I live in southern WV and I found this spider in my bath tub last night. I caught it and threw it off the balcony. I didnt harm it. I always try to save spiders but after researching, I'm wondering if this may be a brown recluse and do i need to spray? I have a 5-year old in the house.
Raleigh County West Virginia
Thank you for your question. Identifying spiders, based on just a photograph can be very difficult, because you often can't make out distinguishing characteristics like number of eyes and eye placement from most photographs. That being said, the spider in your photograph is definitely not a brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa). I can tell by the markings and body shape and spines on the legs. Also, West Virginia is not in the native range of the brown recluse, and while it is always possible that someone from West Virginia visited an area where this species is common, and it hitched a ride back to West Virginia in boxes or camping equipment, for example, verified reports of brown recluse outside their native range are not very common.
I have forwarded your photographs to an arachnologist to get his opinion on what your spider may be. As soon as I hear back from him, I will be back in touch.
Thank you. I'm glad I didn't kill it.
Hello again. I heard back from my arachnologist contact, Dr. Richard Bradley, author of the book, Common Spiders of North America. He believes your spider is definitely in the genus Pisaurina and the species is very likely Pisaurina mira. The common name for this spider is the nursery web spider.
This species belongs to the family Pisauridae - the nursery web spiders and fishing spiders. According to Dr. Bradley's book, the spiders in this family exhibit extended parental protection to their spiderlings. Females carry their egg case beneath their body. When the eggs are ready to hatch, the female builds a nursery for her young. She uses a folded leaf or other structure as a roof and then fills the area below with a strong tangle of silk threads. She will place her egg sac in the middle of the threads. The female then stands guard near the nursery. When the eggs hatch, the spiderlings remain in the nursery for a week or more, molt and then disperse.
Your spider is a fairly common home invader, and is usually found in areas with higher humidity such as bathrooms, bath tubs, shower stalls, sinks, damp basements or cellars.
Here's a link to the University of Michigan's Animal Diversity Web where you can read more about this species:
Hope this information helps, and thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.