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Parson Spider (Herpyllus ecclesiasticus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Parson Spider



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A houseguest like the black and white Parson Spider is thought to be a blessing to some and a bother to others.



Updated: 07/07/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The white stripe on the abdomen of the black Parson Spider resembles the cravat, or ruffled neck tie, commonly used by men of the clergy in the 18th century. This is a medium-sized, hairy spider, and it is wickedly fast. The Parson Spider does not spin a web to catch prey; it is part of the Ground Spider family. Instead, it roams the ground and walls, usually at night, searching for insects to eat. It is an ambush predator, running up to and quickly biting insects it comes across. During the day, a Parson Spider takes cover under rocks, boards, and other debris. It is typically a woodland spider, but sometimes venture indoors and is frequently seen in homes and buildings.

While the Parson Spider's venom is not lethal, this particular species has a bite that has caused an allergic reaction in some people. It is most likely to bite when trapped between clothing and skin, or between bedding and skin. Most people consider it a nuisance, but it does consume many of the common household pests that can populate a home. It does not infest homes, so some people leave it alone, letting it do its thing. Many people shoo it back outside to return it to its natural habitat.




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: Arachnidae
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          Genus: Herpyllus
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            Species: ecclesiasticus
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Herpyllus ecclesiasticus
Other Name(s): Eastern Parson Spider
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 20mm (0.39" to 0.78")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; brown; ivory
Descriptors: cross, biting, venomous
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 10mm (0.4in) and 20mm (0.8in)
Lo: 10mm
Md: 15mm
Hi: 20mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Parson 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 Parson Spider. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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