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How to Distinguish Between 6 Common California Spiders

A tarantula
When you come across a spider in your home, what is your natural reaction? Most people run, scream, or at least jerk their hand away - and for good reason. Many spiders are dangerous to humans. However, not every spider is dangerous, and it's a good idea to know a bit about the most common types of spiders so you can tell the difference between those that will and will not harm you.

Six primary types of spiders are commonly seen in California homes, and thankfully, distinguishing between them is not too difficult.

1. Yellow Sac Spiders

Yellow sac spiders are pale yellow in color with some dark brown coloring at the tips of their legs. Both males and females are about 1/4 inch long. Yellow sac spiders are most active at night, and they commonly enter homes in search of warmth during the fall.

Yellow sac spiders are a mild threat to humans. They bite regularly, and while their bites are not as serious as those of a black widow, they do cause skin death and swelling. 

2. Cross Orb Weavers

Cross orb weavers are medium-sized, brown spiders with white, cross-shaped markings on their backs. Their bodies are round, and they have eight thick legs that are the same brown color as their bodies. Most are between 1/4 and 3/4 inches long. Cross orb weavers create large webs and are often seen in stairways.  

Cross orb weavers are not terribly aggressive, but they can bite when threatened. In most people, the bites cause pain, swelling, and redness, but some people experience more serious symptoms like nausea and headaches. 

3. American House Spiders

American house spiders are between 1/8 and 5/16 inch long and dirty white to yellow-brown in color. They prefer dark, damp environments, so they are commonly seen in attics and crawlspaces. They create big, sticky cobwebs to trap insects that they consume.

American house spiders aren't a serious threat to humans. They do bite occasionally, but their bite is no worse than a bee sting and usually even milder.

4. Daddy Long Legs

Daddy long legs have small bodies and eight very long, slender legs. They are not technically spiders, although they are arachnids. Indoors, you may find daddy long legs around sinks and in garages since they require a lot of moisture to thrive. 

While finding daddy long legs in your home may be annoying, these pests do not and cannot bite humans. Their mouthparts are simply too small to do so. They do, however, eat other pests like aphids, so seeing the occasional daddy long legs in your yard is not a bad thing.

5. Tarantulas

Big, hairy, and black - with thick, hairy legs - tarantulas are quite easy to distinguish from other spiders. They can grow up to four inches long, although most are smaller. 

Movies have portrayed tarantulas as being incredibly and dangerous, but they're not as much of a threat as you may assume. They're very docile spiders and won't bite unless threatened. Most people experience pain similar to a bee sting when bitten by a tarantula, but you should seek medical care for the bite just in case you happen to be allergic to the spider's venom.

6. Black Widows

Black in color with a characteristic red, hourglass-shaped marking on their midsection, black widow spiders are the most threatening spider on this list. Indoors, they are most often seen in cluttered areas, such as basements and garages. They hang upside down from their webs.

Black widow bites cause serious symptoms including nausea, fever, high blood pressure, and profuse sweating. If you are bitten, seek emergency attention immediately.

The next time you see a spider in your home, step back and assess the situation. The occasional American house spider or daddy long legs is nothing to get too worried about, but on the other hand, you don't want black widows and tarantulas sneaking around in your home. Call Bob's Community Pest Control if you need help getting rid of these or any other spiders.