If you live in the UK and find a big spider in your home, you might be seeing one of these scary-looking giant arachnids, known as the giant house spider. It is the larger cousin of the house spider (Tegenaria domestic) and is one of the largest and most common spiders found in the UK, which loves to inhabit homes and buildings, regardless of whether people occupy these buildings or not.

You may want to bring yourself up to scratch with this UK house spider, because you’ll most likely come across one in your home at some point.


A giant house spider is not very difficult to identify, even though there are several very similar species of house spider.

Eratigena atrica are large and brown with dark hairy bodies, with an abdomen up to 1 inch long. They have three rows of dark bands on their body. A pair of long, spiny front legs give them their name. The legs are nearly as long as the body.

Mature males have swollen palps that look like boxing gloves at the end of each leg. Females have a prominent silk-lined egg sac in late summer.

In terms of size, the giant house spider (UK) has been known to display a leg span of up to 120mm wide (which is about the diameter of a Compact Disc!). Female giant house spiders are larger than males, and will also live for several years, usually outliving males.

Domestic house spider hanging on the wall paper

Where do giant house spiders hide?

The giant house spider is commonly found living in warmer climates where they can (reluctantly) live outside, and prefer to live inside houses and buildings.

Mainly in early autumn, they may be encountered in most buildings where the right conditions exist, such as dark places, walls, window sills, basements, and are frequently found under dustbins and may get into baths. They may get inside lofts if their entry point is something like a wall cavity or underneath garage doors. It is more likely that they will get into warm warehouses but can also survive in domestic houses if enough heat can be retained during colder periods in winter by opening windows.

Eratigena atrica are sometimes found in neglected corners of rooms, on windowsills, and in other enclosed spaces. They build their webs in dark corners of buildings with little interference from other living beings. These sheet-like cobwebs can be so large that they may even connect multiple buildings to each other.

Lastly, you might see them darting around, as they are one of the fastest invertebrates, being able to run as fast as 0.5 metres in less than a second.

What do giant house spiders eat?

The giant house spider feeds primarily on other arthropods, which it hunts at night when they are active. They also tend to feed on flies, moths, and crickets, but some suspect they sometimes eat small birds in the wild too.

The spider will typically wait close to unsuspecting insects and then quickly immobilises its prey by injecting venom through its fangs, before wrapping it in silk to carry back to its secluded lair, where the food will be eaten later.

Female giant house spider (Eratigena duellica) feeding
Female giant house spider (Eratigena duellica) feeding on a large bluebottle blowfly (Calliphora vicina). Delta, British Columbia, Canada

Do giant house spiders bite?

Yes, they do bite people. The venom of the giant house spider is very weak, and they generally only bite when squeezed. Bites from this creature tend to happen at night or early morning as they’re nocturnal creatures.

Are giant house spiders venomous?

Yes, but only to small insects and other spiders. The kind of venom they carry is not dangerous to humans, but it may cause pain and swelling in rare instances.

The spider is normally nocturnal and is very reluctant to bite humans. If you do get bitten by one, stay calm because it can bite quite hard. Wash the area with soap and water, which will help the wound heal quickly and stop infection from setting in. If home remedies don’t work, try going to a doctor.

So, do giant house spider bites hurt? Not really. The bite of a giant house spider is comparable to the sting of a bee, but usually no more painful than that.

This is a male Giant House Spider (Eratigena atrica)

Why do giant house spiders come inside?

These spiders come inside houses and buildings to overwinter and hide from the colder temperatures and the scarcity of food outside.

But, the question is, can giant house spiders survive outside?

Yes, they have been known to survive the harsh weather in the winter. However, many do not live for long outside. They usually try to find holes in walls or cracks in foundations where they can stay safe when the weather gets bad, and will eventually find their way back into another building if they survive for long enough.

How to keep them out for good

If you want to deter spiders, the easiest way is to mix peppermint oil and spray your home with this aroma. Also, place citrus fruits or similar smells in areas where they are frequently seen or known to hide.

Additional Resources

Sources and References

  1. A life story of large house spiders – bbc.co.uk
  2. Spiders in your home – nhm.ac.uk

36 thoughts on “Giant House Spider (Eratigena Atrica)”

  1. This information is really helpful. I just caught one in my bathroom and I know how to release it now!

    Thank you very much!

      1. Rachel Helen Bowskill

        I wouldn’t kill the spider because he also deserves to live. I have one in the house, and he runs away from my ragdoll cat, but then they seem to play with each other. I have called him Fred, and sometimes he sits next to my cat, and then the next night, he comes running out from the wall cavities and chills out in the bathtub. I have actually grown to love Fred. He’s a male being larger, and he knows when I have to get him out of the tub because I get a piece of cardboard and he climbs onto it. I put him down on the floor, and he goes into his nest where the female only leave to eat and they go without water and food for up to 7 months. They are all god’s creatures. Even tho Fred is frightening, he’s quite sweet 😋

          1. Broo there is one underneath my Bed and I rushed downstairs because I’m scared of any spider I see

  2. These may look big and scary spiders but they will only bite as a last resort defense mechanism in the same way as a bee would. Plus it’s an effective house bug exterminator.

    1. Exactly I was brought up to be afraid of spiders but I never kill Any spider I see as they do more good killing those pesky little flies that get everywhere. I now speak to a giant house spider who is living in my garden storage box in the garden I wouldn’t dream of killing her I’ve even named her Deleth and I talk to her I think I am gaining her trust as I will feed her if I can find an insect to do so. She helps us I help her, don’t kill a spider please I was brought up to hate them but like a bee they have their place same as us, a bee landed on me several times today just being a friendly creature spiders know no different don’t kill them yes remove them if you don’t like them but trust me they will do more good by trapping those horrible nats and fruit fly’s especially in the summer months.

  3. My wife found 2 giant spiders in living room while she was sitting on sofa 1 came from the cushions and ran towards her luckily she flicked it away and disappeared somewere in sofa the other was on our floor heading towards her feet! She caught the one running towards her feet with a glass cup it is the size of the whole glass eeeerrrrrr. Yes they say they bite and its like a bee sting? WELL A BEE STING HURTS and i got kids and a new born that i leave on the sofa with cushions round her, sometimes my wife and i are in the kitchen, what happens if the spider comes to my 4 year old or even my new born it will bite my kids!! Personally me i watched arachnophobia when i was a kid and till now im still scared of spiders im a grown man but ill let my wife deal with it…BUT IF THER BITE IS LIKE A BEE STING THAT IS QUITE WORRYING STILL SPEACIALLY IF IM LEAVING MY KIDS IN LIVING ROOM WHILE IM IN KITCHEN …

    1. I understand your concerns but honestly spiders won’t just run up and bite someone, they know we are not food so won’t waste their venom. The reason they appeared to be running towards your wife was purely because they run towards the nearest dark area to hide in. You have to remember these spiders may be big but compared to us, even a baby, they’re tiny. We could kill them with one finger. They’re petrified of this giant creature so they immediately run for any dark place and unfortunately sometimes that means that they look like they’re running towards you.
      Unless they are sat on or crushed they won’t bite, they won’t come near your baby especially if it’s making noises or moving around they’ll most likely freeze or try to hide.

      I cant stress enough how rare it is for these to bite, you’d have to physically press down on them to get them to do that. I know it’s easy to be scared by them but honestly they are no threat, and I’d say it’s less painful than a bee sting as bees have venom that actually affects humans, where as these spiders venom doesn’t do anything to humans

  4. I’ve just been kicked out of my bedroom bc this spider thinks he lives here in my bed. So I’m sat on the couch with my blankets letting the lil dude win

    1. Rachel Helen Bowskill

      I loved your reply, and it made me smile. I have the same problem with Fred who thinks he owns my bathtub. He can run as well, but he likes to play with my pedigree cat, and every night he comes out and just chills next to my cat. Honestly, I can say that they are friends. I have grown to love Fred and he’s a male looking for food for his mate who stays in her spider nest.

      1. Fred is so lucky your cat doesn’t kill him!! I have 6 cats, and they all think spiders are prey. I often find these and other spiders and lots of moths in summer cold out on the floor or in bits ☹️

  5. Just the sheer size of them scares the sh*t outta me. I have 2 cats that are natural hunters and even they won’t mess with these big ass f*ckers. Currently have one in my bathroom and unless it wants to start paying rent, it can bugger off. I don’t want no babies running round my house neither.

  6. Just caught one in my bedroom! I was staying up late and I guess she came out from under my bed to feed. Caught her and moved her to my basement. She was so big I heard her footsteps as she ran across my floor! I guess now I can be sure there are no other bugs under my bed. Thanks for the guide! Now I appreciate these creatures more : )

  7. Just caught one of these crazy little critters in my bedroom! Really cool looking. SO fast too, like this thing can MOVE! It is also very agile, able to make some impressive rapid changes in direction and stance. It did a few little moves that were almost like little jumps, really cool. I like the cute little palp bits lol. It’s fun to see a larger spider so I can more easily examine the body and hairs and pattern. I understand some people would be scared by the size and speed (especially in UK where I don’t see ones this big very often) if they are not used to playing with wildlife lol. But you have to think, realistically, it’s a tiny creature who most likely wants to escape and get away from you as fast as possible. Like any other mammal would probably just eat or something it if they could catch it.
    Also, it did bite me, that’s how I realised it was there, and it really didn’t hurt it’s just annoyingly itchy. Anyone who googled and landed here, you really don’t need to worry. If you look at them closely, they’re quite amazing. It is just scary because it is fast and unpredictable. Just carefully catch it in a glass or something like that. Careful not to hurt the legs though. I kind of want to keep it as a pet lol but I’m gonna go put it somewhere cosy outside. If it finds it’s way back then it can stay over the winter lol.

  8. They can run 0.5m in less than a second.My slipper is landing on them in 100mS. Everyone have to protect their children animal or human you kill for them …

    1. Pathetic that really. Protect your kids from real threats like paedos and murderers trust me a spider is nothing. As a human I’ve been stung by wasps and bitten by ants but never has a spider attacked me and I’ve come across a few species. All I did one day was walk past a bush and hundreds of wasps started chasing me, those things are the worst I was standing in a bus stop once and put my litter in the bin and guess what a wasp flew out and stung me on my neck those are evil insects. Spiders whilst looking bad ass are cool just like a bee bees are awesome too but wasps and ants are horrible horrible insects.

  9. Just come along by one last night at 00.30, and he was right in my chest. I did freeze instantly. Not sure if they are bad for humans or if their bite is fatal. I’m just well afraid of them now. I couldn’t sleep all night just because of it

    1. Definitely not fatal. I have 42 Tarantulas, they are much more venomous than any of our native spiders and not one of them can kill a human. Only a few spiders in the world can kill humans, none of them in the UK. There are over 1000 species of Tarantulas and none have bites fatal to humans. Just let them live and catch any other bugs in your house and be thankful you do not live in Australia!

  10. If you lot are scared of these, go have a look in your brickwork outside your homes, look for the gaps and see if you see any funnel webs. The tube spider is nearly double the size of these, like a small tarantula and they have a nasty bite. Giant house spiders you find will always nearly be males as the females rarely leave their nests and can end up staying in those nests for months at a time, they then move to another place to simply make another nest. Males roam around to mate. These spiders won’t bite you though, anyone that’s been bitten like myself will tell you it’s when asleep. Most spiders will only attack larger animals or “us” when they feel threatened (nope not if you make them jump) when enough pressure is placed on their abdomens. When you sleep, you’ll be surprised how many spiders crawl over you without you even knowing it. Word of advice, if you find lots of false widows, I’d highly suggest leaving them alone as they are none to takedown house spiders so they can act as a safeguard in a way. I’ve got a pet pink toe so she goes around my front room from time to time and I’ve even caught her catching a house spider once, along with my 10 phidippus regius, which are amazing little creatures. Again, spiders will only bite if you apply pressure to their abdomens which tends to happen when you try swiping them off ad a natural reaction whilst sleeping or when you turn over in bed. Try not to kill these creatures, they don’t deserve being smashed into pieces just for going about their daily lives.

  11. I’ve come across three over the last week – one in the bathtub, one on the stairs and one on the sofa. The one on the sofa disappeared behind a cushion and made its escape, but the other two were easy to dispose of – just by coaxing them into a cone of paper and dropping them outside. Once they’re nudged into the cone with another piece of paper, they dart down to the darkest end of the cone and settle there while being escorted to the door.

  12. My wife hates spiders. I spend all year catching them, and pretending to put them outside…. I just put them in another room… I caught a giant tonight it is currently in a box outside (she made sure it was outside) if I put it in our garage will it survive the winter?

  13. Hi, I need advice as I have a 5 legged giant house spider in my bathroom sink overflow hole. She is still fast so I’ve not caught her yet. Last week I got up and found a Web inside the sink with 15 babies there! It made me freak so much that I scooped up 12 before the mum and 3 who jumped on her back got away down the hole again. I deposited the 12 out in my shed so I don’t know if they will survive? But tonight she popped out again made a tiny Web and the 3 babies are still with her. My dilemma is should I try to capture them, put in a terrarium and let them live in captivity? Or will she go away once the babies leave? I’ve called her Incy Wincy and before I’d call her and she would stick a leg up out of the hole, like it was a listening device or a periscope! 😄 Anyway, it seems like a good crowd here who might have some advice to help me get my bathroom sink back again?

  14. I have been ok with all natural creatures, so I didn’t mind the spiders outside. I didn’t want them in the house, until I got to know them, now I have 2 I feed everyday and watching understanding them.

  15. I came across one of these spiders today as I put on some shorts that were on my banister by the stairs. I started to put my shorts on when the next thing I felt was something running up my back. So, I reached around and cupped my hand. As I brought my hand back around, I opened it to my amazement, finding one of these big house spiders. It gave me a bee sting bite. It’s obviously not the worst pain I have felt, but it did leave a little mark on my hand. I was not pleased, especially since I normally just put these creatures back outside when I find them in my house.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top