Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Spider Identification



This Spider lives in our front yard.  I walked into its web by accident the other day.  Can you tell me what you think it is and if it is venomous please.  I live in Thousand Oaks, CA in the foothills south of the 101 Freeway.

Hi Joel,

Thanks for the question and for providing the photographs. From the photos, it looks like a brown widow spider. These have become more common in southern California. You can be sure it is a brown widow if there is an orange hour glass on its underside and if you see egg sacs with spines on them (see: http://pulpbits.net/9-brown-spider-egg-photos/brown-widow-with-egg-sac/). The photo you provided of the underside of the spider is a bit blurry so I can't see the hourglass, but I am fairly certain it is a brown widow. Let me know if there is no hourglass.

Brown widow spiders are related to black widows. Their venom is more potent, but they don't use as much venom per bite as black widows. I encourage you to not handle the spider, although black and brown widow spider bites are not as dangerous as many people think. Still, I would avoid handling the spider. If you leave it alone, it will not bite you. They are not aggressive.

I hope this helps!


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jessica Mellinger


I can answer questions about invertebrates native to California, including insects commonly found in homes. If you have an identification request, please attach a photo to your question.


I was involved in collection and identification of invertebrates for the United States Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division for six years. Also, I provided these same services intermittently for the UC Davis John Muir Institute of the Environment for many years. I have been a member of AllExperts.com since 2009.

Department of the Interior: United States Geological Survey, Davis Field Station; University of California, Davis Aggie Alumni Association; UC Davis Center for Neuroscience; U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs

I have two B.A.'s from the University of California, Davis and two Associate's degrees from Sacramento City College.

Awards and Honors
Special Thanks for Achieving Results award from the Department of the Interior

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