Web spinning huntsman
October 26, 2009
Web spinning huntsman
We get these around outside and inside our house (Queensland, Australia.) They look like male huntsman spiders, and are more active at night, but they also weave massive webs from time to time (between trees) with a very thick fiber. This one came out of my downpipe this morning and bit my arm, self defence I expect, the bite is not serious, just two red dots. Card is in the photo for scale, its the size of a regular credit card.
Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia
We are nearly certain this is a Giant Gray Huntsman Spider, Holconia immanis, which we initially identified on the Geocities Brisbane Insect Website. We continued to search for information once we had the scientific name. A website called the Australian Natural History Safari Website that appears to be run by individuals as opposed to being associated with a scientific organization indicates “The Grey Huntsman does not build a web and is found along the east coast of Australia. They are most active in the summer months and are often encountered in houses, gardens and forested areas. This spider does not bite readily and if it does the pain is mild and local to the bite area.” A scientific paper written by Klaus Henle from the 1993 Journal of Arachnology that is posted online indicates: “Both species are typical sit-and-wait foragers.Adult H. immanis seem to have 1-2 preferredambush sites where most individuals were ob-served on many consecutive nights up to a period of 6 months.” Another Australian Insect website that cites Henle’s observations indicates: “Habitat Huntsman spiders are found throughout the east coast of Australia. They do not build webs, and are usually found under bark or ivy or other such sheltered plants. They can also seek shelter inside houses. Diet Typically Huntsman spiders are described to be sit-and-wait foragers where they ambush their prey, often choosing favourite ambush sites (Henle, 1993).” The Insects of Townsville, Australia website built by Graeme Cocks has wonderful photographs. Since all the information we have been able to locate indicates that this species does not build webs, your observations are most interesting. All spiders can spin silk, but Hunting Spiders generally do not build webs as snares. If you are able to photograph this species with its web, please send us documentation in a followup email. It is possible that the Grey Huntsman Spider uses a silken line to move from tree to tree, but that it does not build an actual web.
I will keep an eye out for any webs. It happens rarely enough that I think it may be a mating or nesting thing. I’ve seen one wrap a palm frond in silk to make a kind of hide, then tie off the frond to our garage gutter. If I ever see it again, I will take some photos.