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What do Spiders Eat – The Diet of a Common House Spider

Would you ever set the table for a spider? Of course not! But you might be surprised to find out you’ve been inviting spiders inside your home without even knowing it. If your home contains any of a spider’s favorite foods, can you blame them for coming in?

You may think, “I don’t care what spiders like, I don’t like them, and I never want to see one!” Knowing what a spider likes will give you a leg up when it comes to keeping them away. Find out what kind of food attracts spiders, so you can make sure your home stays spider free.

Common House Spider Diet

Before we talk about what spiders eat, we should talk about the types of spiders you’re most likely to encounter in your home. Common house spiders include:

  • Yellow Sac SpiderWhere spiders live.
  • Black House Spider
  • Brown House Spider
  • Domestic House Spider
  • Hobo Spider
  • Common Cellar Sider
  • Common House Spider
  • Black Widow Spider
  • Brown Recluse Spider
  • Wolf Spider

Most of the spiders you come across are harmless. Spiders generally prefer to lead solitary lives, avoiding human interaction. If you do encounter a dangerous spider, knowing how to react and when to seek medical attention can help you prevent or avoid serious harm or injury.

What spiders eat

Almost every spider is a predator. Most spider food is made up of insects, but there are some larger exotic spiders which can eat small animals such as lizards, frogs, rodents or birds.

Common house spiders – the ones you’re most likely to encounter – eat insects that you don’t want to find around your house. Spiders are the original pest control pros, and they’re doing you a favor by catching flies, mosquitoes, moths and other insects in their webs. Collectively, spiders eat hundreds of millions of tons of insects each year. Can you imagine what the world would be like without spiders helping us to get rid of bugs?


Spider eating habits

Spiders don’t need to eat often, and can survive weeks without food. However, if food (insects) is plentiful, spiders will eat frequently. Spiders get the moisture they need from their food, but they tend to hang out near water sources because that attracts their prey.

You’re probably familiar with spider webs, which spiders use for catching insects to eat. You may be surprised to learn that spiders don’t have teeth though, and they can’t eat the way you or I do.

In addition to their eight legs, spiders have two small appendages near their mouth that are called pedipalps. The pedipalps hold a spider’s prey in place while the spider bites it with its fangs. The fangs inject venom into the insect that liquefy its insides. Then the spider is able to drink its meal like a powerful protein shake. After a spider is done eating, the insect may look normal to you, but all that remains is an empty exoskeleton.

How to get rid of spiders

As you can see, spiders aren’t attracted to the foods we eat. However, our food can attract the insects that spiders eat. The best way to get rid of spiders is to get rid of their food source.

If you still think sharing your home with a spider is not for you, click below to find out how to get rid of spiders. You can use what you have learned here to prevent spiders and other household pests without bringing harmful chemicals into your home. Natural pest control and prevention is safe and effective, plus it’s friendly to people, pets and the planet.

61 responses to “What do Spiders Eat – The Diet of a Common House Spider”

  1. I wish I could feed the spiders that live in the corners of my room, I let them stay and two have built funnel webs in the corner.. I wish I could catch live flies and send them into the webs but I don’t like to mess with natures course.. however a house isn’t nature, it’s built so it’s our fault the spider isn’t eating… I’m going to hunt a wasp down and remove it’s wings then drop it into the funnel web to see what happens.. I remember as a child me and a friend put a maggot into a wall web (funnel) and the spider came out and sucked the insides from the maggot leaving an empty skin sack.. pretty awesome.. now maybe I’ll just leave the wasp and get a maggot..

    Spiders eat maggots… who would’ve known

    • Hi Charles,

      That’s very kind of you to care so much for the spiders who have found their way into your home! Even indoors, nature creates interesting little ecosystems. The spiders are probably doing quite alright controlling the population of small, sneaky bugs you may not notice such as mites and other tiny creatures. If you’re really concerned about them, you could try leaving a window open for a little while on one of the warmer days, or visiting a pet store to see if they sell any small insects used as food for lizards and other pets.

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. I have found two brownspiders in my bathroom, they always seem to hang out there,they have legs about the half size of my finger. Would this be a brown recluse house spider?
    And how long do they live, and do their legs grow back.
    Thanks, kemi

    • Hi Kemi,
      The brown recluse spider is generally pretty small, so I don’t think it’s legs would be half the size of your finger. It is possible for a spiders legs to grow back depending on where the spider is in it’s life cycle. For more accurate identification, contact your local County Extension office or pest control professional – they would be able to tell you what types of spiders are common in your area.
      Thanks for reading!

  3. Ok…stupid question time!
    I’m curious, if I put out a piece of meat, say something like a piece of sausage or ham (cold cut?) something like that, if a house spider is hungry enough, could it eat this? The reason I ask is because a yellow sac spider was lurking around my office for a couple of days. I typically let them roam freely if they are so inclined as I see them as pest control. One was on my computer monitor all day crawling around…then stopped on the side and just seemed to “sleep”. I didn’t think anything of it. I went home and upon my return the next day, I noticed that the spider had dropped off of my computer monitor and just lay dead on my desk. I couldn’t help but wonder if I could have offered a piece of luncheon meat thinking it might be like carrion…that the spider could liquefy and eat…assuming of course that the spider died of starvation. It is winter and not much around in terms of insects.

    • Hi John,

      There’s no such thing as a stupid question, and it’s admirable that you’re so concerned with a spider’s well-being! As far as I know, spiders would be unlikely to feed on lunch meat, or any other human food for that matter — their small mouthparts aren’t designed for the tearing and chewing required with the kind of food you describe. If you do give it a try the next time you see a spider, please let us know the results!

      Thanks for reading!

  4. what can you feed a spider it is in my house. I live in northern Ontario obviously it is Winter outside so i can’t put him out. I don’t have any insects as they are all dead because of the cold.
    do they eat anything else? It is a small spider.

    • Hi Chris,

      It is so kind that you are happy to share your home with a spider and are looking out for it! I wouldn’t worry about feeding the spider, they are very resourceful and will find what they need. Although you believe all insects to be dead due to the cold weather, there may be some tiny things that have escaped your notice, but will satisfy your house spider. Sometimes the best way to work in harmony with nature is to let it do it’s own thing.

      Thanks for reading!

  5. I totally love this site! I began keeping a spider on the outside of our window actually he built his own web and all of coarse LOL he’s a house spider with the stinger on the rear he’s about the size of a quarter and hides within the brick and I always worried about feeding how long they can go without food and water so it was nice to get the information that I needed from you all!! He’s out right now sitting out in the cold trying to find something to eat I guess unless you know different? Which makes me think he’s hungry he’s not even on his way but he’s on a wall by his web if you have any information and give me I would love to have it thanks very much my email is thanks so much!

    • Hi Patty,
      Thank you for the kind words, I’m so glad our site has been helpful for you! Spiders are very resourceful and don’t need to eat that often, so don’t worry if your friendly spider is just hanging around.
      Thanks for reading!

  6. Hello Rita. I woke up one morning a few years ago to find four little puncture wounds on my stomache. They were like two little holes and two little holes about an inch and a half apart. They felt a bit like a wasp sting. I squeezed them after a few days and some brown and yellow liquid came out. A few weeks later I noticed they were like blood blisters so I squeezed the liquid out again. It took a good few months to heal but left a few faint purple marks. I didn’t see a spider so don’t know if it was the culprit. Do you know if a spider would bite you inside your bed. I live in the uk so not common for poisonous spiders

    • Hi Fiona,
      Spiders usually only bite as self-defense if they are threatened. If a spider was hiding in your bed, and you were to roll over and possibly squish the spider, it may bite as a last resort if it isn’t able to run away. It’s always a good practice to pull back the blankets and take a quick look at the sheets before turning in for the night. I’m glad to hear that you’re okay now!
      Thanks for reading!

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