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

By: EarthKind

The spiders you find in your home are considered the first line of defense when it comes to pest control. Most house spiders are carnivores and enjoy eating a variety of household insects like flies, cockroaches, earwigs, mosquitoes, fleas, moths, and ants. The type of diet they have depends a lot on the species as well. So think twice before immediately aiming to kill an unwanted spider because in some cases, they can be beneficial.

We often fear these pests in our home because we don’t want to get bitten, but thankfully, a spider’s diet doesn’t include humans. They also don’t bite as often as you may think. You might even be surprised to find out you’ve been contributing to their natural ecosystem, allowing them to thrive in your home without even knowing it. If your home contains any of their favorite foods, can you blame them for coming in?

Still, most would agree that your home is not a place where you want them to reside. Understanding their dietary habits and eliminating the kind of food that attracts them, is the best way to ensure your home stays spider free.

Common Species

Where spiders live.

Before we talk about what they eat, we should talk about the types of spiders you’re most likely to encounter in your home. Common house spiders include Yellow Sac, Black House Spider, Brown House, Domestic, Hobo, Common Cellar Spider, Common House Spider, Black Widow, Brown Recluse, and Wolf Spider.

Most of the ones you come across are harmless and generally prefer to avoid human interaction and live their life alone. If you do encounter a dangerous type, knowing how to react and when to seek medical attention can help you prevent or avoid serious harm or injury.

What Do Common House Spiders Eat

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

The spiders that you’re most likely to encounter around your home are the ones that eat the insects that you don’t want to find around your house. They help with pest control by bringing balance to the ecosystem of your home 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 them helping us to get rid of bugs?

The cobwebs you find around your house are the main way spiders catch their meals. They spin webs to trap flying insects, creepy crawlers, and whatever else they can catch. Not all species trap their food this way, but many of the types you’ll find around your home use this method. Other species rely on hunting type methods.

House Spiders want to live indoors and remain undisturbed where they can easily find insects (food) and water. They’re a particular species of spiders that have evolved to spend their entire lives living indoors. Therefore, by sealing entry points in windows or doorways and staying on top of your spring cleaning by reducing clutter buildup around your home, you’ll reduce the number of insects that enter your home and limit a spider’s food source.


How Often Do They Eat

Spiders don’t need to eat often and can survive weeks without food. However, if insects are available, they will eat frequently. They can eat up to 4 times per day. Although they get the moisture they need from their food, they do also need water. And if they go without eating for a while, the water becomes more necessary. Spiders also tend to hang out near water sources because that attracts their prey.

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

How to Prevent Them

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

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. Shop EarthKind botanical repellents and deterrents online or find them at a store near you.

  1. Rita Stadler

    Hi there,

    That’s a tricky situation to diagnose in any circumstance! You may want to check with your primary care provider to get a better understanding of possible causes. You could also inquire with a local pest control professional or county extension office since they are most familiar with the current conditions in your area. There’s definitely no harm in keeping a few pouches of Stay Away Spiders nearby for added peace of mind.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Bree

    Hello, what a wonderful article. I love Earth and want to help where I can, but all insects scare the bejeebus out of me! How can I keep spiders alive, but out of sight? What about their webs? Is it ok to keep clearing them away, or am I supposed to leave them?

    Thank you, I wish I I had a sweet question like the other responders, but I want to do my part and help out the spiders from now on!

    Background: We moved into a mid-century home a year ago from a condo with very few bugs. So this is all very new to me, I must say I haven’t been kind to the centipedes or spiders until now 🙁

    1. Rita Stadler

      Hi Bree,

      Your question is very sweet all the same! Using a repellent like Stay Away Spiders will keep these critters out of sight without harming them. They don’t like the high-pitched vibration of a vacuum, so you can use a vacuum hose to get rid of spider webs. You may want to try this DIY home remedy: use a spray made of half a cup of water, half a cup of vinegar, two tablespoons of liquid dish soap, and twenty drops of thyme oil. The scented mixture prevents them from attaching their silk to sprayed surfaces.

      Let us know if you have any more questions, and thank you for reading!

  • Maaike van de Pijpekamp

    What a lovely site! Thanks for sharing so much information. I have a small garden-like spider who lives indoors. We are now in mid winter and a few weeks ago I started feeding him Buffalo worms which, after spinnthe first one round about 20 times, he took to killing and eating in no time. After about 4 or 5 of these worms over the course of about 2 weeks he stopped spinning a web so I stopped feeding him. He seems to be getting thinner. I’m worried he is undernourished and maybe thirsty. Suggestions?

    1. Rita Stadler

      Hi there,
      What a lovely thing to do; I really appreciate hearing stories about such kindness to spiders! I wouldn’t worry too much about the spider, they are highly skilled at meeting their own needs and don’t rely on people to give them food or water so long as they are free to move about on their own. All you need to do is sit back and appreciate your eight-legged friend 🙂
      Have a great day!

  • Ann Dukus

    A few years ago, a spider took up residence in the side mirror outside my car window. It proceeded to spin quite an elaborate web that did not hinder my usage of the mirror while driving. Neat! It lived in the space behind the mirror . One day while driving it climbed out of his safe haven and was blowing in the wind on its web. OMG I thought its web would break and it would be killed. When it was safe, I pulled over to save it, but it scurried back behind the mirror. Ok, I caught my breath and started back on my way. When I did, though, it climbed back out onto its web flapping in the wind. I pulled over again and the same thing happened. This little devil was a thrill seeker! It lived in there for months doing the same thing over and over, then one day we had torrential downpours and I never saw it again. My only hope was that it sensed the upcoming storm and took off for a safer place. I miss my little buddy!

    1. Rita Stadler

      Hi Ann,
      What a lovely story, thank you for sharing!

  • Charles

    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

    1. Rita Stadler

      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!

  • Kemikmorrison

    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

    1. Rita Stadler

      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!

  • John

    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.

    1. Rita Stadler

      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!

  • chris

    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.

    1. Rita Stadler

      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!

  • Patty Liming

    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!

    1. Rita Stadler

      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!

  • Fiona

    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

    1. Rita Stadler

      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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