common house spider

(Parasteatoda tepidariorum)

Conservation Status
common house spider
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNA - Not Applicable

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Common house spider is a medium-sized colorful comb-footed spider. It has a cosmopolitan distribution, occurring on every continent except Antarctica. In the United States it is common east of the Great Plains and west of the Rocky Mountains, uncommon between. It is found in and around human dwellings, sheds, barns, and privies, in stables, under highway bridges, and in culverts.

Females are 316 to ¼ (5 to 6 mm) in length and have a legspan of to ¾ (15 to 20 mm). Males are smaller, to 316 (3.8 to 4.7 mm) in length.

The front part of the body (cephalothorax) is flat, short, slightly longer than wide, narrow in front, and highest in the middle. The upper side (carapace) is yellowish-brown, usually darker in the middle. It is shiny and has few hairs.

There are eight eyes arranged in two parallel rows of four eyes each. The front (anterior) row is slightly curved forward when viewed from the front, and the rear (posterior) row is straight or slightly curved backward when viewed from above. On each side the lateral eyes are widely separated from the middle (median) eyes and are almost touching each other. All of the eyes are small. The anterior median eyes (AMEs) are slightly larger and are dark, while the rest of the eyes are pearly. The jaws (chelicerae) have no teeth.

The abdomen is large and bulbous, higher than long, and pointed downward at the end. It is variable in color, dirty white or gray with white and dark brown to almost black patches markings. There is a dark horizontal line just before the highest point, white chevrons before the line, a white spot just behind the highest point, and dark chevrons behind the spot. On lighter individuals the markings are indistinct. On the male the abdomen is more slender.

The legs are medium-length, slender, and spiny, and have many hairs. On the female they are yellow with dark bands. On the male they are orangish. The first pair of legs is the longest, the third pair is the shortest. On the female, the fourth pair is longer than the second pair. On the male that is reversed, the second pair is longer than the fourth pair. There is a row of 6 to 10 slightly curved bristles (“comb”) on the last segment (tarsus) of each hind leg. This is the feature that gives the family one of its common names. There are three claws at the end of each tarsus, but these are not visible to the naked eye.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Female Body Length: 316 to ¼ (5 to 6 mm)

Male Body Length: to 316 (3.8 to 4.7 mm)

Legspan: to ¾ (15 to 20 mm)

 
     
 

Web

 
 

The spider constructs a web consisting of an irregular network of sticky strands. The web is often built in upper angles of rooms and in corners of window frames and doorways. The spider does not build a retreat.

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

In and around human dwellings, sheds, barns, and privies, in stables, under highway bridges, and in culverts.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Year-round when indoors. It cannot survive northern winters outdoors.

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

The spider hunts at night, hanging upside-down in the middle of the web. During the day it retreats into a corner or a crack.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

The egg sac is tan and pear-shaped. It is hung in the web.

 
     
 

Food

 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

24, 29, 30, 82.

 
  4/13/2022      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Very common in eastern United States, less common in Minnesota.

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Arachnida (arachnids)  
 

Order

Araneae (spiders)  
 

Suborder

Araneomorphae (typical spiders)  
  Infraorder Entelegynae (entelegyne spiders)  
  Superfamily Araneoidea (araneoid spiders)  
 

Family

Theridiidae (cobweb spiders)  
 

Genus

Parasteatoda (colorful comb-footed spiders)  
       
 

This spider was formerly classified as Theridium tepidariorum. In 1950 it was moved to the genus Parasteatoda, in 1955 to the genus Achaearanea, and in 2006 back to the resurrected genus Parasteatoda.

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

common house spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum australis)

common house spider (Parasteatoda tepidariorum tepidariorum)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Achaearanea tepidariorum

Steatoda tepidariorum

Theridion marmoreum

Theridion pallidum

Theridion tepidariorum

Theridion varium

Theridion vulgare

Theridium tepidariorum

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

American house spider

common house spider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Carapace

The hard, upper (dorsal), shell-like covering (exoskeleton) of the body or at least the thorax of many arthropods and of turtles and tortoises. On crustaceans, it covers the cephalothorax. On spiders, the top of the cephalothorax made from a series of fused sclerites.

 

Cephalothorax

The front part of the body of various arthropods, composed of the head region and the thoracic area fused together. Eyes, legs, and antennae are attached to this part.

 

Chelicerae

The pair of stout mouthparts, corresponding to jaws, in arachnids and other arthropods in the subphylum Chelicerata.

 

Tarsus

On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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Alfredo Colon

 
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Parasteatoda tepidariorum

 
Parasteatoda tepidariorum
Sean McCann
  Parasteatoda tepidariorum  

 

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  Alfredo Colon
8/6/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

common house spider  
  Alfredo Colon
8/2/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

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Created: 4/13/2022

Last Updated:

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