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Sowbug Killer Spider (Dysdera crocata)

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

 Updated: 8/13/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Sowbug Killer Spider  
Picture of Sowbug-Killer-Spider
Picture of Sowbug-Killer-Spider

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.

Sowbug Killer Spider Information

Category: Spider
Common Name: Sowbug Killer Spider
Scientific Name: Dysdera crocata
Other Name(s): Woodlouse Spider, Woodlouse Hunter

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Arachnida
    Arrow graphic Order: Araneae
     Arrow graphic Family: Dysderidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Dysdera
       Arrow graphic Species: crocata

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 9 mm to 15 mm (0.351 inches to 0.585 inches)
Identifying Colors: brown; red; yellow; ivory; orange; purple; tan
Additional Descriptors: jaws, biting, venomous

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; 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; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that 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. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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