Photographer: Janson Jones 2012 Source: www.dusttracks.com, www.bugguide.net Copyright:Janson Jones (used with permission)
Adult Description: The huntsman spider (Heteropoda venatoria) also called the giant crab spider or banana spider, is 20-23 mm in length with female's body length at the upper range compared to males. Females have an overall brown body and a larger abdomen with a tan marginal band on the carapace. Males have longer legs, longitudinal bands on the abdomen, and a cream band on the carapace. Both sexes display black spots on the legs at the base of erectile macroseta, which is the only part of the spider with noticeable hair.
Larva Description: Juvenile huntsman spiders look similar to that of the adult with no type of metamorphosis required for growth to maturation.
Host Plant: None
The huntsman spider is not poisonous, but if handled aggressively it will issue a painful bite. This spider does not use a web to capture prey and is ideal for management of cockroaches and similar indoor pests.
The female huntsman spider carries the egg sac beneath the abdomen containing about 200 eggs rendering the female nearly motionless due to the size of the egg sac (1.5 cm diameter).
The huntsman spider relies on speed to capture prey and injects poison into insects from the chelicerae rather than a web for trapping.
The huntsman spider is believed to have originated in Asia where its closest relatives are found. However, it is hypothesized to have been transported to the U.S. on banana shipments from Central America. With a preference to tropical climates, the Huntsman Spider has become established in southern states and spread around the Gulf Coast region as well as California.
U.S. Present: TX, AL, FL, GA, LA, MS, and CA
U.S. Habitat: This species is restricted to warmer climates, and can't survive outside during sub-freezing temperatures. It can be found hidden behind structures in houses, barns, or greenhouses. In areas where temperatures are mostly above freezing, the Huntsman Spider can be found away from man-made structures in avocado groves, or areas where it can find food.
The huntsman spider is often mistaken for the brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa) due to the shared color and markings. Fortunately, the huntsman spider does not share the same poisonous features and threat as the brown recluse Spider.
Gertsch WJ. 1948. American Spiders. D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., New York. 284 pp.Isbister, G. K., & Gray, M. R. 2002. A prospective study of 750 definite spider bites, with expert spider identification. Qjm, 95(11), 723-731.
Wallace HK. 1937. The use of a headlight in collecting nocturnal spiders. Entomological News 48: 160-161.