Tag Archives: Long-bodied Cellar Spider

Spider Season Draws To A Close

I know a great many people will be glad to know large spider numbers will be returning to normal at last this autumn season. The mating season for House Spiders, Garden (Cross) Spiders and Steatoda nobilis False Widows is almost up. What this means is that the females won’t be releasing pheremones into the air to attract mates, so long-legged males won’t be running about the place and entering houses looking for love. For anyone afraid of those big spiders, then maybe you need to make friends with the thin, daddy-long-legs like Rafter Spiders (Pholcus phalangioides), aka Long-bodied Cellar Spiders, which live in houses and specialise in eating spiders:

A Long-bodied Cellar Spider eating a much larger House Spider which it has caught in a web. They will also happily eat False Widows... and anything else.
A Rafter Spider eating a much larger House Spider which it has caught in a web. They will also happily eat False Widows… and anything else.

Rafter Spiders seem to be a relatively recent arrival in Europe. In the Middle East they live in caves and produce the curtain-like webs normally seen in adventure movies. They are harmless to humans but their haphazard barely noticeable webs are considered a nuisance by housekeepers as they collect dust and easily collapse.

The method used by the spider to kill bigger spiders is amazing to watch. The Rafter Spider spots its prey at the other end of a room and carefully stalks towards it, usually walking upside down along the ceiling. It then gets into a pouncing position, pulling its body back against the tension of its long legs and then suddenly shooting forward to strike at a leg. The victim is paralysed almost immediately and falls, but is snatched by the predator before it can strike the ground.

A Rafter Spider with a Tripwire Spider, Segestria senoculata it has killed.
A Rafter Spider with a Tripwire Spider, Segestria senoculata it has killed.

The False Widow killer

A lot of people are writing to me asking what is the best way of deterring False Widows from entering their houses. Well, if you’re an arachnophobe it’s not pretty, because it is another spider. Many of you will have the Long-bodied Cellar Spider (Pholcus phalangioides) in your houses. Many people call it the ‘daddy-long-legs’ spider because it is so skinny. However, this spider actively hunts and eats other spiders, no matter how big or venomous they are. If it sees one at the other end of the room it will make directly for the spider and I have personally witnessed them killing huge House Spiders. It even eats true Black Widow spiders and below you can see a photo of one carting off a False Widow it has just killed. But this spider is completely harmless to human beings and does not bite.

'I'll have mine to go!' A Long-bodied Cellar Spider carrying away a False Widow it killed a short time earlier. These spindly spiders specialise in eating other spiders. You name it, they'll eat it.
‘I’ll have mine to go!’ A Long-bodied Cellar Spider carrying away a False Widow it killed a short time earlier. These spindly spiders specialise in eating other spiders. You name it, they’ll eat it.