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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



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



Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect biting icon
Venomous insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Theridiidae
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          Genus: Parasteatoda
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            Species: tepidariorum
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Parasteatoda tepidariorum
Other Name(s): Cobweb Spider, House Spider, Domestic Spider
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 4mm to 6mm (0.15" to 0.23")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; tan; black, white
Descriptors: mottled, speckled, biting, venomous

American-House-Spider Video(s)




An American House Spider wrapping its live prey in spider silk.
American House Spiders in a courtship ritual.
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Range Between 4mm and 6mm
Lo: 4mm
Md: 5mm
Hi: 6mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the American House Spider may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the American House Spider. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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