Eastern Parson Spider (Herpyllus ecclesiasticus)

25 April

A splendid little animal serendipitously sitting half way up the stairwell wall one evening so there’s an evens chance you have one or more in your house also. Commonly called the eastern parson spider, after the abdominal markings resembling an old-style cravat worn by clergy in the 18th century.

Individuals are covered with black hairs on the cephalothorax and gray hairs on the abdomen. On the back is the distinctive white mark that gives the species its common name; there is a small white spot above the spinnerets. During the day, individuals shelter in silken retreats. At night they hunt for prey and can move very fast. They run in a zigzag fashion to evade predators and so are hard to capture when seen in homes. Females deposit a white egg sac during the fall under the bark of trees and logs. They will also hibernate in these locations and protect the sac from predation.

Bites may be painful, and some individuals may experience an allergic reaction but there is no reason or liklihood of getting bitten if you each treat the other with respect and keep your distances – most bites occur when the spiders are trapped against the skin in clothing and bedding. Quite small, around a centimetre long.