When they’re in your house, itsy-bitsy spiders don’t always seem so itsy or bitsy. A lot of people actually mistake indoor insects for common house spiders, but spiders are not insects—they’re arachnids. The differences are pretty simple: Spiders have eight legs, not six. They also have two body segments while insects have three. Plus, unlike insects, they usually have eight eyes, no wings, and no antennae.
Scroll down to see some of the spiders you’re likely to find in your home.
What Do Common House Spiders Look Like?
Most of us know that not all spiders look alike, but we also don’t tend to look closely enough to know which spider is which. To effectively find and control common house spiders, though, it’s helpful to know which type you’re dealing with. Here’s how to tell them apart.
American House Spider (AKA Common House Spider)
What they look like: These brown, tan, and grayish spiders have dark brown, v-shaped markings on their bodies. Their legs will appear orange or yellow and can have dark rings at the end of each one. Some American house spiders may also have a black triangular marking on the top of their abdomen. Taking into account their long, thin legs and quarter-inch body, American house spiders are about the size of a nickel.
Where they live: American house spiders prefer damp areas such as basements and crawl spaces. They’re prolific web weavers because they will abandon their webs to create new ones. If you find yourself cleaning up cobwebs often, then it could be a sign you have common house spiders crawling about.
Don’t confuse them with: Because of its dark brown color, the American house spider is often mistaken for a venomous spider known as the brown recluse.
What they look like: Long and thin, these common house spiders are light tan or gray with darker markings, a cylindrical-shaped abdomen, and long, thread-like legs. When they crawl, they’re particularly slow and clumsy.
Where they live: Cellar spiders suspend themselves upside down in their webs and will shake if their web is disturbed. As their name suggests, they prefer cellar-like conditions: dark, cool, and moist. Look for cellar spiders near ceilings and floors of the basement and crawl spaces.
Don’t confuse them with: Sometimes called granddaddy longlegs, these thin-legged spiders may be confused with harvestmen.
Harvestmen (aka Daddy Longlegs)
What they look like: Small oval bodies and long, thin legs make harvestmen perhaps the most easily recognizable arachnid, though they are not technically spiders. Regardless, harvestmen are still considered a type of common house spider.
Where they live: They feed on both dead and live prey and require lots of water, so look for harvestmen in dark, damp spots like basement corners, crawl spaces, and underneath sinks.
Don’t confuse them with: Due to their long, thin legs, harvestmen are often mistaken for cellar spiders.
What they look like: Varying in color from gray to tan to brown to black with contrasting markings, wolf spiders are extremely hairy and have long legs that are excellent for running. They range in size from a pencil eraser to a silver dollar.
Where they live: These spiders are active hunters that stalk and ambush their prey instead of trapping them in webs. While they generally live outdoors, wolf spiders can easily find their way inside, too. Like other common house spiders, they prefer quiet, undisturbed places like basements, attics, and closets.
Don’t confuse them with: Although its fast moves are a distinguishing characteristic, the wolf spider is sometimes mistaken for the brown recluse spider.
What they look like: Hobo spiders have brown bodies with long, slightly darker brown, solid-colored legs. Their abdomen will have a distinct pattern of yellow markings on a grey background. They range from 1-2 inches long.Perhaps the thing that creeps people out the most about these spiders is they are fast runners. A hobo spider runs at an average speed of 17 inches per second, with a top speed of 40 inches per second.
Where they live: Hobo spiders have feet designed for walking on their funnel-shaped webs. They’re at a disadvantage indoors because their feet make it difficult for them to climb smooth surfaces. You’ll often find them crawling on the ground or struggling to climb out of a sink or bathtub.
Are Common House Spiders Dangerous?
Most spiders, including common house spiders, are harmless to humans. Though they do have venom glands, their venom is poisonous to prey, not people. Plus, few spiders actually bite humans. Of those that do, fatalities are rare, even among venomous species such as the black widow spider. Allergic reactions are possible, though, mostly in people with weakened immune systems.
How Do I Get Rid of Common House Spiders?
Common house spiders like to hide, which makes finding them difficult. But you don’t have to see spiders to get rid of them or keep others from coming inside. Follow these steps to reduce the number of spiders in your home:
- Repair torn screening, replace weather stripping, and caulk gaps, crevices, and other openings where common house spiders can enter.
- Sweep visible spider webs and silk with a broom, making sure to dispose of the sweepings outside.
- Eliminate clutter spots where common house spiders like to hide, such as storage boxes and cardboard piles.
- Get rid of the spiders you see by spraying them with Ortho® Home Defense® Ant, Roach & Spider Killer2. It kills both spiders and other listed insects and won’t stain or discolor.
- Kill the spiders you can’t see (not to mention many of the insects they commonly feed on) and create a bug barrier to keep new ones from coming in by applying fast-acting Ortho® Home Defense Max® Indoor Insect Barrier with Extended Reach Comfort Wand® along basement foundations, baseboards, closets, storage areas, and attics, as well as in cracks and gaps surrounding doors and windows. When applied according to label directions, this odor-free, non-staining spray will protect your home from common house spiders and other listed insects for up to 12 months*.
Every house, even the most well-maintained, has the potential for unwanted eight-legged guests—but you don’t have to put up with them. Use these tips to prevent common house spiders from turning your home into theirs.
*indoors on nonporous surfaces