Woodlouse Hunter: Dysdera crocata (84018 bytes)

Woodlouse Hunter: Dysdera crocata

By Judy Sedbrook, Colorado Master GardenerSM , Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Denver

The name "Woodlouse Hunter" comes from this spider's preference for woodlice, also known as pillbugs or roly-polies. Dysdera have large, strong fangs that can pierce the hard body of the pillbug and other arthropods. They also hunt other prey that may be found in their dark, moist environment.

Dysdera have a cream-colored body with reddish legs and cephalothorax. Adults measure about -inch in length.

Largely nocturnal, this spider can be spotted during the day under stones, logs, and garden debris. When not hunting, the Dysdera makes its home in a silken retreat. This retreat is where the female lays her eggs after mating in April. As many as 70 eggs are laid and suspended inside the retreat, and the spiderlings stay there with their mother for a short while before venturing out on their own.

Although not agressive, the Dysdera is quick to defend itself from intruders. Its bite can be painful but the venom does not cause serious medical problems.

Photo: Judy Sedbrook

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010