Cellar Spiders

By Chris Williams on February 26, 2014.
Pholcus Phalangioides cellar spider

The Pholcus Phalangioides (“Daddy Long Legs”)

I always love to bring you truly ‘exciting’ stuff about my real first love.  Yes I am a trained entomologist but one with a deep appreciation of that most fearsome of creatures the spider.  The cellar spider could hardly be considered fearsome in my estimation, but it sure can be a nuisance!

You’ve no doubt seen them in your basement or perhaps the garage.  These long bodied silvery gray colored spiders with their long spindly legs are also commonly known as ‘daddy long legs’ spiders‘.  They belong to the family known as Pholcidae.  Pholcus phalangiodes is by far the one I see most often in my basement.  It is sort of funny that while I see the other really common American house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum living both indoors and outside, I rarely, if ever see the cellar spider outside.   In fact, it seems that the cellar spider really thrives in those damp areas from where it derives its name.  These spiders make a loose cobweb type snare and unlike other species which will continually take down and replace their webs, this species just keeps on cranking them out.  This will often give a false impression of a ‘huge’ infestation when in fact there may only be a few spiders present.  Unlike some species of spider, the cellar spider is not medically important.  Its mouthparts are too small and weak to allow it to inject venom into humans.

The nuisance factor is however pretty high with the amount of webbing they leave behind creating a huge mess!  Controlling the humidity in basements, and crawlspaces can make these areas less desirable for cellar spiders, and of course chemical controls can further reduce their numbers.  Contact Colonial Pest Control for effective spider management.

Photo credit: Arthur Chapman / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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