Living with spiders

Blog post by Norfolk Wildlife Trust on 24 Oct, 2020
For some people, the slightest glimpse of a spider is enough to inspire shrieks of fear. Some newspapers take full advantage of this notoriety, and every autumn there’s a surge of stories about spiders “invading” our homes, usually focussing on the largest species or those (often incorrectly) thought to be dangerous.  

The truth is spiders live alongside us all year round and this is something to celebrate, not fear. These amazing animals are a vital part of our ecosystems, feeding on an astounding number of insects. It's estimated that across the world, spiders eat between 400 and 800 million tons of insects and other invertebrates a year. Many of the insects they eat are considered pests of food crops, garden plants and even people, so having spiders around is a great natural alternative to pesticides.  

Some spiders have found their perfect home in our houses, hiding away behind furniture and hunting the other invertebrates that find their way inside, from house flies to wasps and mosquitoes. They tend to keep themselves to themselves, preferring dark corners where they can live in peace. But in late summer and early autumn some spiders become more active as males reach maturity and seek out a female to woo.  

The fear of spiders often comes from worries about being bitten, fuelled by urban legends and hyped-up headlines. In reality, very few spiders in the UK are even capable of biting a person, and the small number that can rarely do. So, the next time you spot a spider sheltering in the corner of a room, give it a wave and say keep up the good work! 

Here are some of the spiders you might find in your home...


House spiders (Eratigena or Tegenaria species)

These are the familiar large, hairy spiders sometimes seen running across your floor at night. There are several different species of house spider, which are tricky to tell apart! They’re all large and brown with very long legs, and spin sheets of webs in out-of-the-way corners. Photo credit: Dr Malcolm Storey

Cellar spider (Pholcus phalangioides

These thin, gangly spiders are also likely to be familiar. Also known as daddy long-legs spiders, they often make webs in corners where walls meet the ceiling. They spend most of the day sat very still, but if disturbed they have two very different reactions. Some curl up into a ball and try to be invisible, but others vibrate manically in an attempt to frighten you off. They’re superb predators and eat other spiders, including their siblings! Photo credit: Brian Eversham


Mouse spider (Scotophaeus blackwalli

These spiders get their name from the covering of tiny grey hairs on their abdomen (the rear part of the body), which looks a bit like mouse fur. The front of their body and legs are browner. They’re often found in houses and gardens, where they mostly hunt at night. Instead of making a web, they wander around looking for small insects to ambush. Photo credit: Brian Eversham


Spitting spider (Scytodes thoracica

These small spiders are often found in houses in the south of England, though are rarer further north. They’re straw-coloured with black flecks all over the body and legs. They come out at night to hunt insects. When they find a target, they spray it with a sticky fluid that glues their prey to the floor, making it easier for this slow-moving spider to approach safely. Photo credit: Brian Eversham


Noble false widow spider (Steatoda nobilis

These are the spiders that get most of the bad press. Noble false widows aren’t native to the UK, but have been here for over a century, slowly spreading northwards from the south coast. They’re dark brown with cream markings on their abdomen. They make messy webs in corners, like a house spider. Although they can bite, they are not aggressive and are only likely to do so if roughly handled. In the rare confirmed cases where a noble false widow has bitten someone, the bite has been compared to a wasp sting.
Photo credit: Jane Adams

Header image: Cellar spider by Tom Hibbert

Share this

Latest Blog Posts

Day Flying Moths Day Flying Moths
by Robert Morgan on 17 Jul, 2021
Bishop's Garden July Update: From Moths to Wild Flowers Bishop's Garden July Update...
by Barry Madden on 15 Jul, 2021
Swift Awareness Week Swift Awareness Week
by Sarah Gibson on 01 Jul, 2021
Exploring Living Landscapes: Finding Common Ground and connecting young people with nature Exploring Living Landscapes...
by Meg Watts on 24 Jun, 2021
A 30 Days Wild Minibeast Hunt A 30 Days Wild Minibeast Hunt
by The Wildlife Trusts on 17 Jun, 2021
Secrets of the Water Vole Secrets of the Water Vole
by Kelly Hollings on 10 Jun, 2021
Wild Gardening for Small Budgets & Spaces Wild Gardening for Small Bu...
by Meg Watts on 03 Jun, 2021
Bishop's Garden May Update: A World of Wild Flowers Bishop's Garden May Update:...
by Barry Madden on 27 May, 2021
Walking the Eastern Coast Walking the Eastern Coast
by Katy Ellis on 20 May, 2021
Good for us, Good for Nature Good for us, Good for Nature
by Robert Morgan on 13 May, 2021
Take a stroll with us for National Walking Month Take a stroll with us for N...
by Chloe Webb on 06 May, 2021
International Dawn Chorus Day 2021 International Dawn Chorus D...
by Robert Morgan on 29 Apr, 2021
The Humble House Sparrow The Humble House Sparrow
by Tom Hibbert on 15 Apr, 2021
Bishop's Garden March Update: A Haven for Birds Bishop's Garden March Updat...
by Barry Madden on 01 Apr, 2021
Meet our Diversity Intern Meet our Diversity Intern
by Meg Watts on 25 Mar, 2021
Growing Wild in the City Growing Wild in the City
by Sam Garland on 11 Mar, 2021
International Women's Day 2021: Women in conservation International Women's Day 2...
by Meg Watts on 08 Mar, 2021
World Book Day 2021 World Book Day 2021
by Chloe Webb on 04 Mar, 2021
Identifying diving ducks Identifying diving ducks
by The Wildlife Trusts on 11 Jan, 2021
Remembering Richard Waddingham – farmer and pond conservationist Remembering Richard Wadding...
by Helen Baczkowska on 17 Dec, 2020
Wild verges Wild verges
by Sam Brown on 08 Dec, 2020
Thwaite Common bird box project Thwaite Common bird box pro...
by John Snape on 30 Nov, 2020
Jewels of the autumn Jewels of the autumn
by Ian Senior on 20 Nov, 2020
Walking again at Thorpe Marshes Walking again at Thorpe Mar...
by Chris Durdin on 06 Nov, 2020