Rain Spiders

Although the Kloof is home to several large species of animal, it is also home to various types of smaller species, including numerous insect, spider and scorpion species. Not even mentioning the abundant bird life!

One of the more abundant spider species that call the Kloof home, are rain spiders – also known as huntsman spiders (Afr: jag spinnekop). They are fairly large spiders with very distinct colouration, especially on their underside. Rain spiders (as they are known in South Africa) take their name from the fact that they are most often found inside our homes before it starts to rain. Forget about the SABC weather report, these guys are hardly ever wrong!  

Rain spiders do not spin webs like most other spider species; they are instead active hunters that will pursue prey. The only time they spin “webs” are when building nests. A rain spider nest looks like this – I bet you have seen quite a few of these before and never knew who made it?

Now for all practical reasons, rain spiders are perfectly harmless to us humans. People tend to fear them mainly because of their big size (these guys do get to be very large indeed!) and the fact that they so often wander into our homes. They also put up quite a show when provoked, raising their front legs and exposing their fangs, often running towards and attempting to bite anything brought close to them. Unfortunately, this usually ends in the poor spider simply being killed – either suffering a prolonged death by being sprayed with insecticide not made for anything nearly as large as a rain spider, or by simply being squashed. It is so sad that people in this day and age still do not realise that the rain spider means them no harm and if left alone will most likely find its own way out again, to where it will not be disturbed by lights and people. The most ironic thing is probably killing one of nature’s best pest controllers with the very insecticide that was meant for the rain spider’s natural prey?

If you do happen to find a rain spider in your home, what do you do? Well, easy. Usually just leaving it alone works pretty well and the spider will make its own way out again. If having the spider inside your home bugs you, taking it out is very simple. A large container and a poking instrument of sorts is all you need. Simply place the container in front of the spider and then gently poke its backside with your poking instrument. Now I have to add, these spiders are pretty aggressive, so if you are afraid of spiders rather get someone else to do it! Also, if possible take them out during the day – as they are nocturnal hunters they are almost inactive during the day and it makes taking them out a breeze. At night they tend to run around a bit. Once the spider is in your container (with a lid on preferably), take it out to remote spot in the garden with plenty of plant growth for the spider to hide in and release it. Or even better yet, release it in the Kloof if that would make you feel safer!

Spotting them in the Kloof itself is pretty hard; they are very well camouflaged and usually stay hidden during the day. The easiest way to find them is when they are nesting; the female will always be close to the nest guarding it. Also be on the lookout for outgrown, discarded skins, if there are a few skins in a small area, chances are the spider will be somewhere close by.  

For more on rain spiders please see this Wikipedia article – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huntsman_spider

The photos in the gallery below were all taken in homes that are next to the Kloof, but these spiders can be found almost anywhere.

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66 thoughts on “Rain Spiders

  1. My younger daughter found one in our pantry. We caught it later and I then noticed that it had white-banded legs, originally thought is was a rain-spider, but looking it up eventually found this article. Live in Krugersdorp, Gauteng. Spider was let go, but unfortunately no pictures were taken of it.

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  2. Thanks for great article.
    Anyone got experience with one that just keeps coming back? I call her Charlie, she has a missing right leg and a crooked left one and I’ve taken her outdoors about 6 times in the last 3 months.. On her second visit she tried to make a nest inside (luckily I got her safely into the garden) I saw her a few weeks ago again and she is back tonight, with a little one in tow..
    Find it strange that she keeps coming back..

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  3. Thank you for this insightful article. a Rainspider built her nest inside my office. I monitor her from day one and took every four days a picture. Day 26 the eggs hatched and now the mother is not to be seen. She was seen three days ago during the day. Now, I’m worried about the little ones.

    My question: Should I release the nest with little spiders into nature or should I leave them?.

    What must I do please?.

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  4. Do not kill them. They do a good work!. We have one in our house for 3 years now. He lives in his corner and does not bother us. Get rid of unwanted insects for us.
    We harm nature enough. Please educate people about the rain spider. Do not kill.

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  5. You gave an interesting viewpoint on these spiders. But as someone who really dont like spiders. Still feeling chills just thinking about it. I dont like them. Not even mentioning that I felt my pets are threatened by it. It is said to have great speed. So why trust it? And think it is safe. The spider is huge.
    But ok. After reading this article I took my pets away. And made a very silent prayer that the spider will be away by morning. I dont want to harm it. For the pure fact of it maybe coming at me. You will hear the screams all over South Africa. lol. So patience is a virtue. I am trying to learn. And improve. And dearly hope it is gone by morning. But thanks for the article. I found the answer I needed though. If it is good in nature and not poisonous. I wont bother it.

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  6. They’re such pretty spiders. I think spiders in general are extremely valuable creatures and don’t get the respect they deserve. Thanks for the fantastic article on Rain Spiders. I have them in my home on odd occasions and feel privileged when they grace us with their presence, sometimes staying for weeks or even months at a time. They’re always welcome here. They even get names if they stay long enough.
    Nature gets a raw deal from the human race – stemming from ignorance and irrational fears. It’s so important to enlighten people and help them understand so that they learn to think twice before just killing little things like spiders which play such an important role.Nobody is allowed to kill spiders in my home.

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  7. I have a huge one who has taken up residence in the kitchen. He has spent the morning in the sink (good excuse not to wash up).

    My worry is that my 10 month old kitten is going to find and “play” with him. He is really big and, in my ignorance, I fear bigger = more venom.

    How dangerous is the venom to kittens?

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  8. Thank you for trying to educate us, I truly appreciate it, however I am terrified spiders. This evening I was sitting at home with my 2 grandchildren and suddenly seen this huge spider, at that moment I was more afraid for my grandkids. Luckily I had a family member with me. I ran to my neighbor and he assisted me by getting rid of it. He did not kill it he just used on God I dnt know what he used but managed to to open a window and pushed it out. I am so shaken that I’m on guard now as my babies are asleep. Pls I hate harming what God has created but I need to know what pesticide is rhe best to keep them out. Thanks again.

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  9. We have had numerous rain spiders coming into the house and we either take them out or leave them to find their way out.I discovered a nest inside the diningroom window near the fan light with lots of little ones inside it. Shall I leave them there and hope they leave for greener pastures later on? Is, never kill spiders as they are useful creature. Of course I will not disturb them either.

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  10. We live in Saldanha Bay. Rain spiders often appear in our home.I have mastered the art of capturing them unharmed by placing a plastic container over them and sliding a stiff piece of paper underneath.I then dispose of it in the open veld nearby.

    Is this the best thing to do.?

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  11. Someone asked me to remove a female rain spider with her sack and approximately 30 babies as big as a pinhead. This was done very carefully. The mommy pretends to be dead.Does the babies depend on her for food?

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  12. Pingback: Rain Spider - Nicolas Fotografi

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