The woodlouse spider
Unlike most spiders, the woodlouse spider only has six eyes instead of eight and powerful fangs
Watch out for this fanged friend lurking under logs and leaf litter
Woodlouse spider Dysdera crocata
DID YOU KNOW? Hunting at night without the use of a web, the woodlouse spider has some of the largest fangs of all British spiders, which are clearly visible as they project directly from the head. Despite its terrifying appearance it eats only woodlice, using its fangs to pierce their tough, protective exoskeleton. The woodlouse spider has been known to bite humans, causing pain and itching similar to a bee sting. It has a dark red thorax and orange-brown abdomen, although the colouration can vary in individuals. Unlike most spiders, which have eight eyes, it has only six. The female is larger than the male, reaching up to 10mm-15mm in length. The woodlouse spider is also known by the names sowbug killer, pillbug hunter and slater spider, which are all related to its penchant for eating woodlice.
DIET Woodlice, woodlice and more woodlice, which it hunts mainly at night.
LIFECYCLE Mature females mate and lay eggs during spring and summer. The egg sac may contain around 70 eggs and is guarded by the female inside her silken retreat. Individuals take 18 months to mature before they are ready to breed. The average lifespan of a woodlouse spider is just three years.
HABITAT The woodlouse spider is found wherever there are woodlice, including gardens, particularly those with a lot of wood, such as decking. It is distributed widely throughout the UK but is more common in the south. Active at night, by day it rests under logs, stones and holes in walls, occasionally venturing into damp buildings.
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