Brown recluse? Southern house spider?

Asked September 29, 2020, 11:54 PM EDT

We've noticed a couple of scary looking spiders in our apartment in the last 2 nights and are not sure if we should be concerned about them and/or report them to our property management company. We took some photos of the one we caught tonight and are wondering if you could help us identify it. For scale: the short dimension of the wood floor planks is 2.25 inches. For context: we are located on the top floor of an old 3-story building; there are lots of crevices in the apartment where we often see smaller spiders, the first spider was found in the gap at the top of some molding while the second was crawling across the floor, we have a dog in the apartment, and the neighboring apartment was vacant for a couple of months but someone recently moved in.

Durham County North Carolina

3 Responses

Thank you for your question. It can be difficult to identify insects and spiders based solely on a photograph, because you often can't see characteristics necessary to make a positive identification. That being said, the spider in your photograph is definitely not a brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa).

This spider is a female Southern House Spider (Kukulkania hibernalis). It is also sometimes referred to as the Southern Hibernating Spider. This spider belongs to the Crevice Weaver family (Filistatidae). The female constructs a disorganized web with a central hole in the crevices of buildings. She stays in the back of the web during the day, and can be found sitting near the central hole in the web at night. The males are usually brown to khaki in color and do have a small violin-shaped marking on their cephalothroax (the portion of the body where the legs attach). They actively hunt like wolf spiders, and are often seen running around buildings. They are often mistaken for the brown recluse.

For information on the brown recluse, here is an excellent website:

https://spiders.ucr.edu/recluseid.html

For additional information on the Southern House Spider, here are a couple of good sites:

https://spiderid.com/spider/filistatidae/kukulcania/hibernalis/

https://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/spiders/southern_house_spider.htm

An excellent, and reasonably priced, field guide for common spiders in North and South Carolina is:

Gaddy, L.L. (2009). Spiders of the Carolinas. Duluth: Kollath + Stensaas Publishing.

I hope this answers your question, and thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.

Jim

Hi Jim,
We are so relieved to hear this! Thank you very much for taking the time to ID this and respond.
Best regards,
Grace

You're welcome! Contact us any time.

Jim