A great many spider species can be found throughout the large state of Texas, including species of tarantula, widow spiders, recluse spiders and house spiders. One common genus of spider that is abundant in Texas is known as Scytodes. These spiders are well distributed in tropical areas all over the world as well as in subtropical areas in the southern United States and Europe. Scytodes spiders can also be found in northern US regions, but to survive in these habitats they often need to establish an indoor presence during bouts of harsh weather. In fact, these spiders are even able to maintain habitats in Scandinavia, but only because they have adapted to living within human dwellings.
One of the most commonly encountered Scytodes spider species in the US is Scytodes thoracica. Considering this spider’s natural instinct to enter homes and buildings, it is not surprising that a survey of S. thoracica sightings all occurred indoors, and not one single sighting occurred outdoors. Although these spiders do not closely resemble recluse spiders, many people still mistake Scytodes spiders for recluse spiders given the similar eye arrangement of both spider genuses. There exists at least eight other relatively less common Scytodes spiders in the USA, all of which are likely endemic to the southern states. Scytodes spiders are commonly referred to as “spitting spiders”, as these spiders subdue their prey by spitting a substance that causes their bodies to constrict. Unsurprisingly, many homeowners contact pest control professionals in order to have the Scytodes thoracica species eradicated from their home. While this species may be venomous, its fangs are believed to be too small to penetrate human skin, making them harmless to humans. Spitting spiders are solitary and aggressive, which prompts males into slowly approaching females lest they be mistaken for prey and consequently killed. These spiders are a component of indoor ecosystems, and they are preyed upon by domestic house spiders, cats, and pest control efforts on the part of humans to keep their indoor presence minimal. Spitting spiders have a pale yellow exterior and long legs, making them appear relatively large, and they move about houses at night in search of prey. The Scytodes thoracica is most often found within cupboards, cellars, closets and dark corners, and females can live for a period exceeding two years.
Do you believe that you have spotted a spitting spider within your home?