Quick facts

Common name: woodlouse spider

Scientific name: Dysdera crocata

Family: Dysderidae (six-eyed spiders)

Habitat: woodland, gardens, walls and brickwork, log piles, sometimes indoors

Diet: woodlice

Predators: birds, small mammals

Origin: native

What do woodlouse spiders look like?

This spider is easy to identify. It has a smooth, shiny appearance with a large, pinkish-grey abdomen and reddish head and legs.

Its prominent jaws are its defining feature. Like most spiders, females are larger than males, reaching between 1.1-1.5cm in length.

Credit: Avalon Photoshot License / Alamy Stock Photo

What do woodlouse spiders eat?

This spider’s powerful jaws are designed to pierce the tough armour of woodlice, their only prey. Instead of spinning webs, they hunt at night by searching warm, damp places for roaming woodlice, capturing them in their forward-facing jaws. During the day they hole up in special hiding places lined with silk.

Did you know?

The female’s egg sac may contain up to 70 eggs.

How do woodlouse spiders breed?

Adults are aggressive towards one another, making courtship a potentially deadly affair. Once mated, the female spins a silken sac in which to lay her eggs and guards her young from other spiders and centipedes.

Credit: Stephen Dalton / naturepl.com

Where do woodlouse spiders live?

Woodlouse spiders are found across the UK wherever their woodlouse prey is common. Warm and damp habitats with plenty of crevices are favourites, including rotting wood, brick walls and even cellars.

Did you know?

This spider’s jaws are strong enough to give humans a painful nip if handled.

Signs and spotting tips

These spiders are mainly active at night when they are on the hunt. They can be found throughout the year, but are most commonly encountered during spring. Try looking under rocks or plant pots in the garden, or in the crevices of brickwork for their silken lairs.

Credit: Nature Photographers Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Threats and conservation

The UK population is not thought to be under threat.