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 populations also exist on the West Coast from Washington 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 exoskeleton 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. It Has a dark brick red color with large chelicerae (fangs).

Eyes

Unlike most other spiders who have eight eyes, the woodlouse hunter has six eyes, all located in the center of the frontal cephalothorax (head).

Dysdera crocata woodlouse hunter closeup eyes high resolution
A closeup of the eyes and fangs of a woodlouse hunter. Photo used with permission from Chase Noble.

Size

Female woodlouse spiders grow up to 0.6 inches (15 mm) and male specimen up to 0,4 inches (10 mm). 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 itchiness 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, sow bug hunter, pill bug hunter, slater spider, sow bug killer.

Distribution of the Woodlouse Spider in the USA

Dysdera Crocata – Woodlouse Spider range

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

39 thoughts on “Dysdera Crocata – Woodlouse Spider

  1. Greetings,
    This spider is a very red spider. Located near Madison wisconsin at a friends house. The grout over which the spider is walking is about 3/8”.
    What type is it please?
    Thank you.
    Regards.
    Katrina

  2. I found this spider in my house today. I am assuming, based on your responses above, that this is also a broad-faced sac spider. Is that correct?

    Thanks for your feedback.

    1. This was awhile ago, but this more like a woodlouse spider because of the wide mouthparts. They’re even less likely to bite, although they look scarier.

  3. We live in Spokane WA my sister by accident found it on the under side of a black bucket she picked up. Redish orange legs at first it looked like it had a Black body but once we put it into my nieces insect container that has a magnifying lens it has a lighter tanish brown body. I think it’s a woodland spider but not sure.

  4. Trying to figure out what kind of spider this is? Found in a basement bedroom in Washington State. Thank you!

  5. The attached photo is of a spider i found in my kitchen sink today. It appears to be the same type as shown after I answered the identification questions and selected a photo. Would you confirm that its the harmless type. Also is there specific type of bait or insecticide to catch spiders of this size. I think I was just lucky to spot in the kitchen sink – A bait set would have taken care of the intruder – Thanks in advance

  6. Wondering if you can help identify this spider. I am sorry for the poor picture quality. It was found inside my house in Boise, Idaho. Thank you.

  7. Would appreciate help identifying this spider. We live in Los Angeles. Found this guy on my sons bed. Not sure what type it is or if it’s harmful. Thank you.

    1. Hello Selena, thanks for getting in touch! Unfortunately, I can’t really identify the spider in your picture. It’s definitely not one of the very few medically significant spiders found in the U.S. – so it is nothing to worry about.

  8. Is this also a woodlouse spider? It looks a bit different than those in the other photos.
    I live in Ventura County CA. And this greeted me this morning literally at my front door.
    It had created a web that took up half of my courtyard – not a word to be found in it’s beautiful work!
    The spider is about 1 1/2 inches in length, maybe a little smaller but definitely not any bigger.
    Thank you so much!!
    I appreciate your expertise and information!
    Kelly~~

  9. Found this one when I moved my covers to go to bed. I live in northern Ohio. I’ve never seen a spider like this before in person, and I have an idea of what it could be but I would rather have someone else verify for me. I did treat it as if dangerous because I really didn’t want to take a chance if I didn’t and something happened.

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