Dark Comb-footed Spider
The Dark Comb-footed Spider (Steatoda grossa), also known as the Cupboard Spider, Brown House Spider, or False Black Widow (several other species are generally known by these names as well), is a species of arachnid found throughout the world, including the coasts of North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. One North American spider (
Steatoda borealis), is a closely related species of Steatoda grossa. There are recent reports of this spider breeding in the United Kingdom as well.
Like black widows, the mature female grows to about 0.44 inches in length. She is dark colored with a round abdomen. The overall coloration ranges from purple-brown to black. There are some lighter colored markings as well. Though this spider resembles a black widow, it does not have the distinctive red hourglass markings. The male is smaller than the female (about 0.25 inches) and is also thinner. The colors in both sexes are similar. The females of this species can live up to six years. Males only live about 12 to 18 months. Males usually die a short while after mating.
The Dark Comb-footed Spider builds a cobweb that usually consists of irregular sticky silk fibers. This spider, like most web-weavers, has poor eyesight and relies on vibrations of the web to let it know if prey may have gotten trapped in its web or to warn it of larger potential threats. It is not an aggressive spider and usually most injuries occur to humans when they accidentally rub or press against the spider. It is possible that some bites occur when the spider mistakes a finger poked into its web for possible prey. It is more likely to flee, however, when any larger creatures are present.
The bite of this species can be very painful to humans, however without any long-lasting illness. Symptoms include blistering at the bite site, and uncomfortable nausea feeling that may last several days. The anti-venom of Latrodectus species has been reported to be effective in treating the bite from S. grossa, after it was mistakenly administered to a bite patient that was believed to have been bitten by the far more dangerous redback. In areas where ranges overlap, this spider is known to feed on true black widows, redback spiders and hobo spiders.