While black widows may technically be the most venomous and dangerous spider species that exists within Massachusetts, they are rarely found inside of homes. However, the same cannot be said for the Parasteatoda tepidariorum spider species, or the American house spider, as it is more commonly known. Common house spiders, like cellar spiders and cobweb spiders, are typically dismissed as being harmless to humans, and this assumption happens to be true when it comes to these two species. But this is certainly not the case when it comes to the American house spider, as this spider species is closely related to the black widow. Although the American house spider does not produce venom that is as potent as black widow venom, American house spider bites can still cause significant and lasting pain sensations that sometimes develop into systemic medical conditions. Perhaps most frightening, is this spider species’ habit of spending nearly all of its time within human dwellings where they often hide in obscure locations not far from a home’s occupants.

The Parasteatoda tepidariorum house spider species has a bulbous abdomen and a brown colored exterior that features small white and dark spots. These spiders can manage to avoid detection by a home’s occupants while also infesting homes in large number. This is partly due to the American house spider’s hunting behavior, which sees the spider maintain a motionless stance for long periods of time until their prey becomes entangled within their web. These spiders are not aggressive toward humans, but they will not hesitate to bite if they become surprised or improperly handled. However, instead of attacking, these spiders sometimes play dead when confronted with a threat. Their potent venom can cause around 16 straight hours of intense pain in humans who have sustained their bite. In rare cases, medical treatment becomes necessary following a bite. These spiders dwell in dark corners of homes where the build cobwebs to catch a variety of prey that range from ants to cockroaches.

Have you ever sustained a spider bite within your own home?