Common Spider Species

The majority of spiders in South Africa don't cause much harm. They are unpleasant to look at and their webs can cause a mess. From Button to Common House Spider, we can give you more information about these creatures to help you get over your fears.

See out tips on what you can do to prevent spiders in your home.

Please note that although spiders aren't included as part of our service package; you may find the information and advice regarding spiders useful.

Black House Spider

(Badumna insignis)

"CSIRO ScienceImage 2018 A Black House Spider" by CSIRO. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CSIRO_ScienceImage_2018_A_Black_House_Spider.jpg#/media/File:CSIRO_ScienceImage_2018_A_Black_House_Spider.jpg

Appearance

  • This species is a robust spider, 1-1.5cm in body length.
  • Carapace and legs are dark brown to black and the abdomen is charcoal grey. The dorsal pattern of white marking is sometimes indistinct.

Lifecycle

  • The female constructs several white silk eggs sacs, which are secured within the web retreat. The female stays with the eggs until they hatch. The spider lings then disperse.
  • The spiders mature during the summertime and live for about two years.

Habits

  • Black house spider webs form untidy, lacy sheets with funnel like entrances. They are found on tree trunks, logs, rock walls, and buildings (also in window frames and crevices).
  • Commonly also found in urban areas, Black House Spiders also build webs in dark corners of windows, veranda’s, sheds of fences.
  • The female spider never leaves her web unless forced to, but keeps on repairing it – old webs can look grey and woolly from the constant additions of silk.
  • Poisonous but no fatalities.

Common House Spider

(Family Diaspidae)
Common house spider

Appearance

  • Adult – body length excluding legs 6mm - 9.5mm. Yellow brown body with faint markings. Abdomen pale grey brown with short hairs.

Lifecycle

  • The egg sac produced by the female is spherical, covered with a layer of silk and placed within the web structure.
  • The male will mate several times with the female before dying.
  • Adults may live for several years.

Habits

  • Found in buildings, sheds and walls.
  • This spider produces a sheet web.

Daddy Long Legs Spider

(Pholcus phalangioides)

Appearance

  • 7-9mm long
  • Characterised by having very long legs

Lifecycle

  • The female lays eggs, and may sometimes hold her eggs in her palps (short, leg like structures attached to the front of the cephalothorax, between the fangs and the first pair of legs)

Habits

  • The spin a loose web in sheltered areas, often in and around human habitation including houses, garages and sheds.
  • Apart from the nuisance of their webs, they do no harm and are non-toxic.
  • They are common in urban areas.
  • They feed on insects and other spiders.

Funnel Web Spider

(Hadronyche cerberea)

Funnel Web Spider (Hadronyche cerberea)

Appearance

  • A large, bulky spider, with females reaching over 35mm in body length and males around 25mm
  • The head region is characteristically glossy black, while the abdomen is dark brown or purplish in colour. The body and legs are covered with fine hairs

Lifecycle

  • Males reach sexual maturity at four years of age, females a year later.
  • The female produces an egg sac containing a hundred or so eggs and stores this in her burrow until the spiderlings hatch.
  • Males usually die some 6-8 months after reaching maturity, while females may continue to breed for several more years.
  • Males usually die after mating.

Habits

  • Their main diet consists of insects, although items as large as frogs and lizards may also be taken
  • Funnel Web bites may be fatal to humans

Garden Orb-Weaving Spider

(Eriophora spp)

"Eriophora sp PMR" by JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eriophora_sp_PMR.jpg#/media/File:Eriophora_sp_PMR.jpg

Appearance

  • The commonly seen Garden Orb Weavers are 1-2.5cm in length. Most are stout , reddish – brown or grey spiders with a leaf shaped pattern on their triangular abdomens.

Lifecycle

  • The female Orb Weaver lays her eggs in late summer to autumn. The eggs are encased in a fluffy cocoon and attached to foliage.
  • During autumn, the spiderlings disperse by ballooning (floating on the breeze using small silk strands as “balloons”), and build their own tiny orb webs among vegetation.
  • The lifespan is about twelve is about twelve months. They mature in summer, mate, lay their eggs, and die in late summer-autumn.

Habits

  • Make suspended, sticky, wheel – shaped orb webs.
  • Hides on foliage during day and constructs web at night.
  • Not aggressive.
  • Flying insects such as flies, beetles and bugs (including large prey like cicadas) are common prey.
  • Orb Weavers are reluctant to bite humans. Symptoms are usually negligible or mid local pain, numbness and swelling.

Harvestman Spider

(Phalangium opilio)
Harvestman spider

Appearance

  • Adult – 3-9.5mm body. The upper body surface has light grey/brown pattern, the lower surface is typically cream.

Lifecycle

  • The females lay eggs in moist soil.
  • The eggs survive through winter and hatch in the spring.
  • Only one batch of eggs is laid each year.

Habits

  • They climb tree trunks or look for food on the ground.
  • They feed on many soft bodied arthropods, including aphids, caterpillars, beetle larvae, and small slugs.

Huntsman Spider

Delena spp, Holconia spp, Neosparass, US spp, Olios spp
Huntsman spider

Appearance

  • Come in a variety of colours and patterns but are mostly brown, black and grey.
  • Some species are very large reaching over 160mm in leg span.
  • The two back pairs of legs are shorter than the ones at the front and the legs fan out sideways enabling them to walk forwards and sideways often giving them a crab-like appearance.

Lifecycle

  • The female Huntsman produces a flat, oval egg sac of whte papery silk and lays up to 200 eggs. She then places it under bark or a rock and stand guard over it, without eating, for about three weeks.
  • The appropriate time, the mother spider opens the egg sac to help her spiderlings out and she may stay with her spiderlings for several weeks.
  • The lifespan of most Huntsman species is about two years or more.

Habits

  • Huntsman spiders are usually found on tree trunks, under bank, beneath stones or on the walls of houses. Some species are extremely compressed and live between the hairline cracks of sandstone and granite outcrops.
  • The huntsman eats a variety of insects, arthropods, small lizards and frogs. The prey is not captured in a web but actively stalked and run-down with stealth and speed.
  • Poisonous to humans but not fatal.

Trap Door Spider

(Misgolas rapax)
Trapdoor Spider (Misgolas rapax)

Appearance

  • Often confused with the Funnel Web spiders the brown trapdoor can be distinguished by its chocolate brown coloration, less robust body and the presence of distinct boxing glove-shaped palps in the males (these are the appendages at the front of the head between the first pair of legs).
  • The body and legs are covered in tiny hairs.
  • The female is around 35mm in length, while the male is usually around 20mm and of a slimmer body.

Lifecycle

  • Male trapdoor spiders leave their burrows in search of a mate during humid weather. The male dies shortly after mating with the female
  • The eggs are kept in a cocoon
  • After hatching the spiderlings stay in the burrow for some time and eventually emerge to disperse and fend for themselves

Habits

  • Trapdoor spiders dig a burrow in the ground that is lined with silk, though, despite their common name, this species does not construct a lid. They use these burrows to raise their young and for protection. Burrows may reach 250mm in depth and around 25mm in width. Some of the trapdoor spiders dig simple, tube-like burrows, while others excavate additional side tunnels for extra hiding places.
  • Trapdoor spiders eat a variety of insects and other arthropods. The spider waits inside the burrow
  • Bites are not fatal to humans, but local pain and swelling may occur

Wolf Spider

(Trochosa ruricola)

Wolf Spider (Trochosa ruricola)

Appearance

  • Adult female: 21mm; male - 6mm. They are generally brown to grey in colour.

Lifecycle

  • Wolf spider mothers carry their egg sacs around with them attached to spinnerets under the abdomen.
  • When the young spiderlings hatch, they climb onto their mother's back where they live for the first few weeks of life.

Habits

  • They hunt at night but spend the day hidden amongst moss and decaying matter. 
  • They live in a shallow burrow, with an open and unadorned entrance.

Yellow Sac Spider

(Cheiracanthium)
Yellow Sac spider

Appearance

  • Pale in colour, abdomen can be yellow or beige with a faint dark stripe running lengthwise.
  • 6-9.5mm long
  • 4 pairs of legs, the 1st pair longer than the 4th.
  • Eight similarly-sized dark eyes arranged in two horizontal rows.

Lifecycle

  • A female produces around 5 egg sacs each with 30 to 48 eggs. The female may produce several egg masses during her lifetime.
  • Eggs are laid in Autumn
  • Spiderlings emerge the following Spring.
  • Approximately 30 percent of adult males get eaten by females after mating.

Habits

  • Feeding - usually small insects.
  • Location – They build a silken tube or sac (instead of a web) in a protected area which is used as their daytime retreat.
  • Externally this can be within a leaf or under logs; Indoors this can be or at the junction of a wall and ceiling or behind pictures and shelves. They are normally outdoor spiders, but will set-up indoors if there are small insects available. They are likely to enter homes during early Autumn when their outdoor food supply decreases.
  • Visibility - Adults can be seen from April through November. They emerge at night to look for food. They drop to the floor to seek cover when disturbed.
  • Bite - Their bite is sharp and painful and will cause erythema and swelling. A wheal may develop, producing a necrotic area which can take eight weeks to heal. Pain or numbness at the site of the bite may be followed by sweating and nausea lasting for up to 24 hours.

Button Spider

(Latrodectus indistinctus / Latrodectus geometricus) (also known as the ‘widow spider)

Button Spider (Latrodectus indistinctus / Latrodectus geometricus) also klnown as trhe window spider

Appearance

  • The brown button spider is around 38mm in length, while the black button spider is between 8-15mm in length. 
  • The black button spider, Latrodectus indistinctus, ranges from dark brown to black. Dorsally the abdomen can be scattered with orange or red flecks or can be unmarked. As the spider grows, the markings become undistinguished. 
  • The brown button spider, Latrodectus geometricus, varies from creamy yellow, greyish-brown, to dark brown-black in colour, but always has dorsal cream to orange and brown geometric patterns down the sides of the abdomen and characterised by the orange to red hourglass on the ventral side of the abdomen. 
  • The difference between the two spiders are that the brown button spider can be identified by its orange hour-glass marking on its underside, while the black button spider has the red stripe/s on the dorsal side at the end of the abdomen.

Lifecycle

  • The female constructs her funnel-shaped web, usually close to the ground in bushes or under debris. 
  • The female produces more than one egg sac per season during the summer months and are attached with silk to the side of the web. 
  • The brown button spider has a spiked egg sac, while the brown button spider’s is smooth. 
  • Spiderlings hatch after a week or more and one egg sac can contains over 100 spiders. They scatter by wind and build their own webs. 
  • They undergo between 7-9 moults before reaching adulthood and can live between 1 – 1.5 years.

Habits

  • The female frequently kills the male after mating, hence the common name "widow spiders". 
  • Button spiders are comb-footed spiders: they have bristles on their hind legs that they use to cover their prey with silk once it has been trapped. 
  • This spider eats insects including flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, woodlice, centipedes, millipedes as well as other spiders. 
  • Button prefer in quiet, dark places and seldom wander into houses. Most bites from button spiders occur when the spider are disturbed in its hiding place.

Violin Spider

(Loxoceles)

Violin spider - also known as the brown recluse spider

Appearance

  • This spider is 8mm in length with legs that are 18mm long. 
  • Hence its name, this spider bears the dark violin-shaped marking on its carapace, and its abdomen is flat and oval shaped. 
  • Adult violin spiders range from yellow to brown while younger spiders are lighter in colour.

Lifecycle

  • The female violin spiders produce around 45 - 60 eggs from three to four egg sacs. 
  • Eggs take around a month to hatch, and young spiders reach maturity in a year. 
  • Violin spiders live for around 3 years.

Habits

  • As Violin spiders prefer to roam around, their webs are usually constructed of a few silk strands underneath rocks or in caves. 
  • These spiders are found in the savannah or areas where caves or mines are predominant. 
  • Violin spiders rarely bite and will only do so when provoked.

Scorpions (1100 Species)

(Scorpions)

 Scorpion

Appearance

  • Adult - 12mm - 20cm. Colour varies with species, from yellow to black. Easily distinguished by their pincers and a long, segmented tail bearing a stinger.

Lifecycle

  • Scorpions have a long gestation period (from 2-18 months). Each female bears 25-35 young which climb onto to the mothers back. 
  • They remain on her back for a week or two after birth. Once they climb down they are independent, and take two to six years to reach maturity. 
  • The average scorpion lives three to five years, but some species can live up to 10-15 years.

Habits

  • Most scorpions are nocturnal. 
  • As well as in hot, dry areas, scorpions are found in grasslands, savannahs, caves and deciduous / mountain pine / rain forests. 
  • Scorpion venoms affect the victim’s nervous system. Each species has a unique mixture.