Spiders in the Tegenaria genus can have a leg-span of over 10 cm, and it is the males which have the really long legs. The Tegenaria sp. are the big hairy spiders we commonly find wandering
round out houses in autumn. They are also one of the most common spiders to be found in the bath. Although we usually find males (see the photographs below) as the females
tend to stay on their webs.
The males look very similar to the females except
they are a few mm smaller in the body, have a thinner abdomen, longer legs and usually have
swollen palps (see the photographs below) as they are in search of a mate.
Below left you can just make
out the sclerotised entrance to the female's epigyne, this is the opening into which the
male must place one of his sperm-charged palps.
After a successful mating the
males will usually live beside the females for a while, but die before winter. This provides the female with a substantial meal to see her through cold
Tegenaria can live for several years especially if they are in a
sheltered location such as a house or closed metal shed. The webs can be pretty
untidy, and often have a tubular retreat. On the left the female is on her web,
note the long palps, these are always in contact with the web to detect any
vibration indicating the presence of a possible snack.
Tegenaria egg sacs
Tegenaria females keep their egg sacs in the web covered with bits of debris and another layer of silk. The spiderlings normally
disperse without eating their mother.
In 1760 when malaria, also known as ague, was common in Britain a Dr. Watson recommended a Tegenaria sp. "gently bruised and wrapped up in a raisin or spread upon bread and butter" as a cure !
In France Tegenaria sp. are released into wine cellars as the presence of their webs is though to create feeling of age.