Parasteatoda tepidariorum (Common House Spider)

About Parasteatoda tepidariorum

Taxonomic Hierarchy

→ Kingdom: Animalia
→ Phylum: Arthropoda
→ Class: Arachnida
→ Order: Araneae
→ Family: Theridiidae
→ Genus: Parasteatoda
→ Species: Parasteatoda tepidariorum

Common Name (Official / AAS)

Common House Spider

Other Common Names

American House Spider, Cobweb Spider, Comb-footed Spider, House Spider

Author

Author of species name: Carl Ludwig Koch. First year published: 1841, as Theridion tepidariorum.

Pronunciation

pair-uh-stee-uh-TOE-duh teh-pid-air-ee-OR-um

Meaning

The genus name is a combination of the Greek prefix para-, meaning “beside, near” and the genus Steatoda. Prefixes like that are sometimes added to existing genus names in order to form new names for related genera. The name Steatoda literally means “tallowy” in Greek, but it’s assumed that Carl Sundevall was going for something more like “rotund.” The specific epithet, tepidariorum, is a Latin combination that we believe means something like “from the greenhouse (from the warm house)” or “warm area.” C. L. Koch first noticed this species was common in greenhouses at the botanical garden of the University of Erlangen in Germany, so that must be why he chose that name.

Notable Previous Names

Achaearanea tepidariorum
Theridion tepidariorum

Identifying Traits of Parasteatoda tepidariorum

Size

Body length (excluding legs) of adult female ranges from 5-9 mm; adult males range from 4-5 mm.

Female Primary Colors

Male Primary Colors

Eye diagram of Parasteatoda tepidariorum

Eyes

Total of eight eyes. When viewed from the front, they appear as two rows of four. Bottom (anterior) row is very slightly recurved (curved downwards). Top (posterior) row is procurved. See eye diagram for clarification. The secondary eyes may appear white or silver because of a light-reflecting, crystalline structure inside them called a “tapetum.” In spiders, the anterior median eyes (middle pair in the bottom row) are considered the primary eyes, while the others are considered “secondary.”

Legs

Front pair of legs is longest, third pair shortest, typical of the family Theridiidae. Legs long and thin in proportion to body and lack obvious spines. Legs of females and immatures are distinctly annulated (banded) yellowish brown and dark brown. Legs of mature males may be unicolorous and orange or reddish brown. The tarsi (tips of legs) have 3 claws.

Body

Range of Parasteatoda tepidariorum

Parasteatoda tepidariorum can be found in the following states, provinces and territories across the United States and Canada. Our current understanding of each spider's distribution is drawn from numerous scientific publications and online spider submissions, in order to be as accurate as possible. It is important to remember that spiders do not adhere to the territorial lines decided on by humans, therefore these ranges are subject to change.

United States

Canada

Additional Information

Habitat

As the name implies, this species is closely associated with buildings and other human structures. Typically more common outdoors, but they are sometimes found inside garages and sheds, as well. Also look for them in tree holes, rock walls, woodpiles, and other sheltered situations.

Web

This species spins a rather extensive, tangled, three-dimensional “cobweb” snare. The lines anchored to the ground (or lowermost substrate) are the trap lines. Insects, or other spiders, that trip the lines become entangled. The spider then throws silk over the victim and hoists it into the body of the web where the prey is helpless to free itself. Flying insects may also be intercepted by the body of the web. At rest, the spider usually retires to the uppermost reaches of the web, hanging upside down with legs drawn close to the body. The spider may also rest upside down in the body of its web.

Season

Mature individuals may be found at nearly any time of year. Egg sacs may be more common in summer and fall.

Food

Prey is almost any insect or spider or other very small animal that becomes entangled in the snare. This species is quite the athlete, often subduing prey that is much, much larger than itself. We have personally witnessed prey to include other spiders such as the foldingdoor spider, Antrodiaetus pacificus, and even small lizards. Guarisco (1988) documented this spider feeding on a Sphodros fitchi, a species of purseweb spider.

Lifecycle

Egg sacs are common in the webs of females. They may produce as many as 17 in their lifetime (Bonnet 1935), but most average around 10 egg sacs. Each sac is oval or teardrop-shaped, about 6-9 mm in diameter, and covered in brown or beige, papery silk. Typically, anywhere from 100 to 500 individual eggs may be inside each one. Some of the eggs are unfertilized, which the mother does intentionally: the spiderlings will feed on them while they’re still confined to the egg sac. Females are fairly tolerant of males and will allow them to live in the same web for long periods before and after mating takes place. Adult males will also sometimes stay with immature females, awaiting their final molt into sexual maturity. Mature females may live over a year after reaching maturity; males do not last very long after mating.

Remarks

This species is frequently mistaken for the Brown Widow, Latrodectus geometricus, but only the widows have a red or orange hourglass marking on the underside. Cobweb spiders in the genus Tidarren are also relatively similar-looking in color and shape and could be mistaken for Parasteatoda tepidariorum, as well.

Pictures of Parasteatoda tepidariorum (Common House Spider)

Filtering options are grayed out when we do not have pictures for the given perspective. If you are a spider photographer, you can submit pictures of spiders to help fill any voids in our ever expanding library.
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs, Lateral
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Lateral
  • City/Region: Mercer County
  • State: West Virginia
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs, Spiderlings, Webs
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Gravid, Lateral
  • State: Kentucky
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs, Lateral, Webs
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Eyes
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Spiderlings, Ventral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: Male, FemaleMale, Female
  • Maturity: Adult, Immature
  • Attributes: Lateral, Webs
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Ventral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Gravid, Ventral, Webs
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: Male, FemaleMale, Female
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral, Ventral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: Male, FemaleMale, Female
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral, Ventral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs, Gravid, Lateral, Webs
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Eyes, Gravid
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Gravid
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Egg Sacs, Lateral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs, Lateral, Spiderlings, Webs
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Gravid, Lateral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal, Spiderlings
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Dorsal
  • City/Region: Krain
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs, Spiderlings
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs, Spiderlings
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral, Webs
  • City/Region: Kirkland
  • State: Washington
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: Male, FemaleMale, Female
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Lodi
  • State: California
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Bastavales, Brión
  • Country: Spain
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Beltsville
  • State: Maryland
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Immature
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: MaleMale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Egg Sacs, Eyes
  • City/Region: Gwinnett County
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States
  • Parasteatoda tepidariorum
  • Sex: FemaleFemale
  • Maturity: Adult
  • Attributes: Lateral
  • City/Region: Gwinnett County
  • State: Georgia
  • Country: United States

References and Further Reading

Various Research Papers

Scientific Diagrams and Keys for Identification

References for the Casual Reader

Species guide last updated: May 30, 2016

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