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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.

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

  1. Hi! Can anyone help? I accidentally burned a spider with steam from the iron (I think it’s a jumping spider but can’t be sure) he’s still alive (almost 12 hours later) but not moving much, is there anything I can offer to perk him up a bit, perhaps some sugar water? Thanks in advance

  2. I love Spiders, I’m always saving them from the shower, my boyfriend is always calling me to get them, there is a big black house Spider in between my window and screen in my bed room unfortunately I scared it and it went in it’s corn it’s been there ever since, I think lol.

    • Hi Karen,

      That is so kind of you to save spiders! Think of how many unpleasant bugs those spiders have caught and saved you from.

      Thanks for reading!

    • I accidentally burned a spider this morning with my steam iron, I have put him in the drip tray under my aloe Vera plant. He’s not moving much, but still alive, is there anything I can give him to try and perk him up, some sugar water perhaps?

      • Hi there!

        That is so kind of you to have such concern for our little eight-legged friends! Unfortunately, caring for spiders isn’t our specialty. Perhaps a pet store or local entomologist may have more advice, but I think you’ve done a fine thing already.

        Thanks for reading!

  3. How long can little spiders live for?? I just captured a tiny fella yesterday because he looks super cool with a multi colored belly (red/green… etc). I was having a terrible time focusing it on my iPhone 6S Plus. Then I borrowed my cousins’ iPhone X and it still doesn’t work. Needed a manual zoom function as the auto focus wasn’t able to do it. After spending like 10 minutes I gave up and took him home with me intending to release him after capture but now I might just keep him. 🙂 He is super cute. I’ll post on my IG soon @theghettoracer

    • Hi Frank,

      Great pics on your IG! Most spiders live between a few months up to about 2 years. There is quite a bit of variance though depending on the species and habitat. A pet spider may live longer because it will be safe from predators. We’ll keep an eye on your IG for updates 🙂

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Where’s the pic.? I wanted too check him out. I apologize because I don’t pull up too many apps fear of hackers via e~mails & they’re out there. My spider is just black & small, his name “SPEYE”. I fed him a mosquito but I don’t have things crawling around that I can see. I vacuum daily & wash floors. My daughter calls me a clean freak but I’ve seen cleaner. I’m trying to round up something opening my slider but it’s cool out. I kill only mosquitos or ticks. I rescue ants, 1 was drowning in ad street bowl & it jumped on my thumb. I let him go where i picked him up. I’ll find something.

  4. I found a tiny spider in my office who has spun a web under the arm of one the chairs. It is winter here and I wonder if I re-hydrated a mealworm (I have a package for the winter bird-feeding time) and cut it in a tiny portion, whether the spider could eat or not? I think I will also put her/him? in a large glass container with twigs, leaves, etc. as she may not be able to do well with clients in and out around that chair.

    • Hi there!

      How kind of you think of relocating and feeding your eight-legged friend! I’m not sure if a re-hydrated and cut up mealworm would work for the spider, but perhaps there is an office plant where you could relocate the spider? Spiders are very skilled at staying out of the way and finding enough food to eat when left to their own devices.

      Thanks for reading!

  5. Does anyone know what a common house spider eat that is human cooked/baked/grilled (or just made)or can foods. I have one and won’t let it roam around my house because my gf doesn’t want spiders around the house. My common house spider is a male and not even the size of a dime and I can’t find live prey because of winter (well you should know that because the date I posted it) Any ideas.

    • Hi Steven,

      Based on my research, spiders only eat other insects. Larger spiders may eat small animals like lizards, etc… but that doesn’t sound like it would apply to your little house spider. Perhaps a pet store would sell small insects as feed for other pets?

      Thanks for reading!

    • Hi Jiaqi,

      What an interesting idea, we’d love to get an update about your fear of spiders. I hope things improve because they really are neat little creatures! Spider identification can be tricky, especially without more information and pictures. I would suggest checking with a local County Extension office for help identifying a spider in your area.

      Thanks for reading!

    • My girlfriend brought home a tarantula and that got me over my fear pretty quick! I have always loved saving the spiders if I can, I still get skeptical if I see one bigger than a nickel I relocate it to my plants in the garage or outside if it’s warm enough. Making friends with one and being in its company does help one get over the fear of spiders but realize that it’s life span won’t be super long and that you did what you could to provide a safe environment for him / her (they could of been mature already)

  6. Hi Rita,

    I found a source online that says spiders consume 400 to 800 million tons of insects per year. This is quite different than your claim of them eating hundred of billions of tons per year. I just want to know what the right answer is. Thank you.

    • Hi Peter!

      Based on a quick review of current research, 400 to 800 million tons appears to be correct. The post has been updated to reflect this, thanks for paying attention to the details! Either way, spiders sure do eat a lot of annoying (and dangerous) insects!

      Thanks for reading!

  7. Between my window and screen, there is a spider trapped. Been there a long time and I have never seen anything it could eat. Last night the temp was below freezing. Not sure I can remove the screen from outside to release it. What are its chances of living? I’m concerned for it.

    • Hi CB,
      It really depends on the species of the spider as house spiders are usually not the same species as the spiders you see outdoors. Indoor spiders, for example, can go long periods without food or water. They are adapted to living in conditions found in the home, like irregular food and water supply. In fact, depending on the species, some spiders can live anywhere from 4-8 weeks to several months without food or water. And as far as temperature, since spiders are cold-blooded, they are not attracted to warmth, nor do they get uncomfortable in the cold—they just become less active, and eventually dormant. In fact, most spiders can endure temperatures as low as -5° C or lower. Spiders are more resilient than many of us realize!
      Thanks for sharing!

  8. we have a little spider in the corner of our kitchen who waits patiently in her web in the corner by the sink. Her name is Rose. I have thrown a few critters ( sowbugs , ants ) her way , but then I am consumed with guilt. How long can she go without eating ?? I am feeling as though I had better go and bag something for her again . ( I feel a Roald Dahl story coming on here ) Any advice ??

    • Hello Patricia,

      How kind of you to feed your little friend! I’m sure Rose appreciates your gifts, but don’t feel bad if you can’t provide regular meals. Spiders, especially those that tend to live indoors—can go long periods without food or water. They are adept at living in conditions found in the home, like irregular food and water supply. In fact, depending on the species, some spiders can live anywhere from 4-8 weeks to several months without food or water.

      I hope this helps!

      Thanks for sharing.

      • I use to like spiders and feed them too, based upon my school teacher instilling a love for them into us as kids from reading Charlotte’s Web, until I got bitten two separate times, by a brown recluse. The second time, it took me TWO years, to heal the bite. Now, I have ZERO tolerance for them!

        • Hi Alice,

          That must have been pretty stressful! We’re glad you’re okay! That’s part of the reason Kari Warberg Block invented Stay Away Spiders; she was also bitten by a venomous spider, but she still didn’t want to kill them — just make sure they Stay Away! Please let us know if you’ve tried the product yet. You can get an introductory offer when you sign up to receive our newsletters.

          Thanks for reading!

    • We have also have a “pet” spider (Webster). We have had him for at least 3 years. He lives near the corner of our kitchen sink. I occasionally feed him ants. Sometimes we have to jar him when work is being done in kitchen.

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