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Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia

versão On-line ISSN 0718-686X

Anales Instituto Patagonia (Chile) vol.47 no.3 Punta Arenas dez. 2019 


Contribution to the knowledge of Tegenaria domestica (Clerck, 1757) (Araneae: Agelenidae) in Southern Patagonia

Contribución al conocimiento de Tegenaria domestica (Clerck, 1757) (Araneae: Agelenidae) en la Patagonia Austral

Eduardo I. Faúndez1 

Mariom A. Carvajal1 

Natalia Asplanato2 

Flavia Raffo3 

Catalina J. Vargas1 

1 Laboratorio de Entomología, Instituto de la Patagonia, Universidad de Magallanes, Av. Bulnes 01890, Punta Arenas, Chile. E-mail:

2 Centro Austral de Investigaciones Científicas (CADIC-CONICET), Bernardo Houssay 200, Ushuaia, CP 9410, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.

3 Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, Av. del Libertador 1302, El Calafate, CP 9405, Santa Cruz, Argentina.


The presence of the spider Tegenaria domestica in southern Patagonia is revised and analyzed. New records are provided from Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego Province Argentina, and its presence is confirmed in Magallanes Region, Chile. The significance of the historical records and the new ones is discussed. Illustrations are provided to correctly identify the species.

Keywords: Arachnida; synanthropic; South America


Se revisa y analiza la presencia de la araña Tegenaria domestica en la Patagonia austral. Se entregan nuevos registros para las provincias de Santa Cruz y Tierra del Fuego en Argentina y se confirma su presencia en la región de Magallanes en Chile. Se discute la significancia de los registros históricos y los nuevos aquí entregados. Se proveen ilustraciones para identificar correctamente esta especie.

Palabras clave: Arachnida; sinantrópica; Sudamérica


Tegenaria Latreille, 1804 is a genus of spiders that currently contains 112 valid species (World Spider Catalog, 2019). Members of this genus are usually referred as funnel web spiders or grass spiders, and these usually inhabits in grasslands and open areas (Levi et al. 1968). Tegenaria species are usually very fast predators that rely more on its speed rather than their webs to catch preys. Several species on this genus are also considered synanthropic as they inhabit human habitations (World Spider Catalog, 2019).

Tegenaria domestica (Clerck, 1757) (Figure 1), commonly called domestic spider because of its synanthropic habits, is a large member of this genus ranging from 7 to 13 mm the adult females and 6 to 10 mm the males (Roth, 1968). It is characterized by a light brownish cephalotorax and a brown abdomen with irregular darkened patches. This species is naturally distributed from Europe to China, Japan, and it was introduced to Australia, New Zealand, and the Americas (World Spider Catalog, 2019). Although T domestica has a wide distributional range in South America, the available information from Southern Patagonia is scarce and confuse, mainly because the cites give little information. The purpose of this contribution is to review the presence of this species in Southern Patagonia, as well as provide new records to establish its current distributional range.

Figure 1 Tegenaria domestica. a. Specimen from El Calafate, habitus; b. Specimen from Ushuaia, habitus; c. Female from Punta Arenas, outside its funnel; d. Female epigynum; e. Male pedipalp, ventral view; f. Male pedipalp, lateral view. 

Materials and methods

A compilation of records has been made in literature and local collections (Instituto de la Patagonia, Universidad de Magallanes, Punta Arenas; Museo Maggiorino Borgatello, Punta Arenas), and new records have been obtained by prospections of the authors, plus records from the citizen science platform “Insectos y Arácnidos de importancia médica y sanitaria en Patagonia”. For specimen identification we follow Roth (1968) and for systematics to WSC (2019). Photos of genitalia were taken with a digital camera adapted to a stereoscopic microscope.


Historical distribution of Tegenaria domestica in Southern Patagonia

The presence of this species in the Southern part of Patagonia has been first recorded by Simon (1904), from Punta Arenas. However, after this contribution there is a long silence in both literature and museums. Even, Cekalovic (1976) did not include this species in his catalog of Magallanes spiders. Only more recently, Carvajal & Faúndez (2017) mentioned that it is common in houses of Punta Arenas and that it can be confused with the Chilean recluse Loxosceles laeta (Nicolet, 1849). On the other hand, there are no records of this species in the Argentinean southern provinces, and only Ramírez et al. (2004) recorded it in northern Patagonia, including the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro and Chubut.

Current distribution

In current days, this spider has become one of the most common arthropods in homes of Southern Patagonia, according records in the collection of the Instituto de la Patagonia, and surveying of the authors. Since 2005 it has been frequently observed in Punta Arenas and more recently we have confirmed its presence in the Argentinean provinces of Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego, and its further in Magallanes as is detailed below:

Material examined: ARGENTINA. Santa Cruz Province: Puerto Deseado, 7-II-2017, 1♀ I. Gabucci leg. El Calafate, 2-II-2017, 2♀, F. Raffo leg.; Río Gallegos, 23-II-2017, 2♀, J. Vivallo leg.; Río Gallegos, 3-IV-2018, 1♂, A. Muñoz leg. Tierra del Fuego Province: Ushuaia, 25-IX-2018, 1♂, J. Ameglio leg.; Ushuaia, IX-2018, 2♀, N. Asplanato leg.; Ushuaia, 19-X-2018, 1♂, N. Asplanato leg. CHILE: Punta Arenas, I-2005, 10♀9♂, E. Faúndez leg.; Puerto Natales, XII-2017, 3♂4♀; Puerto Natales, I/III-2018, 4♀. Puerto Williams, XII-2017, 2♀1♂, J. González leg.

Discussion and conclusion

The current presence of T. domestica in Punta Arenas is interesting, because it was recorded in the early 1900's (Simon, 1904) and then seem to have disappeared from the area. It is good to mention that local museum or collection did not register any specimen until the present days. Also, the authors did not found any specimen before 2002. Moreover, its absence in Cekalovic (1976) catalog seems to confirm its disappearance from the area, since Cekalovic was a remarkable collector who hardly surveyed the area. A similar case has been observed with the butterfly Vannessa carye (Hübner, 1812) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae), which disappeared from Punta Arenas for 40 years and got back in 2005, presumably by temperature fluctuations (Pérez et al. 2005). Although T. domestica is not a flying arthropod as V. carye, it can travel with humans, which may explain the two separate arrivals.

For the rest of Southern Patagonia, we provide the first records for Santa Cruz (El Calafate, Puerto Deseado, Río Gallegos) and Tierra del Fuego (Ushuaia) provinces in Argentina and for Puerto Natales and Puerto Williams cities in Chile (Figure 2). Ushuaia and Puerto Williams become the southernmost known localities for this species in each country, and the records of Puerto Natales and Santa Cruz province fills the distributional gap with the rest of Patagonia. The only area of Patagonia that remains without records of this species is the Aysén Region in Chile, in which this species may have already reach, but has not been yet collected.

Figure 2 Distribution of Tegenaria domestica in Southern Patagonia. 

The recent records and expansion of this species in Southern Patagonia, may be part of a series of synanthropic spider arrivals to the area, which have been associated with current global change (Faúndez, 2007; Carvajal & Faúndez, 2017; Faúndez et al. 2017).

The presence of this species in the area does not represent a health or sanitary problem. Although the bite of another agelenids like Eratigena agrestis (Walckenaer, 1802) has been considered medically important for decades, recent studies have concluded that these are not dangerous and there have been a lot of misidentifications and misdiagnoses on the alleged necrotic cases. In the case of T domestica, its bite may generate local pain lasting for a few hours and a very tiny erithema, which does not require medical attention unless of an allergic reaction (Gaver-Wainwright et al. 2011; E. Faúndez, pers. obs. ). However, because of its coloration and general body shape, plus myths regarding the speed of the spider it has been widely confused the Chilean recluse L. laeta, a dangerous species recently arrived to the zone (Carvajal & Faúndez, 2017). However, both species can be easily told apart by the number of eyes (six in L. laeta and eight in T. domestica). In the examined material a wide range of chromatic variation was observed, especially in the abdominal pattern (Figs., a, b, c); therefore, examination of male pedipalp and female epigynum (Figs., d. e, f) may be useful to fully confirm the identification; and thus avoid any confusion with other spiders in the area. Finally, up to this point, all the specimens have been collected in human habitations, and there are no records of this species outside of synanthropic environments.


We thank all the collectors and people who helped us to obtain records of this species. Also we are grateful for the comments and suggestions of two anonymous reviewers.

Literature cited:

Carvajal, M. A., & Faúndez, E. I. (2017). Sobre la presencia de la araña de rincón Loxosceles laeta (Nicolet, 1849) (Araneae: Sicariidae) en Magallanes (Chile). Arquivos Entomolóxicos, 18, 355-359. [ Links ]

Cekalovic, K. (1976). Catálogo de los Arachnida: Scorpiones, Pseudoscorpiones, Opiliones, Acari, Araneae y Solifugae de la XII Región de Chile, Magallanes incluyendo la Antártica chilena (Chile). Gayana, 37, 1-108. [ Links ]

Faúndez, E. I. (2007). Datos sobre las especies del género Steatoda Sundevall, 1833 (Arachnida: Theridiidae) de la región de Magallanes (Chile). Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia, 35(1), 79-80. [ Links ]

Faúndez, E. I., Téllez, F., Raffo, F., & Aguilar, R. (2017). Sobre la presencia de Steatoda grossa (C. L. Koch, 1838) (Araneae: Theridiidae) en la Provincia de Santa Cruz (Argentina), con comentarios acerca de su reciente expansión en Patagonia Austral. Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia, 45(1), 53-57. [ Links ]

Gaver-Wainwright, M. M., Zack, R. S., Foradori, M. J., & Lavine, L. C. (2011). Misdiagnosis of spider bites: bacterial associates, mechanical pathogen transfer, and hemolytic potential of venom from the hobo spider, Tegenaria agrestis (Araneae: Agelenidae). Journal of Medical Entomology, 48(2), 382-388. [ Links ]

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Pérez, V., Faúndez, E., Vargas, D., Zúñiga, A., & Butorovic, N. (2005). El regreso de la mariposa colorada Cynthia carye (Hübner, 1812) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) a Punta Arenas, Región de Magallanes. Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia, 33, 37-40. [ Links ]

Ramírez, M. J., Grismado, C., & Blick, T. (2004). Notes on the spider family Agelenidae in southern South America (Arachnida: Araneae). Revista Ibérica de Aracnología, 9, 179-182. [ Links ]

Roth, V. D. (1968). The spider genus Tegenaria in the Western Hemisphere (Agelenidae). American Museum Novitates, 2323, 1-33. [ Links ]

Simon, E. (1904). Etude sur les arachnides du Chili recueillis en 1900, 1901 et 1902, par MM. C. Porter, Dr Delfin, Barcey Wilson et Edwards. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural, 8(1-2), 45-77. [ Links ]

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Received: October 16, 2018; Accepted: October 31, 2019

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