Huntsman spiders are incredible – they can run very fast, they are huge in size, and they are incredibly good hunters. But do huntsman spiders jump too? Let’s find out.
Huntsman spiders or giant crab spiders are large and quite quick. They are called so because of the way their legs are bent, giving them the appearance of a crab.
This unusual leg arrangement is located away from the body and helps them jump (or rather fall) from a surface. The real strength of the arachnid, though, lies in its speed.
More than 5,000 species of jumping spiders can be found across the globe, especially in tropical regions. 300 of them can be found in the United States alone.
But is the brightly colored huntsman spider a member of the jumping spider family? Or is it different?
Do they jump, spring or bounce? Let’s find out more about them!
What Are Jumping Spiders?
Jumping spiders belong to the family Salticidae. Phidippus audax is amongst the most common jumping spiders in the world.
Jumping spiders are typically smaller than other arachnids found in and around our homes or gardens. They are carnivorous, and they love preying on insects similar to their size or smaller.
The huntsman spider, on the other hand, relies on its vision, speed, and running skills to hunt.
How Can You Identify Jumping Spiders?
Identifying jumping spiders is easy. Jumping spiders have vivid splashes of colors all over their body and can often be seen sporting colors like red, white, and metallic green (their jaws or chelicerae, especially).
The jumping spider has the extraordinary ability to jump distances more than 10-40 times their body length.
Most jumping spiders are hairy spiders. They have eight eyes, and their head and thorax are fused. One of these pairs is larger than the rest and is located on the cephalothorax’s front.
Their giant eyes are capable of detecting distances just like human eyes and can detect movement easily.
Can Huntsman Spiders Jump?
Huntsman spiders do not jump but have an odd way of moving about. These crab spiders have an unusual leg arrangement that can give an observer the appearance of jumping.
The joints of most of these spiders are not vertically perpendicular to the body but twisted forward in a crab-like manner.
Other species of huntsman spiders use odd locomotion styles too.
For instance, the golden wheel spider (Carparachne aureoflava) uses a completely unique rolling movement to run from predators. It is a native of Namib in South Africa.
Another huntsman from the same region called the Cebrennus rechenbergi, moves around in a handspring motion when trying to evade predators.
There are other differences as well.
Huntsman spiders remain active during the night and are famous for their unique mating rituals.
The male spider vibrates its palps to woo the female, and the female does not devour the male after mating, unlike other spiders.
Lastly, rather than weaving webs, the giant huntsman spider hunts, forages, and grabs its food through its superior speed.
How Do Huntsman Spiders Hunt?
As mentioned above, Huntsman spiders do not spend their time waiting for their prey to walk into their silk trap.
Instead, they wait for insects, stalk them and pounce on them when the time is suitable. In some cases, they can cover a lot of distance to reach their prey before killing it.
These types of spiders mostly eat insects and other invertebrates at night.
Cockroaches are a particular favorite, so if your home is a haven for roaches, the Huntsman makes an excellent beneficial insect and natural pest remover.
What Are Some Other Unique Things About Jumping Spiders?
Jumping spiders are found across all continents, and their habitats vary just as much as their appearances.
These small and fuzzy-headed insects are often only 0.5 inches in length, but there is a lot of diversity in size.
The Hyllus giganteus is the largest spider in this species, measuring almost upto an inch. On the other hand, the Habronattus pyrrithrix only measures up to 0.19 to 0.3 inches.
Carl Ludwig Koch, a German arachnologist, discovered the giant jumping spider in 1846 and first mentioned it in his co-written book The arachnids: depicted and described true to nature.
The latter can be found in the southwestern US and western Mexico.
However, while they may all be different in size, there is one commonality – their eyesight is superb. They have four pairs of eyes, all pointed in the front, ready to pounce.
The central two eyes are as powerful as little binoculars and have 360-degree vision because they can move in all directions.
There are many other notable facts about these spiders, but perhaps the most important is the way they hunt their prey.
They build a single silk thread to attach themselves to a place like an anchor, helping them in a more stable trajectory as they are jumping.
They then jump distances of as much as 6.3 inches in order to grab their prey, a distance nearly six to ten times their size.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do huntsman spiders chase you?
Deliberately? No. Huntsman spiders might chase you if they feel threatened. They are not interested in humans and are not aggressive creatures hell-bent on gobbling you up or maiming you. They only go the extra mile for a delicious snack.
Should I be scared of a huntsman spider?
Huntsman spiders aren’t on the lookout for you. These spiders won’t attack you unless provoked. Their spider bites are not very painful and, in most cases, do not require medical attention.
If you still get bitten, you can use cold packs. If you experience inflammation and vomiting, seek medical help immediately.
Will huntsman spiders crawl on you?
No, huntsman spiders do not crawl on you under normal circumstances, and they don’t take a stroll on your face while you’re sleeping, either.
These spiders do like to come inside houses, but they prefer to keep their distance from humans and will not come near you even when you are asleep.
Why do huntsman spiders run at you?
If it does move toward you, it will be because it feels threatened. Huntsman spiders cannot look at you properly and so can sometimes run toward you instead of running away from you.
The huntsman spider is a social arachnid not fond of aggression and will move towards you if there is some kind of threat display.
Huntsman spiders are roving hunters who use speed, agility, and strength to catch their prey. They don’t rely on their web-weaving skills for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Excluding a run down for a lip-smackingly delicious cockroach, these species of spiders are non-aggressive. It is best to live and let these furry friends live too!
Thank you for reading!
Huntsman spiders have crouched legs, which gives the appearance that they are getting ready to jump.
Many of our readers have asked us this question – why do they seem to always be ready to jump?
Read through the emails below to understand how confusing it can be!
Letter 1 – Huntsman Spider
I’ve recently returned from Oahu, Hawaii, where I found this 3 inch web-less spider sitting still behind a door for a few days. It caught my attention because of its size, and because it has, to me, the likeness of a Hawaiian-mask on its back. A quick internet search revealed nothing, to my surprise. What is it?
What an excellent photo of a male Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria.
Letter 2 – Mountain Huntsman Spider from Australia
Huntsman?? Location: north west sydney October 26, 2010 9:12 pm we found this spider in our ride on mower and was wondering what type of spider it was, it was about the size of an average hand. Signature: tash Dear tash, You are correct. This is a Huntsman Spider in the family Sparassidae. We located a visual match on the Insects of Brisbane website that is identified as the Mountain Huntsman Spider, Isopeda montana and it is also pictured on the LifeUnseen website.
Letter 3 – South African Huntsman Spider makes great pet
African Huntsman Location: South Africa February 24, 2011 8:50 am Hi there, I love your site. I stumbled upon it while looking for sites about Tarantulas and have been hooked since. I am icluding a few pictures of the African Huntsman(Sparassidae family) from South Africa. I just love spiders and have raised 6 Tarantulas since they were spiderlings. I also catch spiders in friends houses before they get killed and set them free. The pictures are of one of these spiders that I caught and released after feeding it. The Huntsman from South Africa. Henk Dear Henk, Thanks so much for taking the time to submit these awesome photos of your South African Huntsman Spider. We really enjoyed your email championing the rights of spiders to cohabitate with humans. Ed. Note: March 4, 2011 There was a delay in posting this submission due to corrupted photo files. Thankfully, Henk resent the images of this South African beauty.
Letter 4 – Huntsman Spider (or Wandering Spider) from Ecuador
Ecuadorian Spider Location: Ecuador Rain Forest March 3, 2011 3:43 pm I spotted this spider during a night hike near the Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve in Ecuador. The length of the body was about 1.5”, and fore leg tip to rear leg tip about 3”. The bright coloring certainly indicated ”stay away” to me. The legs appeared slightly blue under my flashlight. The body is a reddish orange. Signature: John R. Anderson Dear John, This is a beautiful Spider. We believe it is a Huntsman Spider in the family Sparassidae, also known as Giant Crab Spiders. Huntsman Spiders do not build webs and many are nocturnal hunters that wander about in search of prey. Most Huntsman Spiders are harmless, though their large size often induces fear when they are encountered. It is our understanding that there are some dangerous venomous South American Huntsman Spiders, and the aposematic warning colors on this specimen may indicate that it is a highly venomous species. Karl provides some insight Hi Daniel and John: What a lovely spider! It’s too bad the eyes aren’t visible as they are often the best way to determine a spider’s family. It has been said often on this site that you can’t trust everything you find on the internet when it comes to bug identification, and here is a good example of why that is sage advice. I thought I was on the right track when I found this image of what was identified as a Wandering Spider (Ctenidae), but the trail soon grew cold and I got suspicious. I little more searching turned up this promising photo of a Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae), but again I could find nothing more to confirm that this was the right beast. Finally, I came across several photos suggesting it belonged to the family Platoridae. In this case, however, I couldn’t even confirm that this family still exists, with several sites suggesting that it had been dismantled and re-distributed among several other families (e.g., Trochanteriidae). If I had to choose I would probably favour a Wandering Spider, but this is going to require a lot more expertise than I have to offer (and I have to run and pack for Mexico, with bugs and spiders on my brain). Regards. Karl
Letter 5 – Huntsman Spider, we believe
Huge Spider in Costa Rica Location: Costa Rica near Arenal Volcano November 3, 2011 9:27 pm Hi. I’m wondering if you can help me identify this bug. It was in our hotel room in Costa Rica. We were staying at the Arenal Observatory, right next to the Arenal Volcano. It was late May/early June in the middle of the day. Signature: Freaked Out! Dear Freaked Out!, We are sorry to hear you have still not recovered from this six month old sighting. We believe this is a Huntsman Spider and based on the pedipalps, we believe it is a male. Huntsman Spiders do not build webs, but rather, they stalk their prey, often at night.
Letter 6 – Giant Crab Spider or Huntsman Spider from Ecuador: Sadala species perhaps
Subject: Ecuadorian Crab Spider Location: Ecuadorian Amazonia May 23, 2012 4:47 pm Last year I posted an image of this species looking for an identification. In April I was back in Ecuadorian Amazonia and I spotted another of these beautiful orange spiders with bluish legs. My guide, a Shuar indian, said it was a crab spider. This was one of your answers in 2011. I was able to capture the eyes this time. Signature: John R. Anderson Hi John, We will link to your original posting. We decided to do some additional research. First we located this YouTube video identified as being in the family Sparassidae, the Giant Crab Spiders. Then we located this photo on FlickR identified as a Wandering Spider in the family Ctenidae. Then we found this FlickR image identified as a Giant Crab Spider in the genus Sadala, and finally, we found the same photo with the same identification on FlickRiver as part of the Bigal River Conservation Project in Northeast Ecuador. Daniel, Did you reach a conclusion? One problem in the jungle is the lack of good reference materials. An anima’ls name could be passed from one guide to the next (or one generation to the next) with no way to verify the knowledge. When one uses a term like “wandering spider” it seems very general. In the end, this is one of the most beautiful spiders I have ever encountered. Just curious. Thanks, John R. Anderson Hi again John, We are more inclined to speculate that it is the Giant Crab Spider or Huntsman Spider family Sparassidae. As far as verifying the genus Sadala goes, both sources can be traced to the same original so there is no verification. In our opinion, you should seek assistance from an expert if you want to confirm any identification. Karl provides some information Hi Daniel and John: Since this lovely spider has made another appearance on your site I felt compelled to give it another go. It is not difficult to find images of this spider on the internet but finding information that is useful for identification purposes has proven to be very frustrating. In addition to the three possible families that have already been mentioned in this and the previous post I also found one site with two photos that looked like they were probably of the same spider, but suggesting it was a Running Crab Spider (Philodromidae). I chose to ignore it and pressed on. I eventually came up with genus Olios, a Huntsman Spider in the family Sparassidae (by the way the eyes in this second posting do look like Sparassidae to me). You can check out online photos identified as Olios sp. here, here, and here. I found several others as well but I was having trouble with the hyperlinks. I checked out several spider lists for Ecuador and it appears that there are two species of Olios in Ecuador, O. corallinus and O. niveomaculatus, but I could find no photos or useful information for either. Until you get confirmation from a real expert, I hope this helps more than it confuses. Regards. Karl Thanks for your research Karl.
Letter 7 – Huntsman Spider
Subject: Unknown Spider from Sierra Leone Location: Sierra Leone February 4, 2013 5:13 am Hello, my younger brother took this picture while on one of his many trips to Sierra Leone. He would love some help in identifying this beautiful spider. It is enormous, roughly the size of my brother’s outstretched hand! Signature: Regards, Kim Dear Kim, We believe this Huntsman Spider is Heteropoda venatoria, a species that has greatly expanded its range thanks to the cultivation and shipment of bananas.
Letter 8 – Spider from Borneo is Huntsman Spider
Subject: Giant ?leaf insect from Borneo plus cool spider Location: Kinabatangan river,Sabah,Borneo February 20, 2013 7:15 am Hi, I have used your wonderful service before now to help with ID of Borneo insects – hope that you can help with these from Borneo, riverine forest near the Kinabatangan river, found at night. Best, Louise Signature: Louise HI Louise, We do not recognize this spider, but the eye arrangement is nicely represented in the photo and we imagine a spider expert, which we do not have on our staff, might be able to classify it correctly to the family level. We are posting your photo as unidentified and hopefully in the future, one of our readers might provide a species or family identification. In the future, please only submit one species per submission unless there is some reason, like predator and prey. Thank you very much for your help, I will ask a spider expert and hope that Piotr can help with the katydid. Louise Update from Louise: Heteropoda venatoria Thanks Daniel I just got a positive Id from Ray Hale who is writing a book on Spiders of Borneo Heteropodidae. It looks like Heteropoda venatoria Any luck on the katydid? Or shall I try and contact Piotr directly?
Letter 9 – Huntsman Spider from South Africa may be Cape Rain Spider
Subject: Spider Location: Phantom Pass near Knysna,, The Cape, South Africa January 9, 2014 10:09 am We woke up with this spider inside our bed netting whilst on holiday in the Cape in South Africa. We were staying in an tree top Eco lodge so were surrounded by trees. Everyone have told us different names so we want to finally know what it is! Thank you for your help! The spider was about 8-10 cm including legs. Signature: Katarina S-C Dear Katarina, This is such an interesting photograph. Was the spider crawling on a pane of glass? We cannot figure out how else you could have gotten such a high quality ventral view. We believe this is a Huntsman Spider. It looks very much like the Badge Huntsman Spiders of Australia in the genus Neosparassus. It also resembles this Huntsman Spider posted to Ranger Diaries from Kruger National Park. The underside of a Huntsman Spider (we believe the genus Palystes) that is posted to Arachnipedia looks very similar to your spider. The Cape Rain Spider, Palystes castaneus, which is pictured on ISpot is a very strong possible identification for your spider. Hi Daniel, Yes, the spider was crawling on the outside of the glass wall to our Eco lodge 🙂 after I put it outside on the balcony after encouraging it to climb into a bathroom bin with a hairbrush! Thank you for your help! Kind regards Katarina
Letter 10 – Aquatic Spider from Malaysia is Lichen Huntsman Spider
Subject: Malaysian Fishing Spider Location: Malaysia January 20, 2014 8:56 am Came across this spider well camouflaged against granite rocks inches above rushing mountain stream water. Was motionless except for twitches when hit by a large drop of spray. My web crawling seems to point at the dolomedes family. Would appreciate your opinion and i do believe its as pretty if not more so than you white banded one. Thanks Signature: N.Sathesh Dear N. Santhesh, We just returned from a week away from the office and your request is our first new posting. Your letter is intriguing and your photos are positively gorgeous. The spider appears to be iridescent. We do not believe this is a Fishing Spider in the genus Dolomedes. We do not even believe it is a Nursery Web Spider in the family Pisauridae. We would love to know if you observed any behavior that led you to believe this spider fishes for prey and is semi-aquatic. Do you think it is possible that it fell in the water and is not really a spider that catches prey beneath the surface of the water? Dear Mr Marlos, It was perfectly at home in its environment, on the side of granite boulders just inches above the surface of a fast flowing freezing (by our tropical standards) mountain stream. There was no web to be seen any where near it and from the spines on its legs and body, which i assumed was for trapping a layer of air i surmised that it was a diving spider of some kind. I did observe it for quite some time and in that period it did not move into the water or away from it but it did not appear injured or unwell. N.Sathesh Dear N. Sathesh, Thank you so much for the additional information. We will continue to research the identity of this beautiful and interesting spider. Update: Eye Arrangement We have cropped the image to focus on the eye arrangement which does not look like the Malaysian Fishing Spider pictured on TravelBlog nor the family Pisauridae eye arrangement pictured on Bugguide. We are going to reach out to Mandy Howe for assistance. Dear Mr Marlos, This is the stream in which that spider was found. Incidentally just for your interest as i was standing on one of these boulders this blue winged insect (perhaps a wasp?) the size of my big toe landed, when if flew off it left this carcass of a large spider it had been carrying about underneath. N.Sathesh Hi again N. Sathesh, Thanks for sending us the habitat photo. We are going to create a new posting of the wasp and new spider. Update: January 23, 2014 We just received a comment indicating that this resembles a Lichen Huntsman Spider in the genus Pandercetes, and the photos on FlickRiver support that identification. Dear Mr Marlos, Yes it does look the part doesn’t it, This individual must have decided that it could make a good living at this location. The stream was full of fish and insects such as water skaters, perhaps in this section of roiling water some of these potential prey might get into difficulties that could facilitate capture. Thanks for the info. N.Sathesh Mandy Howe confirms Pandercetes species. January 23, 2014 Hi Daniel, Yep, genus Pandercetes of family Sparassidae is spot on! There are a handful of species in that genus that could live in Malaysia. It’s usually the males that are more colorful and iridescent, so that may be what this one is (though I can’t see the pedipalps very well to verify). “Lichen Spider” is definitely a fitting nickname! Wow. Thanks so much Mandy. Daniel
Letter 11 – Bug of the Month November 2016: Huntsman Spider from Costa Rica
Subject: Costa Rican tarantula – grey and black with red eyes Location: Costa Rica October 30, 2016 7:00 pm Hi, My husband and I live in Costa Rica, We have a large black tarantula that lives in a hole outside our front door. (2nd attached photo ) We’ve named her Harriet. 🙂 But we came across a very strange looking tarantula the other day – it is grey and black with red eyes (1st attached photo) I could not find anything online that looked similar so figured I would run it by you guys! Let me know what you think – thanks! We also found a 3rd tarantula at our house I also attached a photo of. It is hard to identify them online. Signature: Kari Pinkerton Silcox Dear Kari, After opening three of your four email submissions, we feel confident stating that we expect you to thwart our ability to identify exotic species online before long. This positively gorgeous spider is not a Tarantula, but rather a Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider in the family Sparassidae. They are easily confused with Tarantulas. They are large, and they hunt nocturnally without building a web, and some tropical species are rumored to be quite venomous. The first hint we had, other than starting with a known family and a location, was an image identified as “A huntsman spider, formerly Olios now being reclassified” on Minibeast Wildlife on a page devoted to the attraction that “The spider fauna on the Osa Peninsula is rich and diverse.” We found this image of a Huntsman posted to SpiderzRule/BadgeHuntsman page that is described as: “About 3 to 3 1/2 inches across the legs. Found at night under a heliconia leaf along a rainforest stream at about 200 Meters elevation near Drake’s Bay, Costa Rica. No web seen.” In this gorgeous WeHeartIt image, you can clearly see the eye pattern of the six eyes, and you can also discern that what you mistook for eyes are actually red ocelli or false eyes on the chelicerae. Because of several reasons, beginning with the enthusiasm you have written to us with such lovely Costa Rican species, and because it is the First of the Month, we are tagging this submission as the Bug of The Month for November 2016. Since we do not like to combine different taxonomical categories on our site, we will post your Tarantula images independently. You are also making us want to start a Costa Rica tag. Thank you so much Daniel, I really appreciate your time. The interesting bugs in Costa Rica are mind blowing, we have endless photos of cool critters and I didn’t want to overwhelm your inbox too much with all my photos, although it was tempting, haha. But if you do a Costa Rica tag or section please let me know and I am happy to submit some more interesting insect photos! I shared your Bug of the Month on my Costa Rica travel blog facebook page (Happy Coconuts Travel Blog), that is exciting to be featured. Thanks for doing what you do! 🙂 Here is a photo blog I published a while back on all the interesting creatures outside our door on the edge of the Osa Peninsula of Costa rica if you’re interested in checking out some more cool insect/bug/critter photos: http://www.happycoconutstravelblog.com/blog/welcome-to-the-jungle Pura Vida! Kari Silcox www.happycoconutstravelblog.com
Letter 12 – Huntsman Spider or Wandering Spider from Borneo???
Subject: Juvenile maybe? Location: Lupa Masa, east base of Mt.Kinabalu, Sabah July 29, 2017 2:17 am Hi. I happened to find this at 10pm , 28th July 2017. I checked a lot of images and there are similar ones when googling Borneo huntsman. Thing is, this one is about 3cm in length. Sorry the photo isn’t great, because my camera is an ancient lumix compact. Are we looking at a juvenile? I’ve seen others with similar colour and shape but way bigger. Thanks John Signature: In blood Dear John, We are not sure if this is a Huntsman Spider in the family Sparassidae or a Wandering Spider in the family Ctenidae.
Letter 13 – Huntsman Spider from South Africa
Subject: ?? a wolf spider Geographic location of the bug: Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa Date: 10/08/2018 Time: 07:27 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman: I found you on the website and wonder if you might help? I saw this spider in a neighbour’s garden. It was on the gate staying very quiet and not moving at all at about 11 in the morning. I grew up in Zim so have always loved all things “many legged”. I can’t figure out what type of spider this is? Do you know? It was almost a pinky-brown colour. I have attached a picture. How you want your letter signed: Many thanks, Robyn. Dear Robyn, This is NOT a Wolf Spider. It is a Giant Crab Spider or Huntsman Spider in the family Sparassidae. Dear Daniel, Thank you so much for your reply. Very much appreciated. Have a great day, Robyn.
Letter 14 – Wandering Spider found in Walmart Banana Shipment
Subject: Spider found in Walmart bananas Geographic location of the bug: New Jersey Date: 01/09/2019 Time: 11:43 AM EDT Your letter to the bugman: A friend found this spider in the bananas they were stocking on a local Walmart. My reverse image search says wolf spider. Facebook comment says tarantula. Can you provide some clarification please? Love the site, and your insightful and thoughtful answers. How you want your letter signed: Joshua Dear Joshua, This is definitely NOT a spider native to New Jersey, and our best guess is that it was imported with the bananas from Costa Rica or Colombia or some other tropical country where they are grown. It is NOT a Tarantula. This sure looks to us like a Wandering Spider in the family Ctenidae or a Huntsman Spider in the family Sparassidae. Here is a FlickR image of a Wandering Spider. Some Wandering Spiders and Huntsman Spiders are reported to be quite venomous, so the gloves were a smart decision on the part of the handler.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Katydid and Orange Huntsman Spider
I LOVE your site, bugs are fascinating Dear wtb, Here is a lovely winged green thingie we had on our porch in Anguilla. We called him our Leaf Bug, as we don’t know what he is. Size about 2.5 inches long. And here is a spider who just hung out by our front door. She was about 3 inches from her left to right legs. I did see on your tick page that the last picture sent in by Simon, is a female deer tick. We have them everywhere here on Cape Cod, and if there are deer around, if you get bitten, you most likely will get Lyme disease. My husband just got over Lyme disease, had to be on antibiotics for a year! Darcy’s picture above it is an immature dog or wood tick, these rarely carry Lyme disease, but do carry Rocky Mt. Fever and Tularemia, and other co-infections. If there is anything you want to know about ticks, I unfortunately know too much. Great site you have! Thank you, Jane Carter Hi Jane, Thanks for the compliments. Your Leaf Bug is a Katydid. We are wondering if the spider was also in Anguilla or in Cape Cod. We suspect Anguilla. This is a type of Huntsman Spider, also called Giant Crab Spiders. We have never seen an orange one before. Thanks for the tick info. Hi WTB people, Thank you! A Katydid, that is neat. He was a very cute critter. Yes, the Orange Huntsman spider was in Anguilla too, the critters loved to hang out on the porch. I think they valued the shade, and also we washed off our snorkel gear on the steps and then poured the water on the flowers, so there was always clean fresh water there for them. And the chickens couldn’t reach them up on the side. Chickens eat anything, and the bugs must know that. Jane