House spider (Tegenaria domestica)

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House spider
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House spider fact file

House spider description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassArachnida
OrderAraneae
FamilyAgelenidae
GenusTegenaria (1)

The house spider (Tegenaria domestica) is probably the best known and perhaps the most hated of the British spiders, and is often encountered trapped in the bath (2). The house spider is fairly large and hairy with long legs. It varies in colour from pale to dark brown (4), with variable sooty markings on the abdomen, although some individuals can be uniform pale yellowish or grey. Male and female house spiders are similar in appearance, but males have a more slender abdomen and longer legs (3).

Size
Female length: 9 - 10 mm (2)
Male length: 6 - 9 mm (2)
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House spider biology

Although often detested, the house spider provides a service wherever it occurs, reducing the number of flies and other unwelcome insects from houses. It makes a flat sheet-like silk web, typically with a tubular retreat at one corner. These webs can become fairly large when undisturbed (2). When an insect falls onto the web, the spider dashes out from its retreat, seizes the prey and returns to the retreat to consume the meal (5).

Male house spiders are usually seen more often than females, as they wander widely in search of a mate (5). After a male has found a female's web he will stay with her for a number of weeks, mating with her repeatedly during this time. He then dies and the female eats him; the nutrients within the male contribute to the development of his young (6).

The word 'spider' derives from the Old English word 'spithra', which means 'spinner'. Spider webs have been used to heal wounds and staunch blood flow for many years (7).

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House spider range

Found all over the world, the house spider is common and widespread in Britain and Europe (3).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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House spider habitat

The house spider is found in houses and other buildings, including garden sheds (2).

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House spider status

The house spider is widespread and common (3).

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House spider threats

The house spider is not currently threatened.

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House spider conservation

Conservation action has not been targeted at the common house spider.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

Discover more about British spiders:

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Authentication

Information authenticated by Dr Peter Merrett of the British Arachnological Society:
http://www.britishspiders.org.uk/index.html

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Glossary

Abdomen
In arthropods (crustaceans, insects and arachnids) the abdomen is the hind region of the body, which is usually segmented to a degree (but not visibly in most spiders). In crustacea (e.g. crabs) some of the limbs attach to the abdomen; in insects the limbs are attached to the thorax (the part of the body nearest to the head) and not the abdomen. In vertebrates the abdomen is the part of the body that contains the internal organs (except the heart and lungs).
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References

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (January, 2003)
    http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Roberts, M.J. (1993) The Spiders of Great Britain and Ireland. Harley Books, Colchester.
  3. Roberts, M.J. (1995) Collins Field Guide- Spiders of Britain and Northern Europe. Harper Collins Publishers, London.
  4. Sterry, P. (1997) Complete British Wildlife Photo Guide. Harper Collins Publishers, London.
  5. Nichols, D., Cooke, J. and Whiteley, D. (1971) The Oxford Book of Invertebrates. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. BBC Wildfacts - House Spider (March, 2003)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/348.shtml
  7. Buczacki, S. (2002) Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn, London.
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House spider  
House spider

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