Southern House Spiders
The males and females of this species exhibit very different physical appearances. Females are charcoal gray and their body, including the leg span, is about 2 inches in diameter. The male spider has long legs, but is smaller than the female and is khaki or amber in color. Homeowners often report the females look like small tarantulas, while males are mistakenly thought to be brown recluse spiders. When compared to the brown recluse however, male southern house spiders are generally larger and the violin shape on their back is narrower than the brown recluse’s violin shape. Also, the southern house spider has eight eyes, while the brown recluse has only six eyes. However, it is best that your pest management professional confirms this characteristic in order to avoid any erroneous identification.
Behavior, Diet & Habit
Southern house spiders are frequently associated with human habitations. They build their webs from cracks and crevices on the exterior of homes, barns and other structures. Other preferred areas of protective habitat include under stones, loose tree bark and logs. This species can be found in yucca plants over the portion of their distribution where the yucca plant is found.
Females may live up to eight years, but the life span of the male spider is much shorter. Most of the time when a southern house spider is seen it is a male since the females are reclusive and spend most of their time spinning webs in secluded areas and capturing prey insects and other small spiders.
A mated female lays about 200 eggs, wrapping them loosely in a silken egg sac that is roughly in 5/8 inch in diameter. Southern house spiderlings are considered “social” arachnids since they exhibit sibling recognition, cooperate with each other to capture prey, feed socially and disperse in aggregations after leaving their mother’s web.
Signs Of An Infestation
Presence of adult spiders, their immature spiderlings, egg sacs and webs are signs of an infestation.
Distribution of the southern house spider includes the southern states from the Atlantic Coast westward to New Mexico, Arizona, California and northward into Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina.
Preventing a southern house spider infestation begins with making sure the spiders’ food source is kept to a minimum and that holes, cracks and gaps in the home’s doors, windows and foundation are properly sealed to help prevent entrance into the home’s living space. In addition, removing ground litter that serves as harborage for spiders is also helpful. Should the homeowner need assistance to control these or any other spiders, contact your pest management professional and request an inspection. Your pest management professional can then use his or inspection findings to prepare a comprehensive pest management plan that will effectively and efficiently deal with the specific pest problem.
While the southern house spider is a large spider (the female is about 2 inches wide with its legs fully extended), their bite is relatively harmless and the spider is not considered to be aggressive since they have very poor eyesight.
In some parts of its distribution area, the southern house spider is also known as the southern crevice spider.