also beneficial as a pest controller.

Common house spider
The Common house spider.

Common house spider: Description.

The common house spider comes in many muted shades, such as gray, tan, brown, or yellow. It also has darker skin patches or stripes running through its primary body color. The abdomen of the common house spider is higher than it is long and round in shape. Most common house spiders have darker-colored legs with bands or rings of color on them.

In the United States, females have yellow legs, and males have orange legs.

The larger female common house spider ranges from 0.12 to 0.18 inches. Due to their poor vision, these spiders usually do not flee from or even notice the approach of humans. Such poor vision is common among all web-weaving spiders.

There are over 200 species of common house spiders in the United States. The messy, billowy webs they construct easily identify them. These cobwebs function perfectly as entanglements for prey.

Common house spiders are part of the family Theridiidae (the widow family) and use their combed rear feet to pull silk from their spinnerets and toss it over entangled prey to immobilize them further.

Common house spiders
Common house spider.

Common house spider: Habitat.

One of the more interesting habits of the common house spider is the number of old, abandoned webs it leaves behind. The common web spider appears to randomly select locations to create a web, and then if they turn out to be unprofitable, quickly relocate their web to another site.

Inside your home, common house spiders build webs in the upper corners of bedrooms and living rooms, closets, sheds, garages, basements, crawl spaces, and even under your bed or behind your toilet.

Since most of the insects a common house spider preys on are drawn to natural light, they will build webs near windows.

Outside your home, common house spiders will create webs under eaves and within natural areas such as the entrance to a cave, hollowed logs, and barns and stables.

What do Common house spiders eat?

After the prey is entangled in its web, the common house spider will throw other silk over it and bind it securely and helplessly in a tight shroud of webbing. The spiders will then bite the immobilized victim and inject it with venom. The venom liquefies the prey’s internal organs and makes it easier for the common house spider to digest its meal.

The common house spider captures and eats flies, wasps, bees, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and other household nuisances in its web. Drained husks of prey get snipped from the web and fall to the ground below.

Predators of the common house spider.

Indoors, the greatest threat to the common house spider is you. While the spider is well-camouflaged, its web quickly grows dusty and visible and draws your attention to the spider’s presence. 

Outdoors, birds and reptiles are typical consumers of common house spiders.

Are the bites of common house spiders dangerous?

Finding a movie-set version of common house spiders in your basement might be unsettling and scary, but it isn’t dangerous. The bite and venom of the common house spider are not medically significant to non-allergic humans.

And with many common house spiders hanging around, you won’t have many roaches, flies, or wasps to hassle you.

However, like all spiders, you can get a common house spider to bite you—if you punch it hard enough. Before it will, however, it will try to run away or even feign being dead; just about anything to get you to leave it alone.

If you get bit, expect a bit of swelling and minor pain for the next two days.

It serves you right.

How to get rid of the common house spider.

Good housekeeping makes life very difficult for any spider in your house, but even more so for the common house spider. Every cobweb you clean is one last place for the spider to catch a meal. And properly secured and stacked items in storage offer no place for a web either.

You can also treat the inside and outside of your home with a proper spider-controlling product.

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Dennis V. Gilmore Jr.

Dennis V. Gilmore Jr. is a former Marine Sergeant and the author of several books, including two on night hunting coyotes and red and gray fox. He has written several hundred articles on predator hunting for

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