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.
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.
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.
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