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Sowbug Killer Spider (Dysdera crocata)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Sowbug Killer Spider.

 Updated: 8/13/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The Sowbug Killer is adept at keeping the local Roly Poly (or Sowbug) population under control.



This spider's favorite meal is the sowbug, also known as pill bug, wood louse, or roly poly, depending on where you live. Their coloration can range from a red thorax and ivory abdomen to a more purple thorax and tan abdomen. They have six eyes and those are arranged in an oval shape. Females are almost twice as large as males.

This spider is an active hunter, but it does have a lair. Inside, the remains of previous meals are usually found. It does not form webs to catch its prey. Instead, it finds a prey item (sow bug) and uses its giant chelicerae (jaws) to stab it in an ambush attack. Their venom is not toxic, but some people may experience itching at the site of a spider bite. This spider is not aggressive, nor interested in humans so bites are not common.

They use their silk to strengthen their homes, which are usually built under rocks, moss or tree bark. They can be found anywhere: fields, parking lots, gardens, etc. They are equally at home in urban, suburban and rural areas as are their favorite prey item (sow bugs). Look for them in the spring and summer, when they are most active. It is believed they overwinter as adults and reproduce in the spring.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Dysderidae
          Genus: Dysdera
            Species: crocata
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Dysdera crocata
Other Name(s): Woodlouse Spider, Woodlouse Hunter
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 9mm to 15mm (0.35in to 0.59in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; red; yellow; ivory; orange; purple; tan
Descriptors: jaws, biting, venomous
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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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).