If you notice large hairy spiders lurking in dark corners in your house, don’t get too scared. Chances are that it’s the harmless giant house spider, which is actually quite a beneficial arachnid to have around the home. Read this article to find out what they look like, what their habits are, and how to get rid of them if they’re in your personal space.
What Are Giant House Spiders?
Eratigena atrica, popularly referred to as the giant house spider, is native to Europe and among the largest spiders in the central and northern parts of this continent. They are also common spiders in North Africa and Asia. However, the giant house spider has also made it to North America, and their numbers have steadily been increasing on this continent.
Giant house spiders are well-adapted to indoor living and are a common sight in Washington homes west of the Cascade Mountains, like Tacoma, as well as parts of coastal Canada and Oregon. You are most likely to spot them in mid-summer and early fall, which is their mating season. The giant house spider is highly mobile. In fact, up to 1987, they were classified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the fastest spiders on Earth. They can run up to half a meter in a second.
What Do Giant House Spiders Look Like?
Giant House Spiders are large spiders. Their bodies typically range from 1/2 inch to 1 inch in length, and males can have a leg span of up to 4 inches. Females have a smaller leg span of up to 2 inches. Like all other spider species, they have eight legs and a body that consists of two parts: a head region (cephalothorax) and an abdomen. Their bodies and legs are hairy and can range in color from dark orange to brown to gray. Their abdomen is typically mottled in brown, gray, or beige, and they have no bindings on their legs.
Their eight eyes, which are of equal size and arranged in two rows, can probably only distinguish between light and dark. These spiders also have pedipalps, which are two short arms between their front legs.
Giant house spiders are often mistaken for hobo spiders, which are aggressive spiders that are viewed as potentially dangerous to humans. For this reason, you should try to take note of their anatomical differences. Although it may be difficult to view the sternum of these spiders, giant house spiders have three to four pairs of light spots on their sternum, whereas hobo spiders have a light stripe that runs down the middle of the sternum. Also, the giant house spider is bigger than the hobo spider.
Common Habits of Giant House Spiders
Giant house spiders prefer to settle in dark areas and are often found in garages, basements, sheds, and outside in firewood or gaps between stones. Despite the fact that they’re super fast, these spiders aren’t very good climbers, so you may often see them on the floor or stuck in basins or bathtubs where they have ventured looking for water. Their webs can typically be seen in the corners of floors or ceilings, near window openings, or between boxes or other items in basements or attics.
They weave sheets of webbing with a funnel-like hole in the middle, where they sit and wait for their prey. Once prey gets stuck in the web, the spider runs toward it and attacks. If food sources are scarce, however, giant house spiders can survive without food or water for months. During the mating season, the males remain with their chosen females for a few weeks. They mate multiple times during this period until the males die and are eaten by the females.
Are Giant House Spiders a Threat?
These spiders pose no threat to humans or pets. They are not aggressive spiders, and they will try to escape or hide when they feel threatened. They also do not easily bite. In the unlikely event that you are bitten by a giant house spider, it will sting a little, but their venom will not harm you. Only in situations where people may have an allergic reaction should there be any cause for concern.
As is the case with most spiders, giant house spiders are actually beneficial because they feed on and contain household pests, like flies, cockroaches, moths, fleas, mosquitoes, and ants. In addition, giant house spiders can be an effective way to prevent hobo spiders from invading your home. Due to the fact that they likely compete for the same resources, giant house spiders attack and kill hobo spiders.
How to Control Giant House Spiders
Because the giant house spider is generally a beneficial arachnid in and around the house, there is no need to eliminate them. However, their size and appearance may make some people uncomfortable. If you wish to prevent them from entering your house, ensure that you seal cracks and crevices that provide access. Check for openings around window and door frames, water lines, gas pipes, and electric wiring. By keeping your home as insect-free as possible, you’ll limit their food source. Vacuum and sweep carpets and floors, wipe surfaces with vinegar, and dust all corners on a regular basis.
If you think that you have an infestation or you’re unsuccessful in getting rid of the giant house spiders in your home, it’s advisable to contact a professional pest control service for assistance. They will advise you on the preventative steps you can take and will eliminate spiders from your home in a humane and effective manner.