January 2016 - House Spiders

A Common House Spider - Tegenaria sp.



There are several different house spiders that we may come across in our homes, outbuildings, or even wood pile but the most disliked are the largest of the house spiders, which belong to one of the Tegeneria species. Interestingly, Tegeneria means 'mat' which refers to the thick sheet type web in which they trap their insect prey. The web is usually built in a neglected corner, and at its rear is a tubular retreat where the spider waits for prey. These creatures may remain in the same position for many days or weeks waiting for prey, and can survive many months without food or water.

Although these spiders are in our homes all year round, autumn is the time of year when you see them scuttling across the room, and when they are most found in your bath or sink. These more adventurous spiders are usually males and in search of a mate, as autumn is mating season. If you are interested enough to determine whether the spider you find in your home is a male or female, there are differences - the male has longer legs, the female has a broader abdomen. In addition, the male has sex organs on its palps (sensory organs on the heads of all spiders) for transferring sperm to the female. The palps of the male look a bit like boxing gloves. Sometimes you will see a spider running across the room and then stop for a while and be still. It is not really watching you; it is merely tired and in need of a breather; scuttling is energetic business. Once the male finds a female he will stay with her several weeks. The female will not kill the male spider - but when he dies, which usually happens after the mating season, she will eat him. The female may survive until the next year. The young which hatch from egg sacs, resemble tiny adult spiders, and will reach maturity within a year.

Although not liked and in fact feared by a large proportion of the population, house spiders are not dangerous and do not usually bite. In fact they provide a service by dealing with insects which may also gain access, or be living in, our homes.

If you want to get rid of spiders, please do not wash them down the plug hole, or suck them up in the vacuum cleaner. The right way of removing an unwanted spider is to place a glass over it and slide a piece of card underneath, making sure not to hurt the legs, then remove it and release it into the garden or outbuilding.




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