Steatoda nobilis – Noble False Widow

Known in the United Kingdom as the Noble False Widow, Steatoda Nobilis is a species of spider in the genus Steatoda. Historically, this spider is native to Spain’s Canary Islands and is thought to have spread to Europe and the British Isles via banana shipments. It gets its name from a passing resemblance to the black widow spider, which can deliver a much more venomous bite.

For over a century, these species of spider have been established in the United Kingdom and have become one of UK’s most commonly seen spiders. Since the 1980’s, it has been expanding its range to other parts of the world including the United States, Chile, Colombia, and others. In the United States, they have established populations on the West Coast, especially California.

Quick Overview: Steatoda nobilis – Noble False Widow
Medically significant: No
Body size: Female : 0.5 inches (1.5 cm) Male: 0.45 inches (1.2 cm)
Main colors: black and brown with cream-colored markings
Range: Throughout the United Kingdom/ Europe (Introduced to California)
Web: cobweb, tangled web

Steatoda Nobilis Description

Steatoda nobilis has a brown or black bulbous abdomen with cream-colored markings that resemble a skull shape.

The legs of the males are reddish-orange and long, compared to their thin and oblong bodies.

A male Steatoda nobilis. Source: Wikipedia

Females are usually larger than males and have a more bulbous abdomen. Overall, their body appears shorter and stockier than the males’.

Range ofSteatoda nobilis - Noble False Widow in United States
A female Steatoda nobilis

S. nobilis can be best distinguished from other spiders of the genus Steatoda by their cream-colored or white markings on the abdomen that appear like a skull or like a cathedral. They usually have a white or cream-colored line from the end of the marking down the abdomen towards the head. However, all of these marks can be variable, faded, or missing completely, especially in adult females.

Size

Female noble false widows reach an average body size of 0.4-0.5 inches (9.5 to 14 mm), while the smaller male reach a maximum of 0.45 inches (7 to 11 mm).

Web

Noble false widows build a tangled cobweb with sticky strands to catch prey. However, they have a bad vision and depend for the most part on vibrations coming to them through their cobweb to locate the prey that has entered their web.

Steatoda Nobilis Bite

Although False widows have a venomous bite, it is not particularly potent. The only symptoms usually pain at the bite site, which may radiate away from the bite as well as localized swelling. The symptoms of a bite usually last between one and twelve hours, and rarely more than twenty-four hours. Often, the symptoms are no more painful than a wasp sting.

Steatoda Nobilis Scientific Classification

Steatoda Nobilis- Noble False Widow
A male Steatoda Nobilis with swollen pedipalps. Source: Wikipedia
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Infraorder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Theridiidae
  • Genus: Steatoda
  • Species: Steatoda nobilis

Distribution of the Steatoda Nobilis spider in the USA

The species, which is thought to have originated in the Canary Islands and Madeira, is well established in Western Europe and large parts of the Mediterranean area and has recently spread into California and South America.

In California, it is especially abundant in the Los Angeles area and in Orange County.

Steatoda nobilis – Noble False Widow

40 thoughts on “Steatoda nobilis – Noble False Widow

    1. Hello Brent, thanks for uploading this interesting find! This is a noble false widow, Steatoda nobilis. It was originally native to the Canary Islands and Madeira but has been introduced to California via the UK, where the spider has established large populations. The spider is a close relative of the black widow but it is not considered medically significant (however, it can deliver a painful bite). You can find some more pictures and information here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/697702

    1. Hello T B, thanks for getting in touch! This is a noble false widow, Steatoda nobilis. It has been introduced to California from England. It’s a close relative to the black widow spider but not considered medically significant.

  1. Found this spider by my outdoor storage bin handle. Not sure what species but was wondering if dangerous since I have kids.

    Location: Hercules, California Bay Area

    1. Hello Peter, thanks for getting in touch! This is a noble false widow, Steatoda nobilis. It has been introduced to California from England and its populations have increased a lot over the last years. It’s not a medically significant spider.

  2. Belmont CA
    May be a false widow? It is about the size of a quarter (including legs).
    Please help ID.
    Thanks,
    Seth

    1. Hello Seth, thanks for getting in touch! Yes, this is a false widow, more specifically a noble false widow (Steatoda nobilis). They have been introduced to California from the UK and have become more and more common in the Western US.

  3. This spider was not a type ive seen before near my house. usually i see lots of common spiders including black widows & brown widows (usually closer to the ground. In darker areas under patio furniture or under plywood that is on the ground). i also see orb spiders and jumping spiders garden spiders etc. but these were more similar to widow type spider but different habitat possibly the picture is the back side of a spider and i am pointing the camera straight up while i stand on a patio chair. He is 10 feet above the ground .Resting on his webs about 1 inch from the underside surface of my awning The thead of the tangled web was tough and became more dense as it got closer to the gap between the awning and awning frame rail where he hides there is another spider same or similar species five feet away but the makings on the back of abdomen are different, and the thorax is different slightly also? But both The spiders have orange then yellow then redish orange legs and a both similar size. the front two legs were longer then the spider and the back to were about equal in length to their body.

    In the picture i noticed its thorax is shiny jet black like a carpenter ant and the abdomen is grayish tan with a dark gray-black silhouette and two rows of spots totalling 6 spots running parallel to each other front to back evenly spaced and all within the silouette and look like false eye spots,

    Im interested in knowing the common name for spider and any other info.

  4. I need help identifying this spider I just found in my backyard in Northern California, the Bay Area/Silicon Valley. It is brown in color, translucent when the sun hits it, and on the abdomen/thorax area(not sure of proper name) it has a light cream colored or white design that I think looks like a skull. There was a smaller spider that looked more grey in color located below it (about 2” below). I have attached pictures of both spiders. They have made their home in the “track” of my giant umbrella.

  5. Hi there – found a spider inside my southern California house (Los Angeles). My painter couldn’t identify it and advised I figure out if it was poisonous because then I’ll have to fumigate my house.
    It was about an inch long with longer legs than the body. Legs were pretty skinny.

    Thanks for any help!
    Abbey

  6. This spider has taken up residence in my bathroom for past few weeks, I suspect it is a steatoda nobilis – is that correct?

  7. Found this beautiful thing while painting outside. Shiny and iridescent looks like a polished gem with almost three dimensional designs on it.

  8. I tried to identify using your site and Google, but no spider seemed to have this coloring. Quite small in size. With legs outstretched it could easily fit on a nickel.

  9. Found outside on our window about 20 ft off the ground. Seems to make a lot of webs. About 3/4 of an inch. San Luis Obispo California

  10. I live in Long beach,California and I’ve never seen this species of a spider it’s approximately the size of a quarter no eggs are around it but it does seem to come out when I’m in its prese

  11. Hello – Is this a noble false widow? Just moved to Sunnyvale CA and have seen a bunch of these around my house and yard

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