Dysdera Crocata – Woodlouse Spider

As the name suggests, the dysdera crocata, or commonly called woodlouse spider, primarily preys on woodlice. The spider can be found all around the world. In the United States, it is mostly seen in the states along the East Coast until Wisconsin and the Mississippi River. Signification population also exist on the West Coast from Washinton to California.

Woodlouse Hunter
The woodlouse spider. Photo: K.J.Ester – Madison Heights, Michigan

Description of the Woodlouse Spider

The woodlouse hunter has long legs and large fangs. Since it is a hunter spider, these fangs are needed to pierce through the tough exosceleton of its favorite prey: woodlice. They have a reddish cephalothorax and legs and a light-brown abdomen.

Abdomen – Oblong smooth but dull look to it. Usually a cream or tan color.

Cephalothorax – Near the same size as the Abdomen. Has a dark brick red color with large chelicerae (fangs).

Size

Female woodlouse spiders grow up to 0.6 inches (15mm) and male specimen up to 0,4 inches (10mm). Including its legs, the spider can reach twice that size.

Woodlouse Spider found in Arizona
A Woodlouse Spider found in Yarnell, AZ. Photo: Amy

Web

As a hunter spider, the woodlouse spider does not spin a web in order to catch its prey. It can usually be found in areas where woodlice appear and hunts at night.

Woodlouse Hunter Bite

As for most other spider species in the United States, a bite of the woodlouse hunter is slightly painful and may lead to some itchyness or redness. But other than that, there is no actual harm to humans or pets.

However, the woodlouse hunter can have a similar appearance to the venomous and dangerous brown recluse spider. In case of uncertainty or if you feel strange, it is better to still consult a professional after being bitten from what appears to be a woodlouse hunter.

Scientific Classification of Dysdera crocata

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Infraorder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Dysderidae
  • Genus: Dydera
  • Species: Dysdera crocata

Common Names

Next to its most common name woodlouse spider, the Dysdera crocata spider is also referred to under the following names: woodlouse hunter, sowbug hunter, pillbug hunter, slater spider, sowbug killer.

Distribution of the Woodlouse Spider in the USA

The woodlouse spider can be found along the east coast, east of the Mississippi river and along the West coast from Washington to South California. The woodlouse hunter can be found in the following states: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

Woodlouse Spider
Photography by: Michelle Doerstling – Arlington, Virginia
Dysdera Crocata - Woodlouse Hunter
Photography by: Mitch Walters – Lexington, Kentucky
Dysdera Crocata – Woodlouse Spider

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