Huntsman Spider (Giant Crab Spider)

Huntsman Spider (Giant Crab Spider)

Quick Overview

Size: 1-5”

Characteristics 

Known by many different names (including the crab spider and banana spider), the huntsman spider has super long legs that add a great deal to its overall size. Although its body is not that large, the legs of the huntsman spider can easily span up to five inches.

Habitat 

Huntsman spiders can be found all over the world and have most recently been sighted in Florida as well as in Hawaii, California, and Texas. They prefer small, warm areas that are dark and compact. 

Behavior 

Huntsman spiders usually hide in cracks, shrubs, and trees but will also enter homes and cars. They move around quickly and cling to surfaces to avoid being brushed away. 

What does a huntsman spider look like?

Huntsman spiders are large, brown arachnids with flattened bodies and minimal dorsal patterns. Adult females are much larger than males but only in terms of their body size. As far as leg size goes, males take the lead. Both sexes are brown with dark markings. 

Each leg has distinct black spots. These are not hairy spiders but instead completely smooth. 

What is the habitat of a huntsman spider in Florida?

In Florida, huntsman spiders are most often found in barns, sheds, houses, beneath boards, and in other sheltered areas. They are cold-sensitive and cannot live outside in places that have freezing winter temperatures. 

Because Florida has mild temperatures and frost is rare (especially in southern Florida), huntsman spiders are now frequently found in the wild, particularly in avocado groves. 

What are the behaviors of a huntsman spider?

Huntsman spiders lay flat, disc-like egg sacs, each of which contains more than 200 eggs. The females carry their egg sacs beneath the body. Huntsman spiders are known for their flattened bodies that make it easy for their large bodies to fit into surprisingly narrow crevices. 

These spiders feed on a variety of insect pests, including cockroaches. Unlike other types of spiders, they do not use webs to capture their prey. Instead, they use their strong jaws to capture and eat insects. They also inject venom into the pretty from their large, long gland system.

Female huntsman spiders release a pheromone at the time of mating. Male huntsman spiders have the ability to release a vibration-like sound to encourage females to mate. Huntsman spiders run quickly and can even run sideways!

How dangerous is a huntsman spider?

Huntsman spiders are frequently found indoors, particularly because they are drawn to the heat and shelter that indoor structures provide. You might find one of these spiders in a cabinet, beneath furniture, or even behind a wall hanging. Closets and garages are common dwelling places for these spiders, too.

Fortunately, despite their prevalence, these spiders are not hugely dangerous. They are not aggressive and only bite when threatened or stepped on. The bite is not toxic but can be painful. It often causes noticeable swelling where it occurs. 

What should I do if I’m bitten by a huntsman spider?

If you discover that you have been bitten by a huntsman spider, don’t panic. These bites aren’t usually toxic. However, they can be painful. Try to elevate the bitten area to reduce pain and swelling. Use an ice-pack wrapped around the cloth and seek medical attention if there are more severe reactions. 

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Animalia

Subkingdom: Bilateria

Infrakingdom: Protostomia 

Superphylum: Ecdysozoa

Phylum: Arthropoda

Subphylum: Chelicerata

Class: Arachnida 

Order:  Araneae

Family: Sparassidae

Genus & species: Heteropoda venatoria

Huntsman Spider Facts and Myths

1. Myth: Huntsman Spiders Can Be More than Six Inches Long

While it’s true that there are some huntsman spiders that are quite large – more than six inches – these are typically the species that are found in Australia, not in Florida.

2. Fact: Huntsman Spiders Run Quickly

Huntsman spiders may not be giving cheetahs a run for their money any time soon, but they’re still quite fast. They can run at more than 31 body lengths per second. Compare this to Usain Bolt, the record-holding human, who can run at only 5.2 body lengths per second – what a slacker! 

3. Fact: Huntsman Spiders Don’t Use Webs

There are a few species of spiders that don’t use webs to catch their prey, and the huntsman is one of them. Instead, it uses a combination of keen vision and calculated vibrations to locate its prey. 

4. Fact: Male Huntsman Spiders Look For Young Females

The goal of a male huntsman spider is to mate with a virgin female. To accomplish this, it will often seek out an immature female and hang around her for a long period – until she’s ready to mate.

5. Fact: Huntsman Spiders Live Beneath the Bark on Trees

Although huntsman spiders do often come indoors, it’s not uncommon to peel back a layer of bark on a tree and find a whole family of huntsman spiders beneath, either. That’s quite the sight to behold!

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