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Huntsman Spider


Summary: Huntsman spiders are known for their long, thin legs. Their bodies are flattened. This is an adaptation that helps them squeeze into tight cracks and crevices. They have been known to lurk out in cars, especially under sun visors. You have been warned.

Did you know that there are 94 species of huntsman spiders? They include banded, common, brown/tropical, shield/badge, and flat huntsman spiders. Huntsman spiders can be found in Texas, Florida, California, and Australia.
Huntsman spiders are known for their long, thin legs. They have many hairs protruding off of their lanky stems. The legs of the huntsman spider can measure between three to five inches, while the rest of its body is only about an inch long. Their bodies are flattened; this is an adaptation that helps them squeeze into tight cracks and crevices. In fact, huntsman spiders are sometimes called giant crab spiders because of their physical similarities. These spiders are typically beige to brown in coloration.

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Huntsman spiders can be found in a number of places. They like to hide out under bark, leaves, or fences and may also be found in cracks or crevices of walls or ceilings. Some people have even seen huntsman spiders lurking around inside their cars, especially underneath visors.

Huntsman spiders don’t make webs like the typical spiders most people think of. Instead, they stalk their prey. They may look for food on trees or on the ground. The spiders may even wait in one spot for several hours in anticipation of prey.

The foods of choice for huntsman spiders are other spiders, insects, and occasionally small lizards, snakes, and rodents. So, if you see one of these eight-legged creatures hanging out in your garden, it may be getting rid of other bugs that could cause damage to your azaleas.

Female huntsman spiders have a unique way of rearing their young. They lay a couple hundred eggs and place them in egg sacs. The eggs are oval-shaped and flat as pancakes, just like their parents. The mother spiders carry the egg sacs under their bellies before setting them down on leaves. They stand guard over the eggs for up to three weeks as they allow their young to grow. During this time, the females don’t eat and may be very hostile towards humans or predators, much like me if I don’t get lunch exactly at noon every day.

When the eggs develop into young spiders, they look like miniature versions of the adults. As they grow, they go through several molts. Some people may mistake the spiders’ skin for actual spiders.

Recently, there was a strange case about a spider wandering around a Whole Foods store in Oklahoma. One of the workers panicked, thinking it was a Brazilian wandering spider. Considering that this species is one of the most deadly spiders around, I can see why the worker freaked out. As it turns out, the spider was just a huntsman spider. No harm, no foul.

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Huntsman spiders do not pose much of a threat to humans as they do not give off poisonous venom. This is ironic considering their name is broken down into “hunts man”. They may give off a painful bite, though. Females are especially aggressive when they are guarding their eggs. If you get bitten by a huntsman spider, your skin will probably swell. Make sure to put ice on the bite. If the swelling worsens, go to a hospital immediately as you may be allergic to huntsman spiders. Other side effects of severe huntsman spider bites include headache, lingering pain, irregular pulse rate, and vomiting.

Unfortunately, because the huntsman spider is flat and can crawl into most any small space, it is almost impossible to keep them permanently out of your house. Here are some tips to help you deal with this arachnid if it invades your space:

  • Get the spider out of your house as soon as you can. If it is a female carrying around an egg sac, the last thing you want is 200 baby huntsman spiders crawling around your home.
  • When gardening, wear socks and tennis shoes, long pants, and gardening gloves. This will help protect you from getting bitten by spiders hiding out in your garden.
  • Wear shoes when you are outside, particularly in the evening. Huntsman spiders are mostly active at night.
  • Replace any screens on your doors or windows if they are ripped or torn. This will prevent spiders and other bugs from getting inside your house.
  • Move firewood, leaves, garbage, and any type of debris away from the foundation of your home. This will deter a multitude of species of insects from sneaking indoors.
  • You might consider placing weather strips underneath your doors to prevent spiders from crawling inside.
  • Caulk any cracks you may have in the foundation your home or indoors. This may help eliminate some of the huntsman spider’s favorite hiding spots.

Note that insecticides, spray treatments, foggers rarely work in getting rid of huntsman spiders.

photo credit: <a href="Bill'>http://www.flickr.com/photos/48991563@N06/5067048101/">Bill & Mark Bell</a> via <a href="photopinhttp://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="cchttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="PacificKlaushttp://www.flickr.com/photos/pacificklaus/7170361750/">PacificKlaus</a> via <a href="photopinhttp://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="cchttp://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>





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Comments

liz
08 Jun 2012, 22:25
Hi I live in Florida and my first encounter with a brown huntsman was when I was getting ready for a yard sale. I had a cabbage patch doll and when I turned it over the huntsman was the entire size of the torso of the doll. I screamed my head off and needless to say my daughter after seeing it did too. We called the zoo and found out from the herpitarium that they live for up to 10 years!!! Ugh! Now we can't do laundry at night (our washer/dryer are in the carport which is not enclosed). They come out at night and give us such a scare. Is there any way to get rid of them? I've killed probably 4 or 5 of them in my house but I don't know what keeps bringing them back to our house both indoors and out.
Ask the Exterminator
10 Jun 2012, 16:46
Follow the suggestions in the article.
Sabine
23 Jun 2012, 01:01
I live in southern Florida in an older property and am covered by five oak trees. Every time it rains, I find huntsman spiders inside. It's like clockwork; naturally, then, summers are the worst. When I first moved in, four years ago, I thought they were wolf spiders; thankfully a spider enthusiast friend identified them as huntsman spiders and explained that they're relatively harmless despite their terrifying size/speed.

I've found that if I keep the air down very low, there are less of them inside. I had my first encounter with a mother carrying its egg sack earlier this evening. As I chased it outside, the sack started splitting. Oh lord, it was awful. Thankfully, bleach took care of the escaped baby huntsmans.

I've also found that my dog is awesome at spider killing now. I knock the spider down with a broom, and she immediately pins it for a quick capture and/or death.
Crystal
10 Jul 2012, 03:09
I just moved in a older house in tampa its day two and came across 3 spiders on jumped out my laundry basket on me and i felt a sting this was during the day i found one in the closet.Then I was sitting in my living room and decided to go to the kitchen and as i walked in there was a spider the size of my hand it was like he saw me walk in and he jumped to the stove and slid in the crack I think its a huntsman because it was so fast but the other two were smaller I see cobb webbs in the house and behind the sink is a hole and leaking water.What can I do around the house besides whats suggested to keep them away from me and the kids i removed webbs the sink will take a little while i have a heart condition these scare me and if my heart goes to fast i can pass out.i hope you can suggest something to keep them away thank you.
Belinda
30 Oct 2012, 03:12
Ok so last night all of these little baby spiders dropped out of our air con system, and while my husband was spraying them the massive mother came out from a crack between the unit and the wall. My husband killed it while I hid in the other room. He spent the next hour vacuuming up all of the babies and dumped them in the bin. I sat up a d watched the air con unit all night, nothing else came out. My husband bought a insect spray things that you leaving on in a room to treat it and tape to block the gap. Do you thing anymore will come out tonight??
Cecily Trainor
01 Nov 2012, 02:29
I have just read through all these comments and to be honest I am dismayed that all of you just want to Kill these spiders. Huntsmans are harmless. I am from australia and have grown up with Huntsman Spiders. My Dad used to just pick them up in a Hankerchief and take them outside, I prefer the cup method. To be honest the only reason I put them outside is we have had a few die i imagine due to starvation. I have been watching a mum that had a big behind and which has since reduced as she now has the egg sack in her arms/legs and i think it is unreal that she has been holding this sac for about two weeks so that the babies aren't harmed. She is outside but still i would never dream of killing her. You all need to get over your stupid spider phobias and leave them alone :-D
katherine
05 Nov 2012, 06:43
@ Cecily its funny how you claim to leave spiders alone but when you know of a person that has being bitten by a white tail and has had there arm amputaded from the bite you can get stuffed. People go ahead and kill the damn ugly things, they bite, some are poisoness and they should be exterminated!
smiley
18 Jan 2013, 13:53
katherine: it's possible to disagree with someone and still be polite about it.

The person who had their arm amputated was probably told that it was a white tail bite, and it almost certainly wasn't:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-tailed_spider#cite_note-Isbister-2

A 1982 paper said that white tails or wolf spiders were suspected of causing necrotic ulcers; a 2003 study found that in 130 cases of confirmed white tail bite, none of them resulted in necrosis.

There are spiders which do cause the symptoms you are referring to, but they are not white tails. Nor are they huntsmans.

In fact, huntsmans kill other spiders, some of which may actually be dangerous. Leave them alone, and they will clean up pests which might actually be a problem.

Have a look at the Australian Museum page about spiders:

http://australianmuseum.net.au/Spider-facts
Cecily
20 Jan 2013, 23:59
Dear Smiley,
I appreciate your comments!
And Katherine please note Smiley's comments regarding your Friends loss of Arm it wasn't necessarily a White Tail Spider. My mother was bitten by a white Tail (and actually saw the Spider) and although it was painful she had no issues..(I also put these outside too :-d) Whilst I am sad for your friends Loss it doesn't mean that the poor Huntsman Spider is in the same category and it is HARMLESS.
SAVE THE HUNTSMAN!! I suppose you also think when people get killed by Sharks that the so called Shark should be hunted down and Killed, regardless of whether we are swimming in their Loungeroom. Humans are the reason that all our beautiful Animals (including Predators-Spiders/Snakes etc) are going extinct and we ALL need to take a real hard look at ourselves! it's a disgrace! And WE DO need to HARDEN Up!
Selena
12 Feb 2013, 21:56
Cecily, you are a star! I totally agree with you. :D I am an Australian moving to Florida in 2 weeks. I'm so glad to find out Huntsman spiders live in Florida too! I like seeing them around, they make me feel calm & its nice knowing they are naturally taking care of other bugs and pests without interferance by us humans. We had a female spider & her egg sack living on a ceiling in our house, it was facinating to watch her & her little family hatch & grow. Does anyone know if the mother dies after after leaving her babies? I'm plannin on writing a story about it and want to get all the facts right. Thanks. :)
Ebchlu
27 Mar 2013, 07:38
I'm sorry Cecily, I am from Australia too but I completely disagree, I am petrified of spiders! My partner and I have discovered over the last few days that huntsman spiders are quite fond of our house but we are not fond of them. I need to kill them as soon as I see them, otherwise I will not sleep. We have a baby on the way so I really want our home to be spider free, it's awful thinking about those disgusting things crawling over my baby :(
Tom
17 Apr 2013, 11:18
I live in Florida as well. I know the huntsman spiders are beneficial critters, but they are SO fast-moving that the large ones terrify me. My wife and I once house-sat for a week in an old wood-frame house that was overrun with these guys. I killed every one that I could -- I knew it was wrong but I honestly didn't care. My anxiety level was jacked up so high it was ridiculous. Maybe I was a cockroach in a former life, ha ha.
Cecily
19 Apr 2013, 07:28
Hey Selena, No I don't believe the mother dies. I have a Hunstman in my outdoor area and she has made a number of efforts baby wise, First couple either she ate the babies or another predator did, but recently I was lucky enough to see 100 or so babies outside the sack for a week before they dispersed. Ebchlu, seriously Huntsman spiders are harmless. I understand your concern with a Baby but seriously that will be the least of your problems. I'd be more concerned with the lack of sleep/mastering breastfeeding than Spiders hurting your baby. How many stories are there on the news about Babies dying from Spider bites....? & Tom you being a Man you should be able to pick one up in a tissue or try a cup. My other half wouldn't dare killing a spider, he goes out to the Kitchen and gets a cup, look I understand they are a bit freaky, I shut my front door recently and a young huntsman must have snuck through and was near the handle when I shut it. I got a cup and got the little bugger in it but it crawled up on my arm - yes I jumped a little but managed to scoop it back up and out the door it went. I'd possibly think twice for a red-back in the house but even their bite doesn't kill you!
Mullet Head
29 Apr 2013, 19:13
Its summer time here in Florida and Ive had two encounters with the huntsman so far. The 1st encounter this year was when I arrived home late at night to take a shower. When I turned on the bathroom light BOOM! Huntsman on the shower door. This was the biggest one Ive ever seen, The size of my hand. All I could do was freeze with horror. I could only do what 1st came to mind, yell MOM! Even she was like Holy Sh!#! She got some roach spray stunned it. I told her to put it in the sink so i could get a closer look. And ironically i was relieved to see that it was a huntsman spider. Ive learned to find facts and info on things you fear and it paid off. So we picked it up in a paper towel and put it outside. 2nd encounter was today and this one was a lot smaller but still in the shower. Now im getting worried, even though i know they are harmless i just dont want one crawling on my face at night. My only advise is to get rid of roaches or anything that might bring these guys into your home. caulk any cracks in your windows and doors. For the ones you haven't found yet, lets hope you see them before they see you.
Danny
05 Jun 2013, 02:33
I saw 1 in my car last night I dont know what to do. It moved so fast when I opened the door to get it out I dont know if it is still in my car but I need to find a way to get them out
Ask the Exterminator
05 Jun 2013, 13:34
Hunting spiders will move about at night. Put out flat glue boards or insect monitors inside the car to capture roving spiders. Insect monitors are for sale on this website. Click on "Pest Control Products" at the top of this page.
Hap
03 Aug 2013, 01:24
Hi - I haven't needed to try this on Huntsman's spiders yet (and hope I never need to) ... but over the years, I discovered that ALL creatures will flee from the smell of smoke. How does this help you in getting a pest out of the house or car? What I've done is light a few sticks of incense, and then open a window near the creature. Then I place the incense in an appropriate location to encourage the pest to leave out the window. It usually works pretty quickly, although if the pest is confused by the light or etc. it may take it a little longer to figure out how to get out. Basically, your goal is to create a condition where the smoke is coming at the pest from one direction, and the pest can tell that and smell fresh air in the other direction. I've even used this to catch critters that one of my cats used to bring home, alive, and let go in the house. I'd set up a dark environment (like a vase or canister) at one end of the space where the critter was (usually under a bookcase or the bed), then barricade any other exit routes (usually with assorted books); and then light the incense at the opposite side. The critters would always run right into the dark container within a minute or so. Then you can just tip up the container so they can't get out, and release them somewhere safe outdoors. It worked for me every time.
Bill
21 Aug 2013, 11:38
How in the world do you catch something with a cup that moves at the speed of light. I live in the mountains above Palm Springs, CA. and this is my first encounter with a huntsman spider. Its running around my kitchen. I am completely amazed at the speed. I would like to put it outside if I can ever catch it. No way will I ever kill it. To me its fine but it freaks my wife out.
KILL THEM ALL!
04 Sep 2013, 11:17
Well, I too live in a rural area in central Florida and just built a new workshop on my property next to my horse barn, last year I sprayed a "spider eliminating" spray around all the structures of my property and seemed to work well, however with my new shop they are back and hide very well inthere, Ive had them come flying out of my tool box drawers when I open them. I know they are beneificial, but they are the only thing I am terrified of, I would gladly leave them alone if they did the same. I cannot coexist with these monsters!! KILL THEM ALL!
Hicks
09 Sep 2013, 10:01
Blast them using a semiautomatic gas gun. Or a shotgun for close encounters.
Hudson
06 Mar 2014, 02:05
Game over man, game over!
Mikki O'Loan
23 Mar 2014, 11:19
No! No! No! It is survival of the fittest. My God! It needs to be said that it is a biological reflex to be wary of spiders. I live in very hot Queensland Australia and a good spider is a dead spider. I have just moved from an air conditioned unit to a very old Queenslander home where the windows never fully close. So Exterminator, if that's who you truly are, tell me what do I need to do to ensure I am not in the fetal position screaming for my husband to "Kill it". Don't you cripple me Exterminator person. Your job is to come up with the solution. I am waiting.
Oh and shuddup.bleeding bloody hearts. Just shuddup. The website is called "ask the exterminator" not the "tree hugger".
Holly
29 Mar 2014, 00:15
I live in Adelaide,South Australia and we have huntsmans around our home. We never kill them, just move them out of our house and into the garden. Actually, my sons (6 & 2 yo) and I have been on a mission to help a mummy huntsman with all her babies on her back. She was trapped in our drain outside, so we got a few pieces of bark, sticks, leaves etc so she could climb out. She did. AND now has made a home on my husbands shoe near our door. I even went as far as squatting a few flies and placing them near her so she could eat with her babies. Now call me crazy, sad, whatever, but it is in my nature to want to help and also it is teaching my kids to be kind. Mind you, outside is better than inside! Plus Geez, give the spider a break, imagine having to carry all your kids on your back! :-)
Jay-Kay
05 Apr 2014, 09:03
I'm from Australia and I'm fine leaving them until they randomly drop from the ceilings at night. Nothing can prepare you for the sensation of a huntsman dropping on you when you walk from one room to another. Sadly I am terrified of spiders because I live in a high funnel web area so if a huntsmen does wreck my day by dropping on me my natural reaction is to jump on it. I wish they weren't so big :'(
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