During the colder months of the year, creatures both big and small want to find a cozy spot that they can hunker down and call home during the winter season. Spiders, despite their size, aren’t any different!
Spiders go to both indoor and outdoor locations in the winter – most typically between rocks, leaves and grass, wood piles, inside basements, garages, bathrooms, cabinets, and in window and door entries. Because spiders are cold-blooded, temperature is a key factor in determining where spiders will go.
While some of us aren’t too concerned if spiders decide to stay outside of our home during the winter months, some of us just aren’t a fan of these eight-legged creatures! Let’s explore what happens to spiders during the winter months (and when they come back!)
Do Spiders Hibernate During Winter?
Depending on the species of spider, during the winter months, some spiders can continue living outdoors. Some will make their way indoors if they’re able to, and others may die simply because they’re at the end of their normal life cycle.
Spiders are cold-blooded creatures, meaning that they can’t regulate their own body temperature, this is a key factor in determining where spiders will go during the winter season.
Spiders Build Up Antifreeze When Winter Comes Around
According to research from the Royal Entomological Society, in order for spiders to be able to successfully remain and live outdoors during the winter months, they would have needed to be exposed to the gradually cooling temperatures.
If spiders are exposed to these gradual temperature changes, some spiders can build up “antifreeze” in their bodies so that they won’t freeze in the extreme cold temperatures.
This chemical transformation that takes place internally is a key process in diapause, a regulating mechanism where spiders and other insects enter a state of slowdown or dormancy. While spiders are in this state, they may only emerge from their safe haven on warmer days to feed on insects that may have also become active.
When it comes down to it, if frost or ice aren’t able to build up on these eight-legged arachnids, they’re able to survive the winter season.
Many Common Household Spiders Don’t Make It Through The Winter
For many other common household spiders, their species tend to die in late fall, before winter but after they’ve mated earlier in the autumn season.
An important caveat to this is that while the adult spiders may die, the egg sac that the females lay can survive throughout the cold winter months until springtime when the eggs will hatch and break free from their sac.
There are always unique spider species as well. For example, the tarantula which normally lives in desert or grassland environments can survive for more than a decade!
With all of these different species of spiders, if you find yourself needing help in identifying the type of spiders you’re seeing in your home or yard, never hesitate to reach out to a local expert for proper identification and treatment options.
Outdoor Spiders And The Spaces They Love
For our eight-legged friends who have the ability to generate antifreeze in their system and go dormant over winter, you’re likely to find them in locations that already offer some sort of protection from the extreme elements.
Spiders Hide In Leaves and Grass
Leaves and grass create a covering that spiders can quickly find and camouflage with. Although these are temporary shelters, it creates enough protection from the elements that spiders are able to survive the elements.
If you’re not comfortable with spiders around your home, raking leaves and cutting your lawn shorter will eliminate some of these hiding places.
Spiders Are At Home In Wood Piles
It’s wise to chop wood before the chill of winter truly settles in. Leaving a stack of wood outside your home is just asking for critters to move in, however! Spiders love wood piles.
The nooks and crannies within the wood provide endless hiding places. Even territorial species of spider can all find their own area. If this thought gives you a shiver down your spine, just stack the wood far away from the house and wear gloves when grabbing a new log.
Spiders Go Between Rocks
Whether these spiders may have originated in your garden and yard over summer or have recently mated, it’s not uncommon to be able to find spiders in your rock piles.
The tight cracks between the rocks provide the perfect spider hiding spot, especially during winter.
Most Common Outdoor Winter Spiders
There is little you can do to prevent spiders from moving in (because, after all, the outdoors is their home)! However, you can welcome these guests as a healthy part of a garden ecosystem.
Here are some common outdoor spiders that you might be able to spot in your yard this winter season.
Filmy Dome Spider
These spiders are web spinners that you can usually find in more sheltered areas like under logs, in tree hollows, or at the overhangs of your home.
For identification purposes, these spiders can usually be identified by their long, narrow bodies and their lighter colored legs compared to their brown colored bodies.
Filmy Dome Spiders are active throughout the season, from winter through summer, and because the locations that these spiders build their webs are already in areas that are somewhat covered, they are well on their way to securing a protected home for the winter months.
Yellow Garden Spider
These spiders spin circular webs and can usually be identified by their bright yellow patching against their black bodies.
Males are slightly less vibrant with duller yellow colorations and brownish legs, while the females have reddish brown legs and can grow to be three times larger than their male counterparts.
Male Yellow Garden Spiders will usually die after the mating season in early summer, however the female Yellow Garden Spiders have been known to survive after the first frost of the season and, if this is the case, the females can continue to live for several years.
These spiders normally have brown bodies with black and brown rings on their legs.
Because of their similar coloring to wolf spiders, the two can be confused, but Fishing Spiders can be identified by the arrangement of their eyes that are displayed in two rows of four equally sized eyeballs.
Because of their name, you’re likely to find Fishing Spiders near bodies of water, but boats, pools, and areas under docks that may contain tall grass or rocks are also common places that you might find these spiders roaming.
Where To Find Spiders Outside During Winter
For some of our readers, they may not be worried about the spiders that hang out in their yard during the winter season. After all, the spiders that remain outside aren’t bothering us or interfering with our indoor holiday celebrations!
During the winter months, outdoor spiders will make their homes under tree bark or under wood piles, but it’s not uncommon to spot spiders in rock or leaf piles during winter either. Some spiders will even burrow underneath the snow and into the ground.
Some of these winterized spiders will even prepare their soon to be home by spinning their webs inside of their chosen area so that they can better prepare for their bodies to slow down once the cold settles in.
Once the freezing temperatures come, these spiders are already well suited for the winter season because their metabolism has already slowed and they need less food for survival.
Keeping spiders directly off your house outdoors will help stop those same spiders from getting inside your home in the first place.
Getting Rid Of Outdoor Winter Spiders Near Your Home
If you’re just not a fan of spiders no matter where they decide to make their winter homes, or if you’ve noticed an increase in outdoor spider activity as the temperatures cool, there are options to help reduce the presence of spiders in your yard during the winter season.
- Clean up your landscaping. Since many outdoor spiders will hide in debris and leftover leaf piles that you couldn’t get to before the first frost, keeping your yard tidy is a great pest deterrent.
- Trim your bushes and shrubs in fall to ensure that they’re several feet from your home and other outdoor buildings and consider removing any low growing vegetation near the foundation of your home if it’s not easily maintained. This will help eliminate the web spinning locations for these spiders.
- Don’t forget to make sure that your compost bin is well maintained and clean up or relocate any rock or wood piles so that spiders will be deterred from making their webs on these items too.
- Break up spider webs. Since many spiders use their web for food and as a resting place, destroying their webs will encourage them to go elsewhere. Depending on the location of the web, consider brushing the web(s) away with a broom when you see them to force spiders to relocate.
- Use insecticide sprays. There are many insecticidal sprays that can be used to treat spider infestations, like TERRO Spider Spray.
Whenever you do use these sprays, be sure to read the labels carefully and always protect yourself by wearing protective clothing.
- Call your local pest expert. When in doubt, or if the thought of handling a spider makes your skin crawl, reach out to your local pest professional for assistance in removing spiders from your yard this winter season.
These experts will be able to identify the type of spider and work with you to find the best most effective treatment option.
Personally, I like to let spiders live in my house if they’re harmless unless I get some sort of remediation from a pest control company. Mainly, if you have spiders it means you have other bugs as well as they’re eating SOMETHING.
If you naturally want to repel spiders outdoors, take a look at our list of the best outdoor spider sprays!
Indoor Spiders And The Spaces They Love During Winter
Some spiders don’t have the ability to build up antifreeze in their system. These are the spiders that will find their way into your home!
Spiders Go In Basements
Due to the fact that they are underground, spiders often have easy access to basements. In fact, it’s common to find them here year-round. Basements and spiders go together like peanut butter and jelly!
If you have a finished basement with carpet, vacuum frequently if you want to keep spiders away. If you have unfinished floors or a finished hard surface, sweeping will keep you clear of cobwebs.
From the basement, spiders can make their way inside your walls to the rest of your house (but this really isn’t a large problem.)
Spiders Live In Your Garage During Winter
Although your garage is sealed off enough from the outside to keep your car safe from the elements, it’s a piece of cake for spiders to enter.
Before the cold sets in, clean out your garage and remove any clutter that spiders could use as a home. As a bonus, you’ll have a clean garage!
Spiders Hunker Down In Bathrooms
There’s nothing more terrifying than a spider appearing in the bathroom right as you’re about to shower. (Okay, there’s actually a whole list of scarier things that can happen in your life. But you will definitely feel more awake after seeing an eight-legged friend in your tub!)
Make sure that any entryways to the outdoors are properly sealed. Make sure the cabinets close completely. Frequently sweep and vacuum in order to keep your bathroom spider-free!
Here’s some more info on keeping spiders out of your bathroom if you’d like to go that route!
Look Out For Spiders In Your Cabinets
Bathroom cabinets aren’t the only place where spiders can hide. Lesser used cabinets in your kitchen, pantry, and laundry room may have some web-slinging visitors over the winter.
Ensuring that a cabinet can properly close is key to keeping spiders out. Repair broken hinges and latches before the temperatures drop.
Watch For Spiders In Your Window and Door Entryways
Because windows and doors are designed to allow people (and pets) to come and go, it only makes sense that pests will take advantage of it, too!
Even though crisp fall temperatures feel heavenly after the scorching days of summer, resist the urge to open those windows unless you have a securely fitting screen in place. Similarly, keep the door shut unless you are currently walking in or out of the house.
Whether these spiders have been in your home all year long or have migrated inside due the falling temperatures, household spiders aren’t at all uncommon.
If you’re still unsure of what’s drawing spiders to your home, check out these things that bring spiders inside your home (and how to fix it)!
Most Common Spiders To Find Indoors During Winter
Here are some common indoor spiders that you might be run into in your home this winter season.
American House Spider
I know what you’re thinking: Could there be a more generic name for a spider?
American House Spiders can be identified by their bulb-like figure and usually have black and white spots or lines along their bodies.
These spiders are common not only in the US but are a common household spider across the globe.
American House Spiders are commonly found in dark places that provide plenty of cover options, so your basement, garage, and even your shed or storage bins are all possible locations for this spider to make their home during the winter months.
Daddy Long Legs
One of the more common spiders to our readers, Daddy Long Legs can be identified by their legs which are usually about five times the length of their body.
Daddy Long Legs love to make their home where it’s dark and damp so your bathroom, basement, and maybe even some of your cabinets are all common areas that you might find these spiders during the winter months.
Since these spiders are attracted to moisture, if you can reduce any unnecessary moisture inside (or outside) of your home, you probably won’t see too much Daddy Long Leg activity.
These spiders are also attracted to wood and other debris, so be sure to pick up any small trash pieces and keep an eye out on any wood that you may have inside for your fireplace that could help attract these spiders.
These spiders will go to great lengths to avoid human contact, so if you do come across a Recluse in your home, it’s likely to be in a dry, secluded area.
You can identify a Brown Recluse by their brown coloring and the distinctive violin-like image on their bodies.
While these spiders will only bite when it’s necessary, they are a venomous spider, so it’s best to call in your local pest professional to remove these spiders from your home if they’re spotted.
Brown recluse are not the only spiders that avoid humans. Check out these reasons why spiders in general are not really attracted to humans.
If you spot this spider in your home, it’s likely to be one of the biggest spiders you will ever see in your home, if not the biggest.
Usually brown in coloring, the eyes of a Wolf Spider are the best way to identify this spider. These spiders have a bottom row of four small eyes, two larger eyes above these four, and two larger eyes on the top of its head – that’s three rows of eyes looking back at you!
These spiders are most commonly found near your doors and windows, so sometimes it’s easy to shoo them outside if they’re spotted. The best way to keep these spiders out though is to ensure that any cracks or openings in your windows and doors are sealed or properly repaired if they have been cracked.
If you do spot this spider in your home, glue traps might be an effective way to capture and remove them from your home.
A quick fun fact, wolf spiders are one of the most common jumping spiders!
Where To Find Spiders Inside During Winter
Spiders will come inside for a number of reasons. Whether it’s the weather itself, the availability of food, or to mate, these could all be attractive reasons for spiders to come inside your home this winter season. And since the spiders are inside our home, some of us are looking to get them out quickly.
During the winter months, indoor spiders will make their homes in your basement, garage, bathrooms, cabinets, and in the corners of your windows and doorways.
Below we’ll go in-depth on ways to get rid of and limit indoor spiders, but feel free to check out our guide on scents spiders hate for some further in-depth info!
Getting Rid Of Winter Indoor Spiders
If you’re someone who isn’t a fan of spiders, you just want to get them out of your house even if they’re not interfering with your everyday life. Something with that many legs and eyes clearly must be up to something, right?
Here are a few ways that you can get rid of spiders that have found their way inside your house this winter.
- Keep your home tidy. While keeping your home tidy won’t get rid of any spiders in your home, it will certainly help homeowners notice any indoor spider activity.
Keeping garages and basements well swept and organized will allow for easy spotting of spiders that may have made their way indoors by sneaking through cracks or other openings.
- Seal any cracks or large openings in your foundation. If you have window wells or windows in your basement, we recommend checking that these are properly sealed as well.
Many spiders can fit between small cracks or openings in your foundation, windows, and siding and gain entry to your home.
Before the cold officially sets in, consider performing an inspection of your home to ensure that entryways are properly closing and that any large gaps to cracks can be repaired before spiders make their way inside.
- Set spider traps. We already mentioned that using glue traps may be effective in catching spiders in your home.
Consider using a product like Catchmaster Spider Glue Traps if you’re comfortable with catching spiders inside of your home, and then you can properly dispose of them.
- Call your local pest expert. If you’re like me, you might be able to squish smaller spiders, but if a spider comes in that’s any larger than the size of a penny, then we have a problem.
If you’re not a fan of spiders or if you notice that you seem to have more spider activity in your home this winter than in years past, reach out to your local pest professional for assistance.
These trained professionals are ready and willing to help you get rid of spiders in your home so that you can curl up in your blanket on the couch without worrying one of these eight legged arachnids will be scurrying across your floor.
Remember that although they may be annoying, there’s really no need to fear spiders touching you or crawling on you at night.
Putting It All Together!
No matter the type of spider you’ve spotted, and whether it’s inside or outside of your home, spiders can multiply quickly and can take over your home or outdoor area. And while spiders do help catch and reduce the number of certain other insect pests that we may encounter, we probably don’t want to share our inside space with them during winter months.
While you’re prepping your home for the winter season, consider making an extra sweep of the following areas both indoors and outdoors to determine if you have an excess of spider activity.
Outside your home check for spiders in:
- Rock piles
- Leave piles and taller grasses
- Wood piles and trees
Inside your home check for spiders in your:
- Window and door entryways
While many spiders are harmless and many more don’t even survive the winter months, having some basic knowledge of common spiders, their hiding spots, and treatment options may give you some peace of mind this winter season when you might spot these spiders in your home.
Aitchison, C. W. (1984). Low temperature feeding by winter-active spiders. Journal of Arachnology, 297-305.
Coddington, J. A. (2005). Phylogeny and classification of spiders. Spiders of North America: an identification manual.
Duman, J. G., Bennett, V., Sformo, T., Hochstrasser, R., & Barnes, B. M. (2004). Antifreeze proteins in Alaskan insects and spiders. Journal of insect physiology, 50(4), 259-266.
Edgar, W. D. (1971). The life-cycle, abundance and seasonal movement of the wolf spider, Lycosa (Pardosa) lugubris, in central Scotland. The Journal of Animal Ecology, 303-322.
Schaefer, M. (1987). Life cycles and diapause. In Ecophysiology of spiders (pp. 331-347). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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