The 10 Most Common House Spiders to Look Out For, According to Experts

common house spiders
The Most Common House Spiders to KnowCBCK-Christine - Getty Images

Spotting a spider in your immediate vicinity can be a little intense, especially if you have a major fear of the creepy crawlers. And, when one shows up in your home, it can be downright freaky. With so many kinds of eight-legged bugs running around (nearly 3,000 species in North America alone!), the most common house spiders are bound to pop up in your abode from time to time. And with different species come different levels of concern—which makes learning how to identify the critters important.

Know this: It can actually be a good thing to have spiders around. “The majority of the spiders cause us no harm and are predators of pests,” says entomologist Roberto M. Pereira, Ph.D., an insect research scientist with the University of Florida. Translation: They get rid of other bugs—like roaches, flies, and millipedes—that you also do not want to deal with.

Meet the Experts: Emma Grace Crumbley, entomologist for Mosquito Squad; Roberto M. Pereira, Ph.D., entomologist and insect research scientist with the University of Florida; Marc Potzler, a board-certified entomologist and technical services manager with Ehrlich Pest Control; Howard Russell, an entomologist at Michigan State University.

Still, some can be a little more problematic than others—especially when considering potential spider bites (see: how to treat a spider bite). Here are some of the most common house spiders you might see, how to identify them, and whether they’re potentially harmful.

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American house spider

What they look like: These spiders are on the smaller side—about the size of a nickel—and have a round abdomen. They’re also usually gray and will have some white markings, says Marc Potzler, a board-certified entomologist and technical services manager with Ehrlich Pest Control. “Their web often looks very tangled or messy,” he adds.

Where you’ll find them: They like to hang out in dark, concealed areas. “They hide in corners, underneath cabinets, in basements, sometimes in garages around the windows where flies may be active,” Potzler says.

Can they harm you? Nope.

House Spider
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Wolf spider

What they look like: With over 200 species of wolf spiders crawling around, it’s no wonder that they range in size and appearance. “The largest species can be up to an inch and a half long,” explains Potzler. Wolf spiders come in the following colors: gray, brown, or black. And, since they’re hairy they can sometimes be mistaken for tarantulas. Also worth noting: “These are nomadic spiders that don’t spin webs to catch their prey—they hunt them down,” says Howard Russell, an entomologist at Michigan State University.

Where you’ll find them: You can find wolf spiders where other insects reside—like garages, basements, sheds, and other dark, enclosed areas, according to Potzler. And since insects frequent the outdoors as well, you can also find wolf spiders outside in various locations: In our around debris, underneath boards, or in gaps around your home.

Can they harm you? No: Russell assures that these spiders “would prefer to hide than bite.”

Wolf Spider
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Black widow

What they look like: The infamous black widow has a shiny black color along with their signature, red hourglass-shaped marking on their underside, explains Potzler. “They may also have red markings going up its back,” he adds.

Where you’ll find them: Black widows prefer to dwell in places containing edges and corners, as well as tall grass, Russell notes. You can also find them hiding in mailboxes or garages, he adds.

Can they harm you? “This is one of the few species of spider that can be dangerous to people,” says Potzler. “There are approximately 2,200 bites reported each year, but there has not been a death related to a widow spider in the U.S. since 1983.” Intense pain, muscle stiffness, possible nausea, and vomiting are the telltale signs of a black widow spider bite, and these symptoms will likely occur within a few hours after being bitten, Potzler explains. Head to the ER ASAP if you suspect you’ve been bitten to get immediate treatment.

Black widow spider
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Brown recluse

What they look like: The brown recluse is a brown spider with a distinct “violin-shaped marking” on the top of its head and down its back, Potzler says. Also, brown recluse spiders have six eyes, instead of the eight that many other spiders have.

Where you’ll find them: The brown recluse likes to hang out in undisturbed corners of homes, in sheds, and in basements or cellars. “Many bites occur because the spider is hiding in folded towels and sheets, underneath a pile of clothes on the floor, or in shoes in a closet,” Potzler says. “If you live in an area where brown recluse is common, it’s a good idea to shake out your clothes and shoes, or wear gloves if you are working in your shed or garage.”

Can they harm you? Yes. “The recluse can cause serious damage to people,” says Pereira. “Bite sites are a serious problem.” A brown recluse bite can cause necrotizing wounds (meaning, it kills the cells and tissues around it), so you’ll want to see a doctor immediately if you think you’ve been bitten by one, Russell says.

Brown Recluse Spider
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Daddy longlegs

What they look like: You’re probably pretty familiar with this one, but just in case: It has one round body part and very thin, long legs coming off of it.

Where you’ll find them: They like to live outside, they can sometimes hide under siding or be found on and under decks. “For the most part, you’ll find them on the lawn or up in trees,” says Potzler.

Can they harm you? No. “Contrary to myths found on the Internet, daddy longlegs are not venomous enough to kill a horse,” says Potzler. “They do not have venom glands. They pose no harm to humans.”

Daddy Long Legs Spider
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Hobo spider

What they look like: Hobo spiders are tannish-brown and the top of the spider may look mottled, with darker and lighter spots, Potzler says. They look pretty hairy and have spiny hairs coming off the legs.

Where you’ll find them: While they’re usually outside, they sometimes venture indoors. “It can hide in clothing, beds, and shoes,” Potzler says.

Can they harm you? Yes. “The hobo spider can inflict a painful bite that results in localized red swelling and some pain, but no necrotic lesion,” Potzler says. Usually, symptoms will get better within 24 hours with OTC painkillers and ice.

Active house spider
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Jumping spider

What they look like: There are more than 300 species of these, and they all look a little different. “Their colors can vary from solid black with distinctive markings, to striped like a zebra, and some have iridescent markings,” Potzler says. “They are most easily distinguished by their very large, front middle set of eyes, although most people probably don’t want to get close enough to look at their eyes.”

Where you’ll find them: They can be just about anywhere in your house. They don’t build webs, but they’re what Potzler calls “active daytime hunters” so you can spot them at any time. “You may see them both inside climbing walls or ceilings, or hanging out in attics, or outside scaling buildings and trees,” he says.

Can they harm you? Not really. While Russell says these spiders “may bite in defense,” it shouldn’t cause any issues for you.

Jumping Spider
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Yellow sac spider

What they look like: The spider will build a tent-like structure out of silk. “They hide in the sac during the day and then hunt at night,” Potzler says. They’re usually a pale beige or yellowish color and have a dark V shape on its body.

Where you’ll find them: Their webs are usually found at the top of the wall where it meets the ceiling or corner, Potzler says. He’s found them most often in living spaces, like living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens.

Can they harm you? It’s not common for these spiders to bite “but there have been some reports of hospitalizations for individuals who have compromised immune systems or pre-existing health conditions,” Potzler says.

Cheiracanthium punctorium (
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Orb weaver spiders

What they look like: These are the spiders that build huge webs that you can see in the morning covered in dew. “Orb weavers spin their web each day and then tear it down and rebuild the next day,” Potzler says. They can have spiny or smooth abdomens, and they’re usually brown or gray. However, there are tons of species and some can be difficult to distinguish from other spiders.

Where you’ll find them: They like to build their webs where they’re most likely to grab flying insects, Potzler says. They may build webs on decks or the exterior of your house, especially if you have outside lighting (which attracts the flying insects they like to eat).

Can they harm you? Not really. While they can bite, it won’t usually cause an issue for most people, Potzler says.

Argiope spider on dew covered web
erniedecker - Getty Images

Grass spiders

What they look like: It’s a “very ordinary-looking” brown spider, Potzler says. It can be confused with the brown recluse, but grass spiders have long spinnerets (finger-like appendages at the end of the abdomen), which the brown recluse does not have, he says.

Where you’ll find them: They tend to like to hang out around the foundations of homes, but Potzler says that sometimes males will find their way inside while looking for a mate.

Can they harm you? They can bite but “there are no reported cases of medical significance,” Potzler says.

Grass Spider (Agelenopsis) on a Verical Sandstone Wall on the Eastern Plains of Colorado
rkhphoto - Getty Images

How to get rid of spiders

Spiders are relatively easy pests to get rid of, says Emma Grace Crumbley, entomologist for Mosquito Squad. “They do not have wings and cannot fly away, and while some spiders are speedy and can jump to avoid threats, most spiders are slow-moving enough to either trap them or squish them.” While it’s true that bug sprays will kill spiders on contact, the risk of spraying and missing the spider now leaves pesticide on the walls, floor, ceiling, or wherever you sprayed it, says Crumbley, so she doesn’t recommend using a chemical aid in your removal plan.

Sans chemicals, here are a few ways you can get rid of spiders that Crumbley approves of:

1. Catch & Release

When possible, Crumbley advocates for catching spiders and releasing them back outdoors. “Spiders are beneficial bugs that help control other pest insects such as flies, adult mosquitoes, ants, etc.” Capture and release can look like using a cup and a piece of paper to capture and move the spider outdoors or handling the spider and manually placing it outside the home (to the comfort of the person), she suggests.

2. The Boot Method

This one feels pretty self-explanatory, says Crumbley. “My advice, try not to squish spiders on walls or carpets as they may leave a stain,” she says. Also, while this method may be a knee-jerk reaction, remember that spiders are nimble. You may lose the spider in the chase and be left with a greater anxiety of where the spider managed to scurry off to, she warns.

3. The Paper Towel Method

Again, pretty self-explanatory—just replace the word “boot” with “paper towel.” Keep in mind that if the spider is identified as dangerous to human health (like a black widow or brown recluse), then proceed with caution in disposing of it, says Crumbley.

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When should you call someone about a spider problem?

The good news is that spiders are easy to control yourself, says Crumbley. If you are not comfortable or able to address spider concerns however, many pest control companies offer spider control as an included part of their service.

To prevent spiders from taking over an area of the home, the easiest solution is to keep that area tidy and check on it routinely. Again, this may already be the norm for living rooms and bedrooms, but extra care should be taken for crawl spaces, basements, attics, garages, and other less looked after areas, says Crumbley. “Other prevention tips include ensuring your home’s foundation is not letting spiders inside. Common house spiders can wander into homes through tiny cracks and gaps around doors and windows. Sealing these gaps makes it harder for spiders to get in.”

Crumbley explains that control of spiders comes in two forms: knocking down webs and removing their food sources:

  • Webs can be knocked down with brooms or long dusting wands. Knocking down webs cleans up the appearance of the home and removes any spiders in the web as well.

  • Removing spider food sources may mean controlling for other pests they eat. If you have a bad roach or fly problem, that may also attract spiders and lead to an infestation. In this instance, it’s a good idea to call a professional pest control company.

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