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. Dis eintlik die onskadelikste spinnekop, maar die grootte maak dit nogal skrikwekkend.
    Hulle sit gewoontlik op my gordyne, maar ons los hulle hulle raak gou weer weg, en pla niemand nie.
    Moet asseblief nie enigeiets aan hulle doen nie, en los asseblief daardie blik gif, so n spinnekop vat ure voordat hy doodgaan, en dis so wreed.
    Wys eerder vir jou kinders dit en verduidelik wat julle hier gelees het aan hulle.

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  2. cool website! Would like to visit sometime! Do you know of any website that will give me lots of info on the palyste cantaneus? Its really important that I get the right info!!

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  3. Hi
    Can u just answer these questions for me please:
    Is the rainspider poisonous to people, aspecially to 2year old children?
    Do they bite?
    Is it painfull when they bite?

    Thanks Christina

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  4. Thanks for a lovely article promoting these wonderful spiders. I get so mad when uninformed/ scared people kill them. Two wonderful books to get: Spiderwatch in Southern Africa by Astri & John Leroy & Southern African Spiders (An Identification Guide) by Martin R. Filmer. I hope that more people will realise that they don’t have to go to the Kruger Park to see the big 5 but can look at the wonder of nature right in their own homes and gardens. Our garden is a haven for all sorts of gogas and spiders and we are blessed to photograph them and discover new creatures. Children love to go bug hunting so lets encourage the future generation to cherish our beautiful wild life.

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  5. Hi Christina

    They say that the rain spiders bite is no worse than a bee sting. If left alone they will not bite you. If you provoke them by trying to handle them especially when they are protecting their nest, you are more likely to get bitten.

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  6. After reading your method of catching a rain spider, I would like to share my method. I have caught and released many of these spiders over the years and I keep a large glass jar (old gherkin or pickled onoion jar) with holes poked in the lid for these occasions. Don’t scare the spider and gently lower the jar over it until it touches the legs, at which point it will retract it’s legs and hop into the jar. Colse the lid – done! Release it in a nice bushy area – no need to kill it. And keep the jar for next time.

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  7. We have just found one in my mom’s garden, but we are not 100% sure if it is a Rain Spider. The nest is typical of a Rain Spider, but the spider it’s self has bright orange rings on the legs? Is it just a different type of Rain Spider or a different spider all together?

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  8. Have had the priveledge of being in contact with these spiders over the last 10 years,in Norkem Park SA.In my daughters garden.I recently captured one and do not know how to tell “male or female” I have it in a “spider home” and am teaching my grandchildren about the benifit of these and other creatures.I hope to instill in them less fear and consevation is the best way to go. I am almost not keen to let it go. As i am enjoying having it around. I need more info on how big they get and what food do they prefer..Thanks for your pictures and info so far.. It is good to educate people this way..Irene

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  9. Just discovered a large spiky spider nest in grape vine outside house in Strand…immediately found its duplicate on your site…Thankyou. Now I know they are well and healthy in my garden – they come inside from time to time and I long ago learned to move them using your method and my breath held till the spider drops into the container. Have added your site to my favourites.
    Ann Ralston (Retired GP, senior citizen)

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  10. The jar method works perfectly. As it is see-through the spider does not see it coming, so will not jump or run when you put it over the spider. If the spider does not comply by jumping into the jar, I use a piece of paper to slide underneath the jar and spider. This usually does the job and once the spider is inside the jar you can close the lid and let the spider go outside.

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    • @Pauline I did a quick search on the web and it seems that the spider will eventually regain mobility, but it could be many months, if at all! So the spider’s chances of survival would in my opinion be small. But I am no expert in the field!

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  11. Stay in Krugersdorp in west rand find a massive one sitting on the roof in my passage when i got up sunday morning.
    Do you found them al over South Africa or only in Pretoria area.
    Caught it in a glass jar and released it into Garden. But Boy was he big!!!!

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  12. On 18 March posted about the spider that got paralysed by a wasp. The spider has been moving a bit and my son has given him a Cricket to eat which he is now eating. I think he might get through this ordeal.

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  13. I found a rain spider and fell I love on first site. I am an animal lover and actually want to keep it. I fed it a few times and actually want to see how big she gets. Do you think it is advisable keeping one in Johannesburg?

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  14. Realy insite full! One of my best moments of the Huntsman spiders were in a friends garden. As the sun broke throw just after a cloud brust…a few drops fell onto their nest and it looked like something out of movie! All you could see were little spider running on the ground, it almost like a mini wave of spiders.

    Yes, weather-man Pete has nothing on them, because I cought two last night and tonight it’s storming. The best way I found, was to use a glass to cover and a page or anything flate to slide it underneath and free them outside.

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  15. Really insightful! One of my best moments of the Huntsman spiders were in a friends garden. As the sun broke through just after a cloud burst…a few drops fell onto their nest and it looked like something out of movie! All you could see were little spiders running on the ground, it’s almost like a mini wave of spiders.

    Yes, weather-man Pete has nothing on them, because I caught two last night and tonight it’s storming. The best way I found, was to use a glass to cover and a page or anything flat to slide it underneath and free them outside.

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  16. We have just moved into Moreleta Village, and within a few days a beautiful rainspiders has built a nest amongst the plants. the babies have now hatched and she is guarding the nest. We have found another female and another nest , also with babies. I have taken photos of both. I am so proud of the spiders in my garden and out little grandchildren are learning a lot! Thanks for keeping us posted.

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  17. I had quite a scary experience with one of these big spiders, this particular one was very big (biggest one I’ve seen) it somehow crept into my skinny jeans I think when they were drying on the line. Not realizing it was in there I put them on, had them on for at least 10 minutes before realizing I had something in my jeans just above my ankle, I thought it may have been a sock so I put my hand up and grabbed this massive spider which was still alive!! Shame the poor thing must have been a little damaged cause it didn’t move too much but we put it outside after a screaming session that lasted about 5 minutes! Oh I did take some pics too cause I didn’t think anyone would believe me! I’m still getting the shivers just thinking about it!

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  18. I recently caught a fairly large female, with a 110mm legspan, which we put in a 60cm fish tank with tight fitting lid (With breathing holes and a crew-top feed tube.
    We have fed her a few geckos and other small damsel flies, which she eats with great enthusiasm.

    I am personally quite scared of spiders, having suffered a terrible bite several years ago, but am quite fascinated by the size of this female, which I fear is nearing the end of her life cycle.

    I decided to keep this one alive, rather than bestow my size 11 foot treatment, which many of her kin have previously suffered, in an attempt to give my 5 year old son an appreciation of these incredible creatures.

    Great site, and some very funny comments!

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  19. I had a big one sitting on my curtains one evening. While my daughter tried to catch it, it decideded to jump to another spot on the curtain. I got such a fright that I crawled on all fours over the bed an down the passage, I could not spare the time to get up and run. Needless to say that I had carpet burn on my knees and my friends thought it was the joke of the year. I am 63 three years old and are terrified of spiders. Just too many eyes watching you.

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  20. i recently found a rain spider at the bottom of the school swimming pool. after fishing it out, i realised that it had drowned. it did not move at all and i spent the first three lessons showing it all my students. about 4 hours later, it suddenly started to move around and when i moved the box it was in, it began to run around… can these spiders somehow breathe underwater?

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  21. I live in Bedfordview and in the rainy season we get quite a few of these spiders in the house. I use a cut-off 2 litre Coke bottle and slide a piece of cardboard under it after it’s in the bottle and then let it loose in the bushes.
    I don’t kill them.

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  22. When we find a Rain Spider (or any spider, for that case), I scream, then intimidate the spider by staring at it, and then we just wait until someone brave enough catches it with a large container and puts it outside. I am just too scared to do it. Which is bad, because I want to teach my children that these animals fear us more than we must fear them…

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  23. I live in Bloemfontein and one morning last year woke up to find a rather large (about 5 cm) rain spider above the door of my room. After promtly catching it I placed it in a fish tank. From its non-clave pedipulps I could see it was female. Fed it a range of insects, mostly crikets, over the past months and watched it go through four moltings to its current legspan of just under 12 cm. Also found several other spiders in the house around that time, male and female. Cought a male spider and placed it in the female’s tank. She was quite tolerable of him, even when he was constantly next to her. After about a month or so I found her eating him. Not shure if they mated as she was not full grown at that time and I don’t know if the females can store sperm. She also lost her two left front legs and right pedipulp, but they grew back in her last molting from nothing, although they’re slightly smaller and darker. As far as I can tell she is of the species Palystes leroyorum. Last night she started spinning a nest and it seem she laid eggs. The silk cacoon is a round, thick disc about 2.5cm in diameter and she is currently on top, guarding it. Heard somewhere it takes around 21 days to hatch. I will post photo later.

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  24. I found one of them sitting on my kitchen ceiling this morning, what a beautiful creature! Haven’t seen many in my life but they are stunning. Don’t think my niece would agree though as she got the freight of her life when she saw it. My 19 month old girl was absolutely fascinated with the spider, kept on looking for it when she came back into the kitchen. So I’m hoping by seeing the Rain spider that we will be getting rain soon 🙂

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  25. I had a rain spider in a big fish tank (female) I supplied her with nesting material (Leaves etc.) since she was spinning a nest. I had no male, yet the first batch of eggs was discarded. The second batch hatched and I had about 90 young spiders before they started eating each other, so I released them in my garden waiting for summer to get a pair. How did she produce life hatch lings without a male?

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    • Hi Lydia,

      Although I might be mistaken about this, Rain Spiders can store sperm from a single mating to last them for the duration of their lifespans, or at least for a extended period of time. I would suspect that is what happened in your spider’s case.

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  26. Hi, i have a 3 year old who loves rain spiders, and once she gets hold of one she has made a new best friend, she is however very gentle with the spider but i fear it might bite her, what happens if she gets bitten, what would i need to do?

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  27. Ek ht my byna in n koma geskrik di reen spinnkop ht oor my nek geloop ht eers gedink iemand trek n prank op my ek ht probeer navorsing doen om t kyk of hulle giftig is maar kan nie dit kry ni is hulle giftig of ni.

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  28. The other morning I got into the shower and was just about to wash my hair when something jumped onto my back. Needless to say, running out naked did not seem like a bad thing to do at the time. It was a rainspider and luckily it jumped onto the shower curtain from my back. I made no sound whatso ever – I was too scared to even scream. My laughing husband caught and released it for me.

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  29. Hi
    I’ve caught a rain spider that was chilling in my bathroom. All I did was gently place my hand in front of it then gently touch its backside. They really passive nd seem to have no worries. I’m able to handle it from hand to hand, which is good being that its my first spider to handle. It is however very very fast as she makes these quick sudden sprints up my arms…a rush I tell you! Bt I ĽÔѶέ them nd wud never hurt them.

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  30. so sorry to all you spider lovers, I almost sat on one while reaching for the tv remote, I screamed so loud and ran out in my pj’s. My teenage daughter following me screaming hysterically and not knowing at what. I made my husband catch it, he caught it while breaking off some of his legs. I hate the damn things. Tomorrow I will be spraying the whole house with the deadliest insecticide.

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  31. Hi – I really enjoyed reading the site info – i have a great love rain spiders – i always feel that they bring me a good omen, hope in times of change and creative inspiration. At the moment I have a female who has taken up residence in the bathroom – I usually leave them to do their own thing but this female decided to build her nest int he corner – I am moving house in a week and I know the new owner will kill her so I want to move her outside – any suggestions on how to move her with her nest _ its not very big yet – about the size of a golf ball- not sure how big it might get but she spends alot of her time wrapped around it ??? Appreciate any help with this…

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  32. Great site!

    Brenda you need to chill out! Leave the insecticides alone please and let the man in your house take it outside, that is what we are there for.

    I have one in my house right now. I dig these spiders because of there colour and size and boy, this one is huge!! Have not seen one in ages so I feel lucky to have one, means I am doing something right in my garden.

    Going to leave this one were it is for now because I want to see if the myth is really true, is it going to rain tonight?

    I am thinking of moving him but the scary way! Will let you know how it goes and I promise I wont harm the spider in the process…I am not a jumpy guy!

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  33. Hi! I read your site about Rain spiders to inform myself of their habits in order to keep my home and surrounds as free as possible from mutual encounters where he/she will lose and very definitely not be saved by a see-through container, fed spider goodies and provided with maternity necessities.
    I am sickened by the sight of these awful but useful, I know,creatures. I suffer fom agoraphobia or whatever and am astounded by the comments of all those spider-friendly folk out there….dear lord……
    I know their bite is harmless, but my heart-attack when I spot one, isn’t.

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  34. Hi ek het i pereby gesien i reen spinnekop opsleep teen ons muur ek het besef hy wil eiers in hom le en omdat ek so baje van spinnekope hu ( al is ek bietjie bang en sal als gee om te weet om hule te kalmeer en vas te hu) het ek die pereby afgegooi sodat ek die apinnekop kon ret. ek het die spinnekop op i plaar gesit enbi huisi gemaak vir hom. Hy het die eerste 2 dae gelyk as hy dood is maar ek het geleer dat hule net in i koma gan na i pereby steek. Dis nu die derde. Dag ek hy begin nu baje lewe kry. Ek hoop net hy herstel 100 % 🙂

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  35. I was watering the Strelitzias and discovered 4 big nests’with babies’ I think the water disturbed them but after a while they all crept back inside the nest. There are many! These spiders seem to like building their nest here, it is warm and very quiet and I suppose a good supply of food. Do not know what they eat. They become creepy looking after watching them for a while, but they can carry on in their own time!

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  36. Hi

    I know little about spiders except that I am scared of them. Am from PTA recently moved to Rustenburg and one particular type of spider stays in the parts. Except for the many legs and the fact that I’ve never seen a spider that moves so fast and quick in dissappearing making me even more scared of it, I dont know its name.

    I dont like stepping on any animals but the spider, lizard and ant population in these parts is unsettling when you go to sleep.

    Help on repellants if any cause the internet doesnt say much about how to repel them in SA.

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  37. Have one on my bedroom roof all day today. Normally kill them but thought I would do some research. So sorry I ever killed them. Leaving this guy where he is. Looks like a small male about 6cm. I will see if he goes when I leave the window open. Go used to him. Please tell me they kill parktown prawns

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  38. Brought in my child’s sneakers in this morning,because it was drizzling. As I stuck my finger inside, I got stung by something. I initially thought it was thorns,because two black “thorns” were stuck in my finger. When I got inside, I saw movement inside the shoe! I nearly touched it again.(yelled a bit) I love spiders(not to touch them,though) and always take them out,this rainspider also. What I find very interesting is the two “thorns”it left behind. Any explanation??

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  39. im sorry but I freek out at any spider small little ones or the BIG ones I cant even look at pictures without freeking out I stop breathing when I see one as it is there is one outside my door 😦

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  40. We moved into Blairgowrie, Randburg, in June this year and I am finding many of these guys. BIG ones. I have developed quite a soft spot for them (not sure my family agrees :-)) However the easiest way to catch & release them I have found is a large butterfly net. Place it gently over the spider. They then crawl into it without getting hurt and you can then release them in the garden quite easily. Happy hunting!

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  41. My parents just found a spider on the bed we think it is a rain spider but I am now so scared I can bearly sleep I now let 2 dogs sleep with me.Can the hurt us? How do they come in our house? Plzz let me know about my answers I am very scared!

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  42. Hi all
    I have been absolutely phobic about any kind of spider for as long as I can remember. I used to kill rain spiders with an arsenal of anything I could lay my hands on, however recently my partner has been catching and releasing them back into our garden. I am still petrified of them however and probably always will be. We are finding more and more of them are coming into the house. Within the last 6 weeks we have removed 9 spiders ranging in size from the size of an average outstretched hand to slightly smaller ones. I really don’t mind them being outside but I am becoming a bit of a paranoid wreck with the numbers inside. Is there anything that can discourage them from coming inside?

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  43. Second nest in my garden was built over a week ago and I saw the small ones out today. About 30 -50 little spiders. I am not sure if they get back in or leave the nest. They did sit on the nest for a few hours today, the female caught a fly and was eating it with all the small spiders around her. The female is still on the nest tonight. Little ones inside i think.

    I also found that you can look at the nest at night with a small infrared light without bothering the spider too much.

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  44. What a fantastic article on rain spiders. I for one absolutely love them as I have a problem with cockroaches and they keep the levels down beautifully. I have an urgent question please …. A rain spider built her nest in one of my bedroom curtains and as soon as the little ones came out, she disappeared?? What do I do? Do I take the curtain outside and leave it there for a while, or do I just leave them to find their own way out? Please help. 🙂

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  45. We have a lot of rain spiders I’m so glad that they are harmlios to us humans but I love the articale on then also scarde of them but just love the nature so mutsch to have resect for them

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