Huntsman Spiders can grow very large and have a habit of entering human homes. So are huntsman spiders friendly, or should you be afraid of them? Let’s find out.
It is very common to come across people who fear spiders, especially when the spiders are big and fast. One such spider is the huntsman.
These spiders are known for being the biggest arachnids in the world by leg span (actually, the giant huntsman spider is only one of the 1,300 species of huntsman spider) and agility.
They are also good hunters. But what if we tell you that the huntsman spider is not aggressive towards humans, and one should not be scared of them?
Yes, the fact is that there is a big misconception about these spiders being dangerous, perhaps because of their size and habit of entering homes.
In this article, we want to bust this myth.
Why Are People Afraid of Huntsman Spiders?
When a large spider comes suddenly running at you from a dark hiding place, it is natural for people to get a little intimidated, especially those with a fear of spiders.
The huntsman spider is one of the largest spiders in the world.
These giant spiders can be as large as the palm of a person’s hand. They show an average growth of around 6.3 inches, which is quite huge.
The giant huntsman spider can grow to be the size of a dinner plate! The huntsman family of spiders is quite big, with arachnids in all shapes and sizes.
Apart from the huge size, these spiders are hairy and are great runners. The fastest of these giant huntsman spiders runs almost as fast as an Olympic sprinter.
This incredible speed adds to their intimidation factor. But should we be afraid of these kinds of spiders? Let us find out in the next section.
Do We Need To Fear Them?
You will be surprised to know that despite their giant size and intimidating appearance, the huntsman spider is timid and are of no danger to humans.
There are rare instances where they have attacked humans.
Yes, their bite can be painful, but it doesn’t cause serious injury. Therefore when you come across these spiders, there is no need to panic.
There are several reports in the media about these spiders being found inside homes and cars, some even running across the sun visors, scaring the bejeezus out of families.
But the fact remains that huntsman spiders aren’t looking to bite you at all. They probably came into your home or car searching for food.
In fact, in 2014, a reporter from the Daily Telegraph newspaper from Australia actually did a challenge, letting a huntsman spider crawl across his face, just to show how harmless it is.
Do Huntsman Spiders Bite?
As we stated above, the Huntsman spiders can bite, but they are not aggressive toward humans.
The only time these spiders are mildly aggressive is during summer when the females guard their eggs.
If you threaten these spiders, they will probably run away from you. In rare cases, they might bite as a defensive display.
A huntsman spider bite is painful but does not cause any long-term harm to your body unless it triggers an allergic reaction.
Are They Venomous?
Yes, the huntsman is a venomous spider, but they use this venom for hunting and immobilizing the prey insects.
A huntsman spider bite can cause severe pain to the human body.
The bite can also cause other effects, including redness, swelling, vomiting, headache, and more. If the bite is severe or repeated, the signs can be even more drastic.
However, in most cases, a huntsman spiders bite doesn’t require any external hospital treatment.
If the bite causes an allergic reaction in the body, immediately rush to the hospital for proper medical support.
Do Huntsman Spiders Intentionally Chase You?
You must have already discovered how fast these spiders can move, and because of this speed, it sometimes might seem like they are chasing you when they run toward you.
But this is a myth; if you come across a huntsman and it starts running toward you, it is not chasing or attacking you.
The spider is actually trying to run away from you. It is trying to get to a safe place, away from the presence of a giant human who looks threatening.
Since they have poor eyesight, they often get the direction wrong and start running toward you.
Is There Any Benefit To Having Them Around?
The huntsman spiders are excellent hunters and experts at ambushing the prey and immobilizing them.
These spiders hunt and eat various insects, including moths and cockroaches. They also consume some anthropods, lizards, and frogs.
If you are facing pests like moths, cockroaches, and house lizards around or inside your house, it might be a good idea to let the huntsman spider roam around a bit.
The best part is these spiders do not build webs to catch the prey, so you don’t have to worry about those nasty cobwebs hanging in the corners of your house.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are huntsman spiders aggressive?
Huntsman spiders may be big and intimidating in size and super fast in their movements, but these creatures are timid and shy to face human beings.
They are rarely aggressive towards humans and prefer to run to safety when they encounter one.
However, you should never try to threaten the females, as they will aggressively defend their eggs and bite you in defense.
What do huntsman spiders eat?
The huntsman spider eats a range of insects and arthropods as a part of its diet. They also eat small lizards and frogs at times.
These strong predators do not capture the prey in webs and hunt them using strength and speed.
Once they have captured the prey, they use the large fangs to hold and inject venom into the hunt’s body to immobilize them.
Where do the huntsman spiders live?
The huntsman spiders are mainly found in the regions of Australia, Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Florida, Hawaii, and other tropical and semi-tropical parts of the world.
Some of these species are also found in cold regions. For example, the green huntsman spider is found in the regions of Central and Northern Europe.
These spiders prefer to live in areas like the bark of trees, wall crevices, logs, foliage, rock crevices, and more.
What happens if a huntsman spider bites you?
Huntsman spiders are venomous and can cause severe pain through their bites on the human body.
It can also trigger swelling, redness, and headache in the victim’s body.
These insects rarely attack until they feel highly threatened. Therefore you should not approach them recklessly.
Appearances can be deceptive, and in the case of the huntsman spider, this statement is very true.
A huge misconception is that these spiders are aggressive and dangerous to humans.
In fact, these timid and docile creatures will often run away from humans rather than attack them.
With the information given in this article, we hope that you will be able to handle the encounters with these insects in a smarter manner.
Thank you for taking the time to read the article.
Huntsman spiders are fast and rather large, so its no wonder that many of our readers want to know how aggressive or friendly they are.
Read on to get a taste of some of the mails from our readers in the past on the subject.
Letter 1 – Crippled Huntsman Spider from Maldives
6 Legged Spider??!!
This was on our beach chair on an island in The Maldives in February, can you tell me what sort of Spider this is? I’m assuming it’s lost 2 legs ! I’ve got 3 pictures but they’re too large to send together so this is 1 of 3 …. Many thanks,
We can’t be more specific than that this is a Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider. They are hunting spiders that do not build webs, and are generally not fond of brightly lit locations. We are guessing it had taken shelter in the chair and was surprised suddenly to be sunbathing.
Letter 2 – Huntsman Spider
Is this a Florida wolf spider?
May 24, 2010
This spider appeared on our kitchen ceiling as I was innocently cooking dinner. We had found a similar spider the week beforehand in our garage. I am hoping that it’s just a wolf spider since there seems to be a family. Can you identify it?
Saint Petersburg, FL
This non-native Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, is also called a Banana Spider because it spread to many parts of the world by stowing away in bunches of bananas. This species is harmless, and it has naturalized in many warmer climates with ports. This Huntsman Spider is actually a beneficial species since it is a nocturnal hunter and it feeds on night foraging cockroaches. Your individual is a male.
Letter 3 – Huntsman Spider from China
Location: Guangzhou, South China
November 27, 2010 11:17 am
Joe writing from South China. I assume you’ve been busy as I didn’t get a reply to my last question, but I’ve since found out it was a Bedstraw Hawkmoth caterpillar.
Any idea what this monster is? Is he dangerous?!
This is a Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, or a very closely related species. Because this species has increased its range worldwide by stowing away on banana shipments, it is commonly found in port cities with warmer climates worldwide. We have read conflicting information on its actual region of origin. Some sources claim Asia and others Central America, but since the banana is originally from Asia, it is possible that the Huntsman Spider had already become naturalized in Central America during the heyday of the cultivation of bananas, after having been originally introduced when the plants were transported from Asia.
Letter 4 – Giant House Spider from Netherlands
Location: Ede, The Netherlands
August 23, 2011 2:04 am
This spider was spotted in the Netherlands last Saturday (20th of August). Including its legs it was about the same size as a streched out hand. I’ve never seen anything like this before, that’s for sure!
This appears to us to be a male Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, a mainly tropical species that sometimes is introduced to cooler climates because of shipments of bananas and other items. They are not dangerous despite their large size and frightening appearance. They are nocturnal hunters that will prey upon cockroaches.
Thank you for your swift reply! It sure is reassuring to know it only eats cockroaches! 🙂
They will prey upon more than just Cockroaches, though that seems to be a favorite prey for them.
I meant reassuring more in the way that it would not prey on me while I sleep. Most indiginous spiders here are the size of a fingernail, not an entire hand, hence my discomfort 😉
In many tropical countries, they are allowed to live in the house. We imagine in The Netherlands, they might not survive the winter outside, but it might survive the winter indoors. Your individual is a male, as evidenced by his large pedipalps, so you don’t need to worry about him laying eggs and being overrun with Huntsman Spiders. If we were you, we would make him a pet. Just warn your visitors who your newest roommate is.
Correction: February 25, 2018
We just received a comment from Curious Girl questioning this identification. We agree with Curious Girl that this appears to be a Giant House Spider, not a Huntsman Spider
Letter 5 – Huntsman Spider from Yucca Valley
Subject: What is it?
Location: Yucca Valley, CA
May 5, 2013 11:15 pm
I have lived in my house for 5 years and have seen 4 of these. The first 1 was in the garage on the wall up high. The second was at the bottom of my laundry basket that came from the garage. The third was in my hall by the attic up high and the fourth was tonight in my kitchen on the wall up high. People say it is a crab/huntsman spider or a wolf spider. I have 3 kids and was wondering if they are poisonous and if it is one of the spider’s I mentioned.
This is a Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider in the family Sparassidae, and considering your location, it is most likely in the genus Olios, though you photo does not have enough detail to be certain. Giant Crab Spiders in the genus Olios are native and they are not considered dangerous. You can see additional images on BugGuide. Olios giganteus is documented from Yucca Valley on BugGuide.
Letter 6 – Huntsman Spider from Ghana
Subject: What’s this Spider?
Location: Ghana, Africa
October 14, 2013 7:02 am
Dear Mr. Bugman,
This little dude gave me a bit of a fright in Ghana…
Please could you let me know what it is?
This looks like a male Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, one of the Giant Crab Spiders. This species is sometimes called a Banana Spider because they would arrive in shipments of bananas grown on plantations. The species is established in many parts of the world, especially warmer ports, but they are believed to be a Central America species originally. They are nocturnal hunters that feed on Cockroaches. According to BugGuide, which covers North American species: “Non-native, introduced from Central America, possibly on banana shipments. Apparently spreading into the USA from warmest areas. Can be swift and sometimes aggressive but not considered dangerously venomous to humans. May bite in self-defense if roughly handled; mildly painful bite (can be likened to a bee sting if spider injects venom).”
Letter 7 – Huntsman Spider from British Virgin Islands
Subject: ?Huntsman Spider?
Location: British Virgin Islands
March 2, 2014 6:31 pm
I took this photo Feb 3 2009. This spider is on a 2×4 deck board, so the abdomen seems to be just less than an inch diameter. It was hiding out of sight under a canvas cover, and dropped out when the cover was lifted, so my guess is that it is mostly nocturnal. It sought a hiding place slowly.
We agree that this is a Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider in the family Sparassidae. They arrangement of the eyes looks like the examples on the BugGuide Spider Eye Arrangement page.
Letter 8 – Huntsman Spider from Haiti
Subject: Haitian Sensation
Location: Cap-Haïtien, République d’Haïti
January 30, 2015 12:45 am
What an informative website. So, Giant Crab Spider, Sparassid, Olios, I guess. May I ask for some help in identification, please? This was seen in northern Haiti … no unnecessary carnage though I can’t speak to her relationship with the local cockroach community.
You have the family correct, but this Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider is Heteropoda venatoria, a species that has spread to warm coastal cities throughout the world with shipments of bananas, hence another common name of Banana Spider. This individual is a male.
Letter 9 – Huntsman Spider in Bali
Subject: Spider in Bali
January 15, 2016 5:13 pm
Hi, we have a couple of these in our place in Bali, just wondering if there is anything we should know about it.
This is a male Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, and it is missing several legs. This particular species of Huntsman Spider has spread to many warm and temperate port cities around the world, probably by stowing away on ships in shipments of bananas. They are a harmless species of hunting spider that feeds by hunting prey rather than snaring prey in a web. They are tolerated in many places because they feed on Cockroaches and other undesirable household pests by stalking them at night. Huntsman Spiders are quite shy, usually hiding by day and hunting by night.
Letter 10 – Male Huntsman Spider in Dominican Republic
Subject: Dominican Republic spider
Location: Dominican Republic
May 15, 2017 3:07 pm
Hi, I was just in Puerto plata Dominican Republic and found this in our bathroom shower on the resort. It wouldnt move when I put the shower on but it’s legs were long.
This is a male Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, a species that is now found in warm climate port cities around the world, most likely because it was spread with banana shipments, giving it another common name of Banana Spider. Huntsman Spiders do not build webs in which to snare prey, but they hunt nocturnally for cockroaches and other nocturnal prey, meaning they are frequently tolerated in homes in the tropics because of the advantage of having a patrolling Huntsman Spider eliminating unwanted guests with six or more legs. Your individual appears to be dead.