Southern House Spider

Kukulcania Hibernalis

Last updated: January 6, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© postolocanu/Shutterstock.com

Female southern house spiders are almost twice the size of males!

Southern House Spider Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Arachnida
Order
Araneae
Family
Theridiidae
Genus
Kukulcania
Scientific Name
Kukulcania Hibernalis

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Southern House Spider Conservation Status

Southern House Spider Locations

Southern House Spider Locations

Southern House Spider Facts

Prey
Insects
Name Of Young
Spiderlings
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
Female southern house spiders are almost twice the size of males!
Most Distinctive Feature
Long extended legs
Other Name(s)
Crevice spider, southern crevice spider
Incubation Period
2-3 weeks
Litter Size
200
Habitat
Homes, sheds, porches, forests
Predators
Birds, lizards, large spiders
Diet
Carnivore
Lifestyle
  • Solitary
Slogan
Large web making house spider
Group
cluster

Southern House Spider Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Tan
Skin Type
Exoskeleton
Top Speed
-3 mph
Lifespan
up to 8 years
Venomous
Yes

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View all of the Southern House Spider images!



Southern house spiders are a large spider species that can be found in households throughout southeastern North America, the Caribbean, and South America. They are not aggressive toward humans and are generally not considered to be a major pest.

They are beneficial in many ways, as they help to control pest populations by catching and eating small insects such as flies, mosquitoes, and mites.

5 Incredible Southern House Spider Facts

  • Southern house spiders are dedicated mothers that lay between 150 to 200 eggs at a time and carefully wrap them in a loose egg silk sac for protection.
  • These common arachnids are often found in man-made structures, including houses. Despite their presence in our homes, these spiders are not dangerous or venomous to humans.
  • They are also known as crevice spiders or southern crevice spiders.
  • In addition to being good at catching prey, southern house spiders are also social creatures. They are known to display social behaviors, such as recognizing their siblings, and they even cooperate with each other when capturing food.
  • Despite their reputation for spinning webs, southern house spiders are also fast-moving creatures known to chase after their prey. While males are known to wander, females stay close to their webs and are not as mobile.

Southern House Spider Scientific Name

The scientific name for the southern house spider is Kukulcania hibernalis. This species belongs to the family Theridiidae, which includes many other well-known spider species, such as the black widow. 

The species is named after the Mayan god Kukulcan, who was associated with the creation of the world and the power of the sun. The specific epithet “Hibernalis” refers to the spider’s ability to survive through the winter months.

The southern house spider belongs to the genus Kukulcania and the family Theridiidae.

The family Theridiidae, also known as the tangle-web spiders, includes a diverse group of spiders found in various habitats worldwide. 

The genus Kukulcania includes several species of spiders, including the southern house spider. The southern house spider was originally classified in the genus Filistata but was later moved to the genus Kukulcania. The Filistatidae family is closely related to the Haplogynae, a group of primitive Araneomorphae spiders.

Southern House Spider’s Appearance

Southern house spider
Male southern house spiders have an amber hue, and are smaller than females, which are black or charcoal gray in color.

©Kala Stuwe/Shutterstock.com

Male and female southern house spiders look very different – especially in terms of size.

While females are charcoal gray in color and often resemble small tarantulas with their larger bodies, males have amber-colored bodies that are much slimmer and more slender. In fact, male southern house spiders are much smaller than females, with a body length of only 0.3 to 0.5 inches.

On the other hand, female southern house spiders are 0.5 to 0.7 inches in body length, have a more robust and rounded abdomen, and have a broader cephalothorax. Both sexes have very long legs that make them appear much larger. Including their legs, southern house spiders are around 2 inches in diameter.

Both males and females have eight eyes and eight legs and fine hairs covering their abdomen. So, the next time you see a southern house spider, take a closer look and see if you can identify whether it’s a male or a female!

Southern House Spider Evolution

Not much has been studied in terms of the evolution of the southern house spider in particular. But spiders, in general, are one of the first species to move from water to land. They probably evolved from their ancestors around 400 million years ago who emerged from the water. Most of the early spider fossils found belonged to the ​​Mesothelae and lived about 300 million years ago. These spiders differed from modern spiders in that their silk came from the middle of their abdomen instead of from the end – this trait seems to have developed around 250 million years ago. At this point, spiders were still ground-dwelling animals.

However, by the Jurassic period, spiders had become sophisticated enough to spin orb webs to trap flying insects – webs as we know them today. The earliest example of a fossilized orb web is thought to be around 110 million years old! But it’s likely this technology existed even 20 million years before that. This orb-weaving technology is theorized to have disappeared and reappeared with more modern spider species since this time.

Although there are not a lot of fossilized records or studies of spiders, it is thought that the modern spider evolved to be at least 30 million years ago.

Southern House Spider Behavior

The southern house spider (Kukulcania hibernalis) is solitary like most spider species, meaning it does not live in groups. However, it is known to form webs that span large areas, so multiple individuals may be seen occupying the same web, forming aggregations. These aggregations are called “colonies” and can contain up to several hundred spiders. In these colonies, individuals will be more tolerant of one another than when they are alone.

The southern house spider is not aggressive and usually retreats when threatened or disturbed. However, if provoked, they may bite, but their venom is not strong enough to cause serious harm to humans. These spiders, like many other spider species, rely on their webs to trap their prey.

Southern House Spider Habitat

As the name suggests, the southern house spider is found in the southern United States, including parts of Texas, Florida, and the Carolinas. They are also found throughout Central America, in some areas of the Caribbean, and in South America. These spiders are adapted to living in various environments, including in both urban and rural areas.

The southern house spider is well-suited to live in warm, humid climates. However, they do not have specific adaptations that allow them to thrive in this weather.

Southern house spiders do not migrate and generally stay in the same area for their entire lives. They are usually found in the upper levels of houses where it is easy for them to build a web. Despite their name, southern house spiders can also be found in outdoor areas such as gardens, sheds, forests, or other wild areas.

Southern House Spider Diet

The southern house spider is a carnivorous animal, meaning it feeds on other animals for sustenance.

Southern house spiders are opportunistic eaters. In other words, they do not have a set eating pattern, as they rely on prey availability in their environment. They may go for long periods without eating if they cannot catch enough insects to sustain themselves.

They can survive these extended periods without food by going into a state of inactivity called torpor, in which their metabolism slows down significantly.

What Eats The Southern House Spider?

Birds are one of the main predators of southern house spiders, as they are able to reach the upper levels of buildings and homes where these spiders are commonly found. 

Lizards, such as geckos and chameleons, may also eat southern house spiders if they come across them in their environment. Overall, a variety of animals may eat southern house spiders, but they are not a significant part of the diet of most predators.

What Does The Southern House Spider Eat?

Southern house spiders primarily eat insects. They build large webs in the corner of houses or areas that are likely to catch insects. These webs catch insects as they fly into it, and the spider then bites the prey, injecting its venom, which paralyzes and kills the animal. Some of the insects that may be part of the diet of the average southern house spider include:

  • Flies
  • Moths
  • Beetles
  • Ants
  • Cockroaches

Southern House Spider Predators And Threats

These spiders may become prey for other animals if they wander into the territory of a predator or if they are caught in a web spun by another larger spider.

Birds are one of the main predators of southern house spiders. Some species of birds, such as wrens and flycatchers, are known to hunt spiders and other insects as part of their diet. Lizards, such as geckos and chameleons, may also eat southern house spiders if they come across them in their environment.

Southern house spiders are not currently threatened by any environmental change. However, as they grow older, they can fall ill with various diseases. Humans may also pose a threat to southern house spiders as they generally live in urban areas.

Southern House Spider Reproduction

Males and females are not known to form long-term pair bonds. Instead, males will search for females to mate with and will court them by vibrating their webs and offering food gifts. If the female is receptive, she will allow the male to mate with her.

The incubation period for southern house spiders is not well studied, but it is thought to be relatively short, possibly lasting only a few weeks.

After mating, females will lay eggs in a silk-covered egg sac, which they will then attach to their web or hide in a safe location. The number of eggs in the egg sac can vary, but southern house spiders generally produce clutches of eggs, with an average of around 200 eggs per egg sac. The eggs hatch into tiny spiderlings, creatures that resemble adult spiders but are much smaller in size.

Southern House Spider Babies

The babies of southern house spiders are called spiderlings. They are too small to catch prey or build webs, so females usually take care of them. Spiderlings can walk and see but may be more vulnerable to predators due to their small size. After a few weeks, the spiderlings grow larger and leave their mother’s nest to continue their lifecycle. These spiderlings often form aggregations, or colonies, to help one another. They may recognize each other, cooperate with one another to catch food, and even feed together!

Southern House Spider Lifespan

When compared to other spiders, female southern house spiders have a very long lifespan of up to eight years. It is likely that some individual spiders may live longer or shorter than others, depending on factors such as their genetics, the availability of food and shelter, and their exposure to predators and other environmental threats. On the other hand, male southern house spiders do not live as long, as they do not have a solitary life and instead move around in search of food and females to mate with, which leaves them vulnerable to the elements and predation.

Southern House Spider Population

It is not known exactly how many southern house spiders there are in the world, as these spiders are not regularly studied. Therefore, there is no comprehensive data on their population size. However, they are considered a common and widespread species, and their conservation status is currently listed as least concern.

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About the Author

I have been a freelance writer for the past 2 years. I have a huge love of animals and I love building my knowledge of animals through research. I love sea creatures in particular, my favorite being the octopus because of their intelligence, and I mean, come on, what's not to love! I have a rescue boxer named Dante who is the friendliest pup a man could ask for.

Southern House Spider FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are southern house spiders carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?

Just like many other species of spiders, southern house spiders are carnivores.

Are southern house spiders harmful to humans?

Southern house spiders are generally not aggressive and will not bite humans unless they are provoked or feel threatened. Their venom is not toxic to humans, and any bites that do occur are usually not serious and only cause mild discomfort.

What time of year are southern house spiders most active?

During the summer, pests tend to be more active. So, southern house spiders actively search for food in warmer weather.

How big is the southern house spider?

Female southern house spiders have a larger body size than males at around .5 to .7 inches, and males are only around .3 to .5 inches. However, both species have long, extended legs that make them look bigger. Including their legs, these spiders are around 2 inches in diameter.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. ABC Blog, Available here: https://www.abchomeandcommercial.com/blog/southern-house-spider/
  2. Australian Museum, Available here: https://australian.museum/learn/animals/spiders/spider-origins/
  3. Insect Identification, Available here: https://www.insectidentification.org/insect-description.php?identification=Southern-House-Spider
  4. Ja-Roy Pest Control, Available here: https://ja-roy.com/pest-info/spiders/southern-house-spider/
  5. Kidadl, Available here: https://kidadl.com/facts/animals/southern-house-spider-facts
  6. Spider Identifications, Available here: https://spideridentifications.com/southern-house-spider.html
  7. University of Florida, Available here: https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/spiders/southern_house_spider.htm

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