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American House Spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the American House Spider.

 Updated: 10/15/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The spindly-legged and very common American House Spider has an iconic spider shape and its messy cobweb is a silver-screen standard.



American House Spider Videos



An American House Spider wrapping its live prey in spider silk


American House Spiders in a courtship ritual

The webs created by American House Spiders are classic Halloween webs: tangled messes in all corners of the attic or windows. This type of web is called a cobweb. It is not uncommon for multiple females to have their webs in close proximity to one another. The presence of this spider adds a spooky atmosphere to old or abandoned buildings and homes.

The American House Spider is a Comb-Footed spider. It has long, skinny legs and comb-like hairs on the back tarsi ('ankles'). They fling strings of their spider silk at insects that get entangled in their web, furthering their entanglement. The victim is then bitten, injected with venom and eaten at a later time. It is moved from the web to allow other prey to fall into the trap. This spider can remain still for extremely long periods of time, waiting for prey and often avoiding notice from humans as well as insects.

They have a bulbous abdomen, neither spherical nor flat. Its brown coloring is speckled with white and dark patches and lines. This spider is small and inconspicuous, rarely bothering humans. They are not aggressive. They may opt to 'play dead' if threatened. If handled roughly though, they may bite, which can be painful for a day or so. Their venom is not lethal to humans unlike their close relative, the Black Widow.

Smaller males approach a female's web when ready to mate. A courtship 'dance' or ritual follows, ensuring the spiders do not attack each other. Females lay eggs in a pear-shaped, brown, papery egg case and hang it from the web. Mothers guard their eggs until they hatch and can live fore more than a year. Spiderlings may remain in the safety of their mother's web for a few days, but eventually disperse to find their own home.

American House Spiders are ubiquitous and help control insect populations. Look for them in corners on the floor or ceiling indoors and under eaves and overhangs outside. Or don't look for them, and allow these roommates to clean house for you.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Theridiidae
          Genus: Parasteatoda
            Species: tepidariorum
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Parasteatoda tepidariorum
Other Name(s): Cobweb Spider, House Spider, Domestic Spider
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 4mm to 6mm (0.16in to 0.23in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; tan; black, white
Descriptors: mottled, speckled, biting, venomous
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.




Spider Anatomy
Graphic showing basic parts of spider anatomy
1
Legs: Spiders have four pairs of legs and these are attached to the cephalothorax.
2
Pedipalps: Small appendages near the mouth used as taste and smell organs.
3
Cephalothorax: Contains eyes, head, mouthparts, and legs.
4
Abdomen: Contains various organs related to digestion, reproduction, and web-making.
5
Spinnerets: Used in the production of spider silk for fashioning webs or catching prey.
NOTE: Unlike insects, spiders have both an endoskeleton (internal) and exoskeleton (external).