The secret life of the great angle spider

The secret life of the great angle spider

the essentials in brief

  • Angle spiders are harmless spiders that are not aggressive; however, in rare cases they can bite
  • Angular spiders are very useful because they eat flies, mosquitoes and woodlice
  • Large angle spiders can be kept from entering the house with lavender bags, fly screens or essential oils such as neem, lavender and tea tree oil, citrus fruits, peppermint or cinnamon

Dangerous and toxic?

Eratigena atrica is one of the completely harmless species that do not show any aggressive behavior towards humans. If they are disturbed in their caves, they leave them and flee. In the event of major disturbances, the animals give up their previous nest and search for an alternative hiding place.

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Do angle spiders bite?

It happens occasionally that humans are bitten by the great angle spider. However, this behavior is the big exception, because even scientists need a lot of patience to get the animals to bite. Your mouth parts can only penetrate thin layers of skin, which is why a bite is noticeable but harmless. In the worst case, the poison leads to slight reddening, burning and itching. The symptoms will automatically go away in an hour or two. A mosquito bite is much more unpleasant.

Don't be afraid of the big angle spider! The animals are completely harmless and are more likely to flee than to bite people.

What is the use of angle spiders?

The animals have an important function in the ecosystem because they keep the populations of small insects in check. There are numerous pests such as woodlice, flies and mosquitoes on their menu. Thus, they keep houses and apartments clean.

Their appearance does not indicate unsanitary conditions, because the angle spider prefers warm and dry habitats and avoids damp basement rooms or bathrooms. At the same time, angle spiders provide an important source of food for larger insectivores. They are preyed on by various birds and bats.

Drive away and keep away

The easiest way to keep the spiders away is to use fly screens. If you make sure that all gaps under entrance doors and windows are closed, it will be much more difficult for the animals to enter. However, if angle spiders have found their way into your apartment, simple measures will help.


Refrain from sucking in the spiders. In the vacuum cleaner bag, the animals suffer an agonizing death from suffocation.

Essential oils

Angular spiders abhor intense smells. With fragrance lamps you can effectively scare the animals off so that they look for a new hiding place. You can use ten drops of oil, a squirt of detergent and 450 milliliters of water to create a solution that you apply as a repellent to entry points. As a result, the spiders cannot access your apartment.

Alternatively, you can distribute lavender bags on doors and windows. If you have cats you should not do this. The house cats are sensitive to essential oils.

Suitable substances:

  • Neem, lavender and tea tree oils
  • Citrus fruits
  • Peppermint or cinnamon


The easiest way to remove it is through a tall glass. Put this over the spider. The escape reflex is triggered by slight movements, so that the animal jumps away from the ground. With one quick movement you have caught the spider in the glass. It is not able to climb out the smooth walls and can then be abandoned outdoors.

great-angle spider


Release the spider far from the house so it doesn't find its way back. A pile of wood is perfect because the animal can find alternative retreats here.


The large angle spider (English: giant house spider) belongs to the species from the genus of angle spiders native to Central Europe. It has the scientific name Eratigena atrica, but is sometimes referred to as Tegenaria atrica. This species is the largest spider that can be found in houses in this country. Their frequency is influenced by the weather conditions. The species prefers warm temperatures.

Large angle spider - systematics:

  • Arthropod : belongs to the molting animals
  • Real spider : hunts with webs
  • Funnel spider : builds burrows

"House spider"

The house spider is not only referred to as the large angle spider. Some other species of the genera Eratigena and Tegenaria also have this nickname, as they are preferred in sheds and barns but also in houses and apartments.

House angle spiderTegenaria domesticamoderate latitudesindistinctly curled legs
Wall angle spiderTegenaria parietinaSouthern EuropeWingspan up to 14 cm
Rust-red angle spiderTegenaria ferrugineaisolated in Central EuropeAbdomen serrated rust-red


The spider reaches a body size between ten and 20 millimeters. Females and males can only be differentiated by their size with legs. The span can be up to ten centimeters. The larger females resemble the males in their basic color and pattern.


This is predominantly dark brown, with a light brown drawing in the form of a club on the breastplate. The narrow end of the club runs out towards the abdomen. There are three light brown spots on both sides of this drawing. These converge in rays and decrease in size towards the front and back. A narrow, light central stripe can be seen on the posterior segment of the body. On the side of this drawing there are six angular spots, which is why the species are called angular spiders. These spots partially unite with the median.


The anal opening and spinnerets are located on the underside of the abdomen. A little further forward are the breathing gap and genital opening. The legs are monochrome light brown and have thick bristles and fine hairs. In the case of the large angle spider, the front pair of legs is longest, while the legs become shorter towards the back. In the female, the legs reach twice, in the male three times the body length.


Good runners but bad climbers

With this specially designed running device, angle spiders can achieve impressive speeds. You can cover a distance of 50 centimeters per second. However, they cannot keep up this pace for long. The movements are generated hydraulically by applying pressure to the foreleg. This will stretch your legs. The treadmill is not suitable for climbing because, unlike many other spiders, the hairs hardly generate any adhesive forces. This makes smooth surfaces an insurmountable obstacle.

great-angle spider


The bristles and hair are the most important sensory organs of spiders. They can perceive even the slightest vibrations or low-frequency sounds. The large angle spider has eight eyes of the same size, arranged in two rows one above the other and facing forward. However, your sense of sight is not well developed and is limited to the perception of light and dark contrasts. The individual eyes contain fewer than 400 photoreceptor cells.


The great angle spider can easily be confused with other species from the same genus. The bristle and finely hairy hair is a good distinguishing feature, because other Eratigena species often have curled or spotted legs. In order to clearly identify the species, researchers examine the drawing on the chest, genital organs and the internal structure of certain head extremities, the so-called pedipalps or jaw buttons.

These angle spiders have solid colored legs:

  • Large angle spider (Eratigena atrica)
  • the somewhat smaller Eratigena picta
  • the darker field angle spider (Eratigena agrestis)

Way of life and behavior

The species is nocturnal and builds its network mainly in less disturbed areas in the house. The net is designed in the shape of a funnel, the opening of which tapers towards the end. The spider hangs out in this cave and waits for prey. Catch threads go from the net in all directions, in which passing insects get caught.

Dwelling caves are abandoned when they have been destroyed or the food supply in the area becomes scarce. Sometimes abandoned nests are repopulated and in rare cases the spiders conquer already inhabited funnel nets. In particular, the superior females drive away or kill the smaller males in order to take over their den.

Reproduction and development

In late summer, the males go on forays to find females ready to mate. The males can be recognized at this time by their clearly enlarged pedipalps. Depending on the weather, the mating season can also move into autumn. Low temperatures severely limit mating activity.


Males slowly approach a female, drawing attention to themselves through movements of the front pairs of legs and jaw buttons. The greatest caution is required here, because if the female is not willing to mate, it will kill the male. It can take several hours for pairing to complete. This is repeatedly interrupted by peaceful breaks.

This is how communicative mating behavior is:

  • Male continuously knocks and tugs at the net of the female
  • if successful, the female becomes paralyzed
  • The male can then mate


One month after successful mating, the female produces a white cocoon made of fine spider silk in which the eggs are located. It spins the cave in order to attach the egg cocoon to a star-shaped web of ribbons. A cocoon can contain between 50 and 130 large eggs. After the young animals have hatched, they spend the next few months in the shelter of the nest. They won't leave the web until next spring.


Until the angle spiders have reached their full size, they shed their skin several times. Shortly before moulting, the animals turn dark to almost black. Eventually the breastplate breaks open and the spider writhes out of the old skin, which has become too tight. In the course of moulting, the outer skin is renewed and the spiders gradually grow larger. If it has shed its old skin, the body is extremely soft and has to harden again. During this time the animal rests in its hiding place.

Skin change in short:

  • Skin consists of two layers of chitin
  • the inner layer forms anew before the moult
  • then the outer shell breaks
  • new skin is formed by secretions

Lifespan and dangers

Not all young animals survive the winter. Numerous animals fall victim to the cold or too humid weather in combination with the spread of fungus. Others are stung by hatching creatures and eaten by their later hatching larvae.

The animals that survived the winter grow into adult angle spiders within two months. These usually reach an age of two to three years. In rare cases and under very favorable conditions, life expectancy is up to six years. One of the most dangerous enemies of adult animals is the great trembling spider. She has developed a special fishing technique with which she can also catch much larger spiders.

great-angle spider

distribution and habitat

The range of the species extends across Europe. It occurs in Central Asia and North Africa and was introduced to North America. Here, too, the species was able to establish itself quickly as it finds optimal hiding places in houses and apartments with dry and protected conditions. The large angle spider occurs at heights of up to 800 meters.

Preferred habitats

In nature, the species lives in dry and warm caves that are close to the ground. It uses tree hollows at low altitudes mainly in old deciduous forests, but also occurs in tunnels and buildings. Wine-growing regions offer optimal conditions. Here the spider colonizes burrows under hedges and bushes as well as ruderal locations. Moist habitats and higher habitats are avoided.

In the house

If it gets colder outside, angle spiders look for a warm and protected hiding place. This drives the animals into human dwellings, especially in autumn. When they lay their egg cocoons in dark and protected corners and hatch young animals, the impression of a sudden spider invasion quickly arises.

Angle spiders in human dwellings:

  • dry basement rooms
  • in apartments behind cupboards
  • Barns and sheds


The large angle spider does not produce threads of glue. She is one of those ambulance hunters who storm off when the net is shaken and seize the prey at lightning speed. This is killed with one bite, with digestive enzymes and proteins being injected into the organisms. As a result, the prey is broken down internally and the spider can suck up the liquid pulp with its jaw claws. The food is not eaten in the den but outside the nest. Mainly insects and woodlice are on their menu.

Keep as a pet

The large angle spider is well suited for keeping in the terrarium, because it hardly needs any maintenance and is quiet. Spider lovers enjoy the filigree webs of angle spiders. They can even help manage spider fear. However, refrain from catching animals from nature. They feel more comfortable in their natural environment. Females are better suited for keeping, as males live shorter and do not come to rest in the terrarium.

You have to pay attention to this

All vessels made of glass or plastic are suitable as cultivation containers. The large angle spider doesn't take up much space. The larger the vessel, the more nests it builds. This does not necessarily have to be covered. However, the spider can climb up the walls and escape even with the smallest impurities. There are special fauna boxes or cube terrariums that offer the animals optimal living conditions. Square vessels are more suitable than round glasses, because the spiders can fix their webs well in corners.

For successful breeding:

  • Equip the floor with sand, wood and stones
  • Spray water into the funnel net every two days
  • all insects or house crickets are suitable for feeding

frequently asked Questions

What does the great angle spider eat?

On the menu of this species are various insects that crawl or fly around. If a prey hits the strings, the spider is alerted. It comes out of its hiding place and catches the prey with its powerful jaw claws. Annoying mosquitoes, flies or woodlice are killed with one bite. The spider injects a digestive secretion into the organism so that it is pre-digested from the inside. All you have to do is soak up the liquid paste.

How many insects do spiders eat?

The number of insects eaten by spiders is impressive. All spiders in the world together eat between 400 and 800 million tons of insects and small animals every year. This sum even exceeds the consumption of meat and fish, which is caused each year by the world's population. Taken together, people eat around 400 million tons a year.

Is the great angle spider dangerous?

There are reports that people were bitten by the animal. However, the bite is harmless to humans. Redness and itching will subside after a short time. It is very rare for the spiders to bite, and their mouthparts are difficult to dig into human skin. Usually they flee when they are in danger and find an alternative hiding place instead of attacking.

Where does the great angle spider live?

The species is distributed throughout Europe. In nature the spider lives near the ground. It depends on dark and protected caves, avoiding humid habitats. Since there are optimal hiding places in the vicinity of humans, the large angle spider can often be found in apartments. In autumn, she looks for a suitable retreat, because cold temperatures are suboptimal.

How old is the great angle spider?

The life expectancy of spiders depends not only on weather conditions but also on enemies. Numerous young animals do not survive the first winter. They fall victim to cold temperatures and perish when fungi spread in hiding places that are too damp. If the young animals survived the winter, they can be two to three years old. Less often they have a life expectancy of six years.

What enemies does the great angle spider have?

Parasitic wasps are natural enemies that can also appear in the home. (€ 14.59 at Amazon *) The insects lay their eggs in the young spiders. When the larvae hatch, they eat the animals from the inside. Humans are also one of the greatest enemies of the great angle spider. Fearful people use vacuum cleaners or slippers to get rid of the spider. However, it is better to catch the animal with a glass and bring it outside.