Common Spider Species

The majority of spiders cannot harm anyone. They are unpleasant to look at and their webs can cause a mess. From Tarantula to Common House Spider, we can give you more information about these creatures to help you get over your fears.

Black House Spider

(BADUMNA INSIGNIS)

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)

Appearance

  • Adult – body length excluding legs 1/4" – 3/8". 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)

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)

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)

Appearance

  • Adult – 1/8"– 3/8" 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

DELENASPP, HOLCONIASPP, NEOSPARASS, USSPP, OLIOSSPP

Appearance

  • Come in a variety of colours and patterns but are mostly brown, black and grey (there are over 100 species of Huntsman spiders in Australia).
  • 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 occur Australia-wide and 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.

Mouse Spider

(MISSULENA OCCATORIA)

Appearance

  • Mouse spiders are closely related to trapdoor and funnel web spiders but can be distinguished by their pronounced compact, squat and huge fang sheaths at the front of the head area.
  • Most species are dark brown or black in colour.
  • The body size reaches around 35mm, with the male being distinctly smaller and less robust.

Lifecycle

  • Male mouse spiders search for a mate once they reach maturity at around four years of age. Mating takes place in the female’s burrow, after which the male dies.
  • The female lays 60 or more eggs within an egg sac that she places into a brood chamber off the main shaft of her burrow. The spiderlings hatch from the egg sac over summer and remain with the mother into autumn when dispersal occurs.

Habits

  • Mouse spiders live in oval burrows up to a metre in length, often constructed in the banks of water courses. The females’s burrow usually has a hinged lid and is branched ‘Y’ shape. These spiders are common but are very secretive and rarely seen. Heavy rain often forces them out of their burrows and this is when they may be encountered.
  • The extremely large and robust fangs enable mouse spiders to overpower quite large food items. Even the thickest beetle shell is no match for these efficient weapons.
  • The venom is very toxic and, although no human deaths have ever been recorded, a bite from a mouse spider should be considered potentially life threatening and medical attention should be sought immediately.

Red Headed Mouse Spider

(MISSULENA INSIGNIS)

Appearance

  • The forepart of the cephalothorax of the male is red. The rest of the body is either dark brown or black in colour.
  • Mouse spiders are closely related to trapdoor and funnel-web spiders but can be distinguished by their pronounced compact, squat shape and huge fang sheaths at the front of the head area.
  • The body size reaches around 35mm, with the male being distinctly smaller and less robust.

Lifecycle

  • Male mouse spiders search for mate once they reach maturity at around four years of age. Mating takes place in the female’s burrow, after which the male dies.
  • The female lays 60 or more eggs within an egg sac that she places into a brood chamber off the main shaft of her burrow.
  • The spiderlings of the Red-headed Mouse Spider disperse by ballooning, a technique that is rare in mygalomorphs (the Mouse Spider Family).

Habits

  • Mouse spiders live in oval burrows up to a metre in length, often constructed in the banks of water courses. The female’s burrow usually has a hinged lid and is branched “Y” shape. These spiders are common but are very secretive and rarely seen. Heavy rain often forces them out of their burrows and this is when they may be encountered.
  • The extremely large and robust fangs enable mouse spiders to overpower quite large food items. Even the thickest beetle shell is no match of these efficient weapons.
  • The venom is very toxic and, although no human deaths have been recorded, a bite from a mouse spider should be considered potentially life threatening and medical attention should be sought immediately.

Redback Spider

(LATRODECTUS HASSELTI)

Appearance

  • The female red-back is black with a distinctive red or orange marking on its back, although this may sometimes be absent. These markings may be broken into spots in front and, sometimes, this white lines may be visible.
  • The female can grow up to 15mm long. Males are very small and usually only grow up to 5mm long.
  • The male has more complex markings than those of the female, incorporating white and sometimes yellow markings.

Lifecycle

  • Female red-backs take about 2-3 months to mature and can lay 3-8 egg sacs between September and May. Each sac can contain up to 300 eggs. However, most of the hatchlings do not survive because they are eaten by their siblings and are very prone to wasp parasitism.
  • Females may live for two to three years, whereas males only live for about six or seven months.

Habits

  • Commonly found in logs or under rocks in the bush as they tend to reside in dark, dry areas. In suburban regions, the re-back has been known to live under roof eaves, floorboards, shelves, flower pots or in garden sheds.
  • The web is a triangle of dry silk. The trap lines are sticky to assist with catching their prey.
  • Redback spiders are carnivorous eating almost any small insects that are caught in their webs. They will also eat skinks and even juvenile mice, snakes and frogs.

Scorpions (1100 Species)

(Scorpions)

Appearance

  • Adult -1/2" – 8". 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.

St Andrews Cross Spider

(ARGIOPE SPP.)

Appearance

  • This St Andrews Cross spider has a body length of 1-1.5cm and has bands across its abdomen.
  • It is famous for its zig-zag ribbons that form a full or partial cross through the centre of the web.

Lifecycle

  • The female suspends its pear-shaped egg sac in a network of threads, often among leaves where the sac’s greenish silk disguises it.
  • The lifespan is about twelve months.

Habits

  • The St Andrews Cross spiders use thick zigzag bands of silk in their webs that may attract insect prey by reflecting ultra violet light.
  • They make suspended, sticky, wheel – shaped orb webs. Webs are placed in low shrubby vegetation.
  • Their prey includes flies, moths, butterflies, bugs, and bees. These are usually secured by silk wrapping into a neat parcel before being bitten.
  • This spider is not considered to be harmful to humans.

Tarantulas

(GENUS APHONOPELMA)

Appearance

  • Adult body length excluding legs – 1"- 5". Most tarantulas have black or brown hairy bodies and legs but some species exhibit striking colours.

Lifecycle

  • Mating season is in autumn. Incubation of the young takes 6-9 weeks, with each female producing 500-1000 eggs into a silken cocoon. The young leave their burrow after 2-3 weeks.
  • Life span 25-40 years.

Habits

  • There are 60+ genii and 800+ species of tarantula.
  • Tarantulas prefer to live in dry, well-drained soil where they dig a burrow which is lined with silk webbing.

Trap Door 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

Tree 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

  • The habits of Tree Funnel Web spiders are similar to the Funnel Web (see Funnel Web spider) but it lives predominantly in trees. 
  • 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.

White-Tailed Spider

(Lampona cylindrata)

Appearance

  • They are generally dark red or grey with dark orange banded legs. 
  • Younger spiders can bear two pairs of faint white spots with a white spot at the tip. 
  • Males can grow up to 12mm and females up to 18mm.

Lifecycle

  • White-tailed spiders lay eggs in a disc-shaped egg sac, containing up to 90 eggs. 
  • They lay these sacs in dark and sheltered places where the the females guard their eggs until they hatch.

Habits

  • Commonly found underneath bark, rocks, leaf litter and logs in the bush and around the home and garden. 
  • They eat other spiders including daddy-long-legs, redbacks and black house spiders, and as such are most active at night when their prey is out hunting. 
  • They move indoors during summer and autumn where they look for shelter in nooks and crannies, searching for prey.

Wolf Spider

(TROCHOSA RURICOLA)

Appearance

  • Adult female: 5/16"; male - 1/4". 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.

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