Can you identify this spider

Asked January 22, 2019, 9:37 AM EST

Can you help us identify this spider, dropped onto my daughter in laws face. It’s body was bigger then a quarter. thank you

Lycoming County Pennsylvania

1 Response

The spider in the photo is Amaurobius ferox, which has no common name although the larger family it's in (Amaurobiidae) are collectively called hacklemesh weavers. This species is native to Europe but was introduced into North America in the 1870's and has since spread throughout the east. As with many introduced spiders, they're synanthropic, that is, they prefer to live in and around human dwellings, so they're often found in homes and buildings.

Adult females have been found year round, so probably live for at least two years and possibly longer. They build an irregular web in corners and tight spaces with a retreat tube and are rarely found outside of the web, usually in basements and other areas with minimal disturbance and human activity.

Males overwinter as immature spiderlings and die after mating, so only live for a year or less. The individual in the photo is a mature male and was probably out wandering in search of a mate.

Amaurobius ferox are generally reluctant to bite and do not have a medically important bite in the event a bite happens. In fact, even thought they're commonly found in homes in Europe and the eastern US, there is only a single recorded bite from this species. The person that was bitten experienced dull pain about as bad as a wasp sting that went away after two hours, with no other symptoms. The only bite recorded by a related species in the genus Callobius also resulted in mild pain, localized swelling, and redness that dissipated without treatment.