Lace weaver spider | Biting spiders

Lace weaver spider - Amaurobius-similis
Lace weaver spider

There are two species of lace weaver or lace webbed spiders; Amaurobius similis and Amaurobius fenestralis. Whilst the two are very similar we are mainly concerned with A. similis as these tend to be larger and more commonly occur indoors. Lace webbed spiders are very common and widespread throughout the UK, although less so in the far north.

Generally a little smaller than the false widow (Steatoda nobilis) with a body size of up to 12mm the lace weaver spider is often mistaken for the false widow. This is probably due to its roughly similar proportions including a fairly large abdomen in the female. The legs and carapace are also dark brown and glossy, as in most of the false widow spiders (not so reddish though). However, the legs of the lace web are a little shorter and thicker whilst the velvety abdomen is more elongated and not so round as in the false widows. The pattern on the upperside of the abdomen is also not as visible as in S. nobilis and is characterised by three V-shaped markings.

The lace webbed spiders are funnel webs; this does not mean they are associated with the infamous Australian funnel web spiders. It just means they make webs with a flat web with a velcro-like texture which leads into a silken funnel in a crevice. Here the spider waits until an unfortunate invertebrate happens upon the web, at which point the spider darts out and sinks its fangs into the prey.

There have been a few recorded cases of the lace web spider biting humans. Whilst bites were reported as painful the symptoms were restricted to localised swelling for around 12 hours. No systemic conditions were reported and it appears the bite was relatively painless with the following swelling being quite painful.

Although I will be the first to say nature has its own ways, the lace webbed spider exhibits some quite shocking behaviour. The female spider lays around 40 eggs in a protective silk breeding chamber. The mother remains with the eggs protecting them until they hatch at which point, with the mother’s acquiescence, the spiderlings devour her. A process known as matriphagy.

11 thoughts on “Lace weaver spider | Biting spiders”

  1. Thurs 18th February 2021 – Lincolnshire Wolds
    Have just been bitten by a female Lace webbed spider on my ring finger on my right hand. Two bite marks, 3 mm apart, are visible on the inside base of my finger the initial bite was painful and the slight swelling generated is still painful after half an hour. The spider somehow got into my rubber glove – and lived to be studied and eventually let free.

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  2. Found a lace web spider in the corner of my bathroom window….it had spun a long web & was hiding in a crevice in the corner of the window pain. Very distinctive markings.

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  3. Just been bitten on the index finger whilst sleeping. Captured the spider under a glass and spent ages trying to identify it and am now pretty sure it’s a lace weaver. Bite was a sharp sting as if I’d cut myself.. Washed the site with soap and water and now just waiting to see what happens in the next 48h..

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  4. Just been bitten by one…fell down my shirt and bite me at the bottom of ribs as I was scratchin around! And yes, swelling is quite painful, and have a slight numbing at the top of one of my arms. It’s been about 30mins. Unfortunately, my scratching around meant it didn’t live to feed itself to its offspring.

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  5. I live near a nuclear waste dump, and I’ve been fighting a 5ft tall one for a few days. I managed to construct a barricade from my girlfriend’s hundreds and hundreds of dresses and I’ve crafted a home-made spear from a hockey stick and a particularly sharp left over piece of pizza. I will be engaging the beast now, wish me luck!

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  6. Laceweb spider got into my t shirt whilst I was sweeping outside. Has bitten me repeatedly on the inside of my upper arm (took off my a shirt as felt like something scratching) and there it was, I might have screamed a little bit….
    Taken an antihistamine and cleaned the area with antiseptic and then put hydrocortisone cream. Still hurting like a bad nettle rash. Am in Sussex.

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  7. I have been bitten by one of these I think, 2 bites in lower abdomen on front and left side of torso. The bite was 8 days ago. The bites themselves were not painful and it happened in my sleep and it did not wake me up. I found the bites a few days later after investigating what was causing minor pain around the left side of my body, like aching muscles and touching the skin feels similar to minor sunburn. This pain has lasted for 8 days although it is definitely subsiding now. The swelling around the bite marks is still there. The article says 12 hours.

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  8. my daughter found one in our kitchen and told me to get it. it tracked me around the kitchen. if I went left so did she, and then back right. freaked me out so much I couldn’t capture then release. She had to die.

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  9. I just rescued on and gave it water on a sponge to revive the make from the cold was crawling on my skin for warmth and the water under my nail then stop pinched my skin dug the fangs in harder and injected a bit of venom no joke like what the hell. No provoking that spiders an ass wish I filmed it to prove it too

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  10. I was bit by one of these in bed last night, sharp pinch twice on my shoulder. Top of my shoulders, collar bone and up my neck was painful swollen and had muscle cramp . Still stinging the following day but have iodine on it as well as previously putting on antiseptic cream and taking antihistamines . Never want to be bitten by one again it was awful! I’m terrified of spiders anyway so safe to say the little devil no longer walks. They are very distinctive with their yellow markings!

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