Spiders, Pacific Northwest
The woodlouse hunter is another spider that hunts its prey. It is found in the US, from New England to Georgia, and westerly, in California. They also inhabit areas of the Pacific Northwest, including all of Vancouver Island. Its habitats also include regions in England, northern Europe, and Australia. The woodlouse hunter spider preys on woodlouse bugs, hence its common name.
The female can reach lengths up to 15 mm, and males, up 10 mm in size. The upper body & legs are reddish-orange, and the abdomen is off-white. Their chelicerae (mouthparts) are large, thick & slanted far forward, they have very large fangs, and their 6 eyes are arranged in an oval shape.
The woodlouse hunter will overwinter in its adult form. Mating usually occurs in April, with the eggs being deposited shortly thereafter. These eggs (up to 70 at a time!) are suspended by silken strands in the female’s silk-lined nest. The spiderlings remain with their mother for a time, before heading out on their own.
This spider is nocturnal, hiding by day under wood piles, logs, or other debris, and coming out at night to hunt. Its preferred prey is the woodlouse, which is also known as sow bugs. The spider uses its enlarged jaws & long fangs to pierce the bug’s tough outer shell or will turn it over & pierce its soft underbelly.
The woodlouse hunter is native to western Europe but has been introduced throughout much of the globe. Here in North America, it is common in urban areas, but can also be found in both forest and field. The bite of these spiders can cause an intense itching at the wound site, that can last a few days.