Parson spiders, unlike their web-building counterparts, orbweavers, are ground spiders that seek out prey and hunt on the prowl. Usually active at night and taking shelter in leaves or underneath stones during the day, seventeen different genera can be found across America.
However, parson spiders are perhaps the most commonly encountered of all these species as they look for warm areas to hibernate come wintertime – often entering human dwellings!
Parson spiders: Identification.
Herpyllus ecclesiasticus, or the “parson spider,” is an aptly named arachnid distinguished by its abundant black and gray hairs that cover its body. Its chestnut-brown exoskeleton is visible on its legs, while a small white spot lies just above the spinnerets – resembling the cravat worn in centuries past. These spiders are tiny; females measure 1/3 to 1/5 inches long, whereas males average 6 millimeters.
Parson Spiders: Behavior.
Parson spiders are expertly adept at concealment during the day, usually hiding in rolled leaves, under bark, or stones. But watch out for them when night falls; these spiders can scurry about with tremendous speed and agility! To evade predators, Parson spiders will often run in a zigzag fashion making it difficult to catch them, even when encountered indoors.
In the fall, female parson spiders lay down white egg sacs beneath tree bark and logs – offering protection from potential danger as this is where they stay to hibernate until springtime comes back around again.
Further recommended reading about spiders.
Spider pages: Learn how to identify and avoid these spiders.