Herpyllus ecclesiasticus
(Eastern Parson Spider)

Taxonomic Hierarchy

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Suborder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Gnaphosidae
  • Genus: Herpyllus
  • Species: Herpyllus ecclesiasticus

Common Name (AASMore information icon)

Parson Spider

Other Common Names

Eastern Parson Spider (because there is a different, but nearly identical, species in the west), Ground Spider, Stealthy Ground Spider

Author

Nicholas Marcellus Hentz, 1832

Pronunciation

her-PILL-uhs eh-klee-zee-ASS-tick-uhs

Identification Traits

Disclaimer: The following table provides a quick overview of the spider's basic attributes. The physical traits are greatly generalized in order to aid in the identification and sorting of spider species using our search feature. This information is not exhaustive, and keep in mind that traits such as color, markings, and overall size and shape can vary widely within a species due to variables such as the spider's age, gender, diet, hydration level, climate, and habitat. Though experienced arachnologists and hobbyists can often classify spiders rather accurately based on their unique markings and general appearance, it's important to know that scientifically accurate spider identification relies on detailed taxonomic keys and microscopic examinations of a spider's reproductive organs.

Female iconFemale Male iconMale
Body size More information icon 6.5mm - 13mm 4.5mm - 6.5mm
Eye count 8
Primary Colors
Identifying Traits Fuzzy or hairy appearance, Unique pattern, Visible spines on legs, Legs solid color, Short legs, Long spinnerets
Web style Retreat or silken sac


Additional Remarks

  • The flat, disc-shaped egg case is deposited in a silken retreat where the female guards it, usually under tree bark. One recorded egg sac in Connecticut was 17 millimeters in diameter and held 130 spiderlings (Kaston 1948).
  • West of the Continental Divide, there is a nearly identical species named Herpyllus propinquus (the “Western Parson Spider”). The two species can’t be separated from one another using only outward appearances, they look too much alike, so the details of the genitalia must be examined under a microscope.
  • Spider is very fast and difficult to catch, let alone photograph.
  • Though members of the entire family Gnaphosidae are collectively nicknamed “ground spiders,” that is not always where they’re found, especially fairly synanthropic species like this one.

Featured Pictures

Picture of Herpyllus ecclesiasticus (Eastern Parson Spider) - Lateral Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Herpyllus ecclesiasticus (Eastern Parson Spider) - Dorsal Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Herpyllus ecclesiasticus (Eastern Parson Spider) Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Herpyllus ecclesiasticus (Eastern Parson Spider) - Dorsal Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Herpyllus ecclesiasticus (Eastern Parson Spider) - Dorsal Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Herpyllus ecclesiasticus (Eastern Parson Spider) - Dorsal Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Herpyllus ecclesiasticus (Eastern Parson Spider) - Female - Dorsal Enlarge picture icon
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Picture of Herpyllus ecclesiasticus (Eastern Parson Spider) - Female - Dorsal Enlarge picture icon
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