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Spider Species in the UK

The vast majority of Spiders found in the UK are harmless and not considered to be pests.

Spiders have a very important role to play in our ecosystem, they will help to rid your home and garden of unwanted flying pests.  If you spot one inside your home, you should carefully trap it using a glass and piece card and move it outside.

There are thousands of varieties of spiders around the world, but here in the UK there are approximately 650 species. Yet there are just a handful of these that you might encounter in your home, garage or garden. Find useful facts below about the habits and lifecycles of some spider species.

False Widow Spiders


False Widow spiders will only bite when feeling threatened in defence, however bites are fairly rare.

The false widow spider is nocturnal, rarely venturing out during the day, prefering to be hidden away in cracks close to its web.  Generally they are solitary, preferring a dry warm environment where they will not be disturbed.

False Widow Spider


  • Brown bulbous abdomen with pale markings – females grow to 15mm.
  • They grow to about the size of a 50p coin
  • 7-15mm in length with a leg span of about 35mm
  • The body is quite bulbous, and has a smattering of cream on top
  • The cream smattering can sometimes resemble a skull, but this can vary
  • Leg and body colour is a browny-orange
Life cycle and habits of the False Widow Spider

Life Cycle

  • False widows are synanthropic species
  • Females can live a few years and survive long periods without water
  • Males only live for a few months usually from summer to autumn 
  • Females lay their eggs in spherical sacs. Hatching in 2-4 months the numbers depend on the amound of food sources


  • Hangs upside down from ‘tangle webs’ in dark corners.
  • Closely resembles the black widow spider.
  • The web is typically a random scaffolding of threads.
  • Natural habitats include low vegetation and undisturbed areas.
  • In urban environments they occur in unused sheds, outbuildings and indoors.
  • Bites are fairly rare and only occur when the spider is feeling threatened, they localised short term pain and swelling.

Difference between a false widow and a black widow spider

The false widow has some similarities to its more famous cousin, the black widow spider, but is clearly identifiable as it has cream markings on its abdomen (rather than red), and its legs and body are a browny-orange colour (rather than black). 

Wolf Spiders

(Trochose ruricola)

Wolf spiders hunt at night but spend the day hidden amongst moss and decaying matter.


• Adult female: 8 mm; male - 6 mm. They are generally brown to grey in colour.

Life cycle and habits of the Wolf Spider

Life Cycle

  • Wolf spider mothers carry their egg sacs around with them attached to spinnerets under the abdomen.
  • When the young spiderlings hatch, they climb onto their mother's back where they live for the first few weeks of life.


  • They live in a shallow burrow, with an open and unadorned entrance.


(Phalangium opilio)

Harvestman can usually be found in fields and forests.

harvestman spider


  • Adult – 3.5–9mm body. The upper body surface has light grey/brown pattern, the lower surface is typically cream.
Life cycle and habits of the Harvestman Spider

Life Cycle

  • The females lay eggs in moist soil.
  • The eggs survive through winter and hatch in the spring.
  • Only one batch of eggs is laid each year.


  • They climb tree trunks or look for food on the ground.
  • They feed on many soft bodied arthropods, including aphids, caterpillars, beetle larvae, and small slugs.

Giant House Spiders

(Tegenaria gigantea)

Giant House spiders can be found in the autumn months dashing across the floor of your home or business, usually in search of a mate.


  • Adult – body length excluding legs for females varies from 11 – 18mm & for males from 10 - 14mm. Mainly brown coloured body with conspicuously hairy legs, palps and abdomen.
Life cycle and habits of the Giant House Spider

Life Cycle

  • The female produces white, silk-covered egg sacs about the size of a little finger nail.
  • The male will mate several times with the female before dying.
  • Large house spiders take about two years to reach maturity.


  • Found inside dwellings such as garages, garden sheds and houses.
  • Outside they also frequent rabbit burrows, rock crevices and holes in trees.
  • They produce large, flat sheet webs, with a tubular retreat in one corner.

Cellar Spiders


The cellar spider is sometimes known as the daddy longlegs spider. It gets its name due to primarily being found on the ceilings of rooms or cellars

Pholcidae sp.


  • Adults 2.5cm, four long pairs of legs and two body parts.
  • Very long, thin legs.
  • Will rapidly shake its body on the web when disturbed.
Life cycle and habits of the Cellar Spider


  • Diet primarily consists of insects.
  • Breed at any time of the year – not affected by seasons.
  • They catch and eat other insects.

European Garden Spiders

(Araneus diadematus)

Garden spiders are found across the UK and Europe. The distinctive white marking on the abdomen have led to the nickname 'cross spider'.


  • Adult – body length excluding legs for females varies from 6 -20 mm & for males from 5 - 13 mm. Colouring can range from light yellow through to very dark grey. All have mottled white markings across the abdomen resembling a cross.
Life cycle and habits of the European Garden Spider

Life Cycle

  • The females hang head down, in centre of web waiting for disturbance signal from prey.
  • Prey is quickly bitten, then wrapped in silk before being stored for later.
  • Occasionally females will eat males directly after mating.


  • Found on webs stretched between shrubs, across paths and door frames.
  • Seen usually between June and November or until killed off by frost.
  • They spin silk and weave webs at night ready for the following day.

Zebra Jumping Spiders

(Salticus scenicus)

Aptly named for their black and white marking Zebra spiders are widespread across Britain and Europe.


  • Adult – body length excluding legs for females varies from 5 – 9 mm & for males from 5 - 6 mm. Black and white body hair forms the distinctive stripes.
  • They have amazing vision, with eight eyes - the two forward facing eyes being the largest.
Life cycle and habits of the Zebra Jumping Spider

Life Cycle

  • It uses its eight eyes to locate food and its agile jumping ability to quickly pounce and capture prey
  • The males carry out a courtship dance which involves waving front legs.
  • Females will guard egg sacs and young until the spiderlings have had a second moult.


  • They can be found indoors on window sills or in corners behind curtains
  • Outside they also can be found on walls, plants and fences on sunny days.
  • They do not produce webs, as they stalk prey instead.