Spiders – meet your housemates!

These are some of the spiders that share our Melbourne homes and backyards.

Badge Huntsman Spider

The beautifully marked Badge Huntsman is active at night and occasionally comes into houses. Outside, it hunts slaters and other insects on the trunks of trees or in foliage. It hides under bark during the day.

Badge Huntsman Spider, Neosparassus sp.

Badge Huntsman Spider, Neosparassus.sp.
Photographer: Alan Henderson / Source: Museum Victoria

Daddy Long-legs Spider

Daddy Long-legs Spiders are probably the most common spider found indoors. They make their webs behind doors, around furniture, in garages and sheds and in the corners of ceilings. They feed on small insects, silverfish and other spiders.

Daddy Long-legs Spider, Pholcus phalangioides

Daddy Long-legs Spider, Pholcus phalangioides
Photographer: Alan Henderson / Source: Museum Victoria

Social (Flat) Huntsman Spider

This is the largest of the Huntsman spiders and is commonly found under the bark of trees in the company of several other adults and immature spiders. It eats insects and other invertebrates.

Social (flat) Huntsman Spider, Delena cancerides

Social (flat) Huntsman Spider, Delena cancerides
Photographer: Alan Henderson / Source: Museum Victoria

Huntsman Spider

Huntsman Spiders are the large, hairy spiders often found inside homes. Although they are the spiders of nightmares and provoke the loudest screams, Huntsman Spiders are actually timid and relatively harmless. They eat insects and other spiders.

Huntsman Spider, Holconia sp.

Huntsman Spider, Holconia sp.
Photographer: Alan Henderson / Source: Museum Victoria

Brown House Spider

The Brown House Spider has a similar body shape and web to the Red-back Spider, but lacks the Red-back’s distinctive red stripe. It is often found indoors and prefers dark places such as in cupboards or under furniture.

Brown House Spider, Steatoda grossa

Brown House Spider, Steatoda grossa
Photographer: Alan Henderson / Source: Museum Victoria

White-tailed Spider

White-tailed Spiders are frequent visitors to our homes, particularly our bedrooms. They are nocturnal hunters and feed mainly on other spiders, especially Black House Spiders.

White-tailed Spider, Lampona cylindrata

White-tailed Spider, Lampona cylindrata
Photographer: Alan Henderson / Source: Museum Victoria

Black House Spider

Black House Spiders make distinctive lacy webs with several funnel-shaped entrances.  Webs are common in the corners of window frames and on paling fences. These timid spiders appear only when prey is caught in their web.

Black House Spider, Badumna insignis

Black House Spider, Badumna insignis
Photograph: Alan Henderson,  Museum Victoria

Wolf Spider

Wolf Spiders are ground-dwelling hunters. The female carries her egg sac underneath her abdomen until the spiderlings hatch. The spiderlings then ride on their mother’s back for several weeks. This behaviour occurs also in scorpions.

Wolf Spider, Lycosa godeffroyi

Wolf Spider, Lycosa godeffroyi
Photographer: Alan Henderson / Source: Museum Victoria

Further Reading

Walker, K. L., Yen, A. L. & Milledge, G. A. 2003. Spiders and Scorpions commonly found in Victoria. The Royal Society of Victoria.

Comments (163)

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Morgan 20 May, 2009 17:49
I was out looking for social huntsmans today and I found half a dozen of these under the bark of trees. Some of them had young of about 1/3 adult size. A nice-looking species.
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Matt Mahoney 17 October, 2009 14:24
Hi there! I saw a spider outside our house today, and wasn't sure what sort it was. Was hoping you might be able to help me. It was light brown, about the size of a 20c coin. It kept it's back legs together in pairs, making it look a bit like a small stick. It was definitly alive, but when I tried to push it a little, it made no movement. We found it inside an empty flower pot outside. Hope that helps! Thanks very much. Matt Mahoney
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Discovery Centre 9 November, 2009 17:53

Hi Matt,

Apologies for the delay in getting back to you; as you probably know there are many different species of spider and it is hard to identify them from a description alone. If the spider is still there and you can safely do so please feel free to take a photo of the spider and e-mail it to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au and we will try and identify the spider for you.

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malita 21 November, 2009 20:03
my son was bitten on the hand last night so i searched his room and found what i think is a sac spider in the top corner above his bed, where the bite is on his hnd it has become red and pussy looking he tells me its not sore but he is 2 so i can only believe so much, can the bite get worse??
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Discovery Centre 23 November, 2009 10:47

Hi Malita,

Unfortunately we cannot provide medical advice on your son's possible bite as we haven't seen and identified the spider; and people can react in different ways to a spider bite, (if that is what has caused the problem). I recommend that you take your son to a doctor and have them take a look at the injury.

All the best with your son.

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Teresa 1 December, 2009 04:50
Hi. Your Tarantula webcam is awsome! It would be cool if u could put more webcams up!
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Discovery centre 2 December, 2009 10:51

Hi Teresa,

We are glad you like the tarantula webcam, our Live Exhibits Department are in the process of setting up Bower-cam; a webcam in the Forest Gallery which will be focussed on the bower of our male Satin Bowerbird. They are also looking into the possibility of having some other invertebrate cameras operating in the back of house areas.

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Janine 16 January, 2010 00:17
Hi there, we've just found quite a large spider with distinctive black and white striped legs - very zebra-like- in our home in inner city Melbourne. Any ideas as to what it might have been and whether or not it is venemous? It was more a mottled black/ grey but definitely white as well.
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Discovery Centre 18 January, 2010 16:11

Hi Janine, Museum Victoria has a free identification service but in order for the Entomologist to provide an accurate identification, an image or the specimen is required. You can find all of the details for identifications here: http://museumvictoria.com.au/discoverycentre/ask-us-a-question/identifications/identification-guidelines-/

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colin 24 February, 2010 21:23
Hi, was after some advice. I have a spider roughly the size of a normal house huntsman. It has a large white stripe down its body. The stripe is roughly 2mm thick. Just curious as to what kind of spider it is. Great website aswell.
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Ashley 17 March, 2010 14:11
Hi, I have pet huntsman I give it crickets that I find in the area where I found it, but it will only eat about 1 or 2 a month is there something wrong thx
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Discovery Centre 18 March, 2010 10:42

Hi Ashley,

Huntsman spiders will feed on a wide variety of insects including cockroaches, moths and beetles. They will basically feed upon anything they can overpower quickly and easily. If you are going to catch food for it avoid any stinging or biting insects such as wasps and ants.

As for the rate of feeding, most will feed a little more often than once or twice a month, but they can certainly survive on that rate. Young huntsman will usually feed as often as they can.  It’s hard to say why yours would only want to feed that often – there are a couple of possibilities that spring to mind. Adult males typically don’t feed much, and elderly huntsmen begin to lose their appetites as they near the end of their lives.

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Neil 25 March, 2010 22:43
Saw what looked like a black house spider hanging from a down-pipe on its thread tonight - but it had 2 white dots about 1/3 of the way up the (thorax) body. Not a white tail - kept climbing up and down its thread. Any thoughts?? (I killed it :( as not sure if it was about to pop lots of little spiders around the house, may have been pregnant from the size of the belly)
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Discovery Centre 27 March, 2010 16:17

Hi Neil,

if you can obtain an image of the spider and e-mail it to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au we will try and identify it for you.

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Rebecca 3 April, 2010 18:33
hi i'm just wondering if wolf spiders are more infectious to animals like chickens rabbits and dogs also how can i get rid of them around my yard?? thanks
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Discovery Centre 6 April, 2010 14:40

Hi Rebecca, I don't believe that wolf spiders pose a serious threat to pets or humans. It is hard to remove them from your property as wolf spiders are wandering spiders and new individuals will recolonise from neighbouring properties. Spiders have no interest in people and as long as you don't threaten them will leave people alone, and will go about their business of catching insects and other invertebrates.

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Jessica 8 May, 2010 05:46
Hi my name Jessica i went into my sons room and there where weds EVERYWHERE i don't now if there daddy long legs baby's or not but there where crawling and they are really tiny they came from a truck i brought in from outside they just showed up out of no where i went into my sons room and seen them all there where so many webs and the little spiders where all over his crib what do i do i am really scared of spiders so please help me i got my mom to clean them out but i don't want my `son in there please help
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Discovery Centre 11 May, 2010 10:17

Hi Jessica, no spiders feed on people or have a desire to bite people. The Museum does have a free identification service, so if you or someone else can safely collect a couple of the small spiders we can try and identify them for you. If there are suddenly a lot of small spiders there may have been an egg sac in the house that has released a number of baby spiders. Or as you say you may have brought them inside on a toy. Probably the easiest thing to do is to just keep regularly vacuuming up the spiders and any webs they build.

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Shannyn 27 December, 2013 13:06
Hello, I am confident that my 3 month old rabbit was bitten by a black house spider, is this lethal to my rabbit? Thank you
Beth 12 May, 2010 21:13
Hi there, I have a question regarding black house spiders and white tails. Recently my pet cat was bitten by a spider on the top of her thigh. She was either bitten at the veterinary clinic or near after in our home when she was still very weak from the side effects of anesthesia. Very sadly she died within three days of treatment of IV fluids and antibiotics. Since then we have searched the house for any evidence of spiders and have only come across a black house spider outside near a window frame. We have another cat and we are very worried for his well being. Both cats have always been strictly indoors. The whole four years we've lived here we've never seen a white tail, do you think its possible the black house spider could cause such fatal bites in cats?
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Discovery Centre 13 May, 2010 14:08

Hi Beth - We'll pass your question through to an entomologist, and see if they have an answer for you.

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Discovery Centre 18 May, 2010 16:09

Hi Beth, we are sorry to hear of the loss of your cat. We are not aware of Black House Spiders or White-tailed Spiders posing a high risk to dosmestic pets. These spiders can be quite common in domestic situations and you would imagine that if they could easily kill pets that deaths would be far more common. Both these species of spiders tend to run when faced with a threat. It may have been that your cat's immune system was reduced as a result of treatment or the anesthesia. 

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Claire 20 May, 2010 15:07
Your website is fantastic! I love that you are able to help identify spiders!! We have sent you 2 photos and look forward to finding out if it is indeed a redback or not! Thanks!
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Discovery Centre 21 May, 2010 10:48

Hi Claire, thank you for sending us your very good quality images complete with coins to give us an idea of scale. The e-mail we sent letting you know that the spider looks to be a juvenile redback should have reached you by now.

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Shannon Rosemary Selvaratnam 23 May, 2010 17:24
Hi I found a red back spider in my garage I would like to know more about the red back spider the red back spider I found in my garage was scary.
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Discovery Centre 24 May, 2010 12:29

Hi Shannon - Our Red Back Spider infosheet and the Victorian Spiders website contain lots of information about Red Back Spiders that you may find helpful.

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Beth 3 June, 2010 20:09
Hi there, I wrote to you earlier this month about my late cat that was bitten by a spider while under the effects of anesthesia and sadly died. Since then we have found an 'insect' in our washing machine and are wondering how it can be identified. Can we send it in? Any information would be appreciated. Many thanks.
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Discovery Centre 4 June, 2010 12:25

Hi Beth, we do have a free identification service at the Museum. If the insect is still alive, please place it in the freezer overnight which will humanely kill it, (it is illegal to send most live insects through the post). Then place it in a small container which won't get crushed such as a pill jar and mail it to Discovery Centre PO Box 666 Melbourne 3001, along with your contact details. It is illegal to send flammable material through the post so please don't add any methylated spirits or anything like that. 

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Beth 15 June, 2010 15:39
Thanks for letting me know about the free identification. I sent the spider early last week, just wondering how long the identification process usually takes? Many thanks again.
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Discovery Centre 16 June, 2010 14:50

Hi Beth, you're very welcome and glad we can help out. Sometimes identifications can take up to a few weeks depending on the workload and availability of our collection managers and curators. We'll contact you directly as soon as we have an identification on the spider.

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Kenneth Twomey From Pest Control Treatments 18 June, 2010 23:03
All Spiders can make us fear them just the sight of one and my wife will scream, this is a good thing if we did not have fear of them my kids would have a spider collection instead of a ant farm as I do pest control I have seen some large spiders the one I remember the most was when a Childs helmet had a red back spider as big as a 20 cent piece in it
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john 12 July, 2010 00:24
found a huntsman today with unusal markings and colour.have seen many different types but none like this.can i send you in a pic?
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Discovery Centre 12 July, 2010 13:26

Hi John, you are welcome to send an image of the spider to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au and we will try and identify it for you.

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ben 22 July, 2010 20:43
hi i came across this spider and it is as big as a twenty cent coin and skinny shinny legs it has a an very large abdomen roughly a bit smaller then a 5 cent coin its hairy on the abdomen and the rest of the body i found it in a shed in a web near the ground i am wondering what type of spider is it thanks ben
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Discovery Centre 23 July, 2010 16:49

Hi Ben, there are many different species of spider and we need to see an image to ensure we give you the correct identification and information. If you can safely do so please take an image of the spider and e-mail it to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au

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Daniel 7 October, 2010 02:46
hi ive got very strange looking spiders all around my house and i notice u dont have any pics of these types of spiders can i give a plce where i can send pics of these spiders kinda worryed they might bite us 1 day and we wont know what to do
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Discovery Centre 7 October, 2010 10:29
Hi Daniel, please feel free to send some images to discoverycentre@museum.vic.gov.au and we can attempt to identify the spiders.
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martin 12 November, 2010 15:26
Hi, I absolutely love this service from the Discovery Centre. I live in Thornbury and have a large gum and a silky oak close to our back door. At night, I practically only have to open the door and a huntsman will come in. I've found two in the garden today, and a black house spider crawled up my arm. I know they're all pretty harmless but it's freaking my wife out, particularly because we've got two toddlers. I'm thinking of chopping down the silky oak anyway because it's old and positioned to fall through my kitchen roof if I don't. Might that reduce the number of spiders, or are they likely living in the bark of the gum? Apart from getting rid of the tree, is there anything else I can do to reduce the number of spiders? Because there really are quite a few. Thanks very much in advance.
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Discovery Centre 16 November, 2010 09:19
Hi Martin, tell your wife not to be too concerned as no spiders feed on people and they do not seek us out as we pose more of a threat to them than they do to us. Cutting down the Silky Oak would remove one resource for the spiders but your gum tree will also have spider inhabitants. The Australian Museum's Spiders in the House and Garden page will provide you with some tips to minimise spider numbers in the home and garden. Note it talks about the Sydney Funnel-web which we do not have in Melbourne.
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Amy 1 December, 2010 22:38
great site, trying