Huntsman spiders are one of the most feared arachnids. But this wide family of spiders is also uniquely versatile. Here are 10 types of huntsman spiders to prove to you that you how different they can be from each other.
Most people know the term Huntsman Spider from images on the internet of a giant spider devouring a possum or a large rodent.
But the fact is that these spiders are an extremely diverse species of arachnids belonging to the Sparassidae family.
The family has as many as 1,300 spiders in it, divided into 94 genera. Moreover, they are known by different names in different places.
For example, in the United States, they are often referred to as Banana spiders (a reference to the crates of bananas they supposedly came in).
In Australia, they are also called wood spiders and giant crab spiders. In this article, we will look at some of the more famous classifications of huntsman spiders.
The Carparachne are native to Namibia and contain two species in their genus, the golden wheel spiders and the C. alba.
The famous golden wheel spider (C. Aureoflava) lives in sandy deserts. Like most other desert spiders, it has one mortal enemy – the Pompillidae (wasps).
To escape these ghastly predators who use spiders as live hosts for their larvae to feed on, this spider has evolved a unique way of running in the desert – it can cartwheel on the sand.
Here’s a video just to show you that humans weren’t the first to invent the wheel!
These spiders can grow upto 0.8 inches in size and usually live inside the sandy ground by digging a nest underneath it. They can move 80,000 times their weight while digging, so those nests surely go deep.
However, when the spider has just started digging its nest, it is vulnerable to attacks from pompilid wasps.
It’s at times like these that they use the cartwheeling trick – rotating at about 3.3 feet per sec. If it were the size of a car tire, this spider would be doing 186mph!
These beauties are nocturnal (not surprising given the hot environment it lives in). They love to munch on insects and small invertebrates.
So you thought the cartwheel motion of the golden wheel spider was amazing? Get ready for the Moroccan flic-flac spider.
The Cebrennus are genera that contain 19 species under them, and they are mostly residents of Asia, Africa and Malta, and Spain.
Of these, perhaps the most famous is the Moroccan Flic-Flac spider, known for its unique backward flips, similar to gymnasts.
The only difference is – this spider can pull out the ol’ backward flip when facing deadly opponents in a fight for survival and outrun them using this amazing body movement.
Watch the spider in action to be truly amazed!
These spiders are moderately sized (they measure between 0.5 to 0.9 inches in length). But its truly amazing trick is the jumps that it can do on sand dunes to propel itself.
It can move at speeds of 6.5 ft/s, and at its size, that speed is almost supersonic if it were to be scaled to a normal human’s size.
The Diminutella are the smallest members of the Sparassidae family. How small? Well, the males are just about 0.16-0.17 inches in length, and the females can be even smaller.
The Diminutella are native to the Pinar Del Rio region of Cuba and include only species in the entire genus, namely the Diminutella cortina.
These tiny mite-size spiders are surely a far cry from the usual image of the huntsman spiders being giants in the arachnid family.
The males have orange-colored heads (prosoma) and have dark brown linings along its body. It also has eight eyes arranged in two rows on the head. The females also share similar colors but have darker shades.
The Brown Huntsman spiders, or Heteropoda, are one of the largest genera in the Huntsman spider family. While most of them are found in Asia or Australia, there are one species in the Mediterranean.
The Heteropoda name comes from the unique shape of these spiders’ legs, which are of unequal size. But this unique adaptation lets these spiders move sideways, much like a crab.
This type of locomotion has some serious advantages – the spider is able to quickly change its direction and scuttle away when facing a predator.
That’s why they are also called crab spiders.
While most spiders in this genus eat small insects, there are some who will also eat tadpoles and fish when offered.
The famous Giant Huntsman spider, Heteropoda Maxima, is the largest spider in the world. It is the one that we were talking about in the introduction to this article.
These huge spiders can have bodies that are 1.6 inches in size, with legs that can reach as much as 12 inches long. They are often described as being the size of a dinner plate!
These spiders can eat huge insects, frogs, small possums, and almost anything that they can catch hold of. Just like other brethren of its species, H. Maxima has a knack for entering homes and hanging around in dark corners, hunting for prey.
Even though these spiders look terrifying, they are actually very timid and will run away at the first sign of trouble.
The spiders of this species have a very colorful name: “dancing white lady spiders.”
These nocturnal spiders are completely white in color (a very unique trait) and will not be found any time during the day, even to save their lives!
These wandering spiders like to dig deep burrows in the sand and stay there all day. They do everything from hunting to mating during the nighttime.
The Leucorchestris have evolved uniquely powerful eyesight to adapt to their entirely nocturnal lifestyle.
Their eight eyes are all focused in different directions (unlike other spiders), which helps them get a 360-degree view of their surroundings.
The males can wander as much as 130-200 feet from their burrows in search of mates but don’t find any trouble in getting back to the exact same spot.
They don’t even take the same path that they too!
Another unique thing about the males of this species is that they are voracious lovers – they will mate with at least half the female spiders they encounter on each of their nightly sojourns.
Leucorchestris drum their feet in the sand to create vibrations in order to communicate with others of the species.
When searching for females, the males use this technique to send out a special mating message.
These vibrations have to be extremely accurate because other spiders might confuse them for the arrival of prey and attack them for no reason.
The usual diet of these white spiders is insects, but they can also munch on other smaller spiders and reptiles.
Dancing white lady spiders are unique to Namibia and often get confused for the more abundant Carparachne.
Also known as Green Huntsman Spiders, the Micrommata are native to northern and eastern Europe (Denmark and G. Britain) and are – you guessed it – bright green in color.
This is another diminutive species of huntsman spider, where the females can reach body lengths of 0.47–0.63 in, and the males are limited to 0.28–0.39 in.
The green coloration is very useful because these spiders live in foliage, and their color helps camouflage themselves against predators (and also to hunt prey).
You can find these spiders near dry meadows, on the edge of forests, and in damp woodlands.
They prefer to live in the lower branches of trees and grass, where they can easily hide.
The banded huntsman spiders are greyish or brownish spiders with bands on their legs. They are among the larger spiders in the huntsman family.
This family is one of the largest genus of spiders in Australia. The males of the species can grow to be about 1 to 1.5 inches in size, and the females are slightly bigger.
The Holconia are most commonly found in Australia, but there are other countries that host them as well.
It has found homes in Southeast Asia, New Zealand, and the Mediterranean. In the United States, they are found largely in Florida and Hawaii.
The Badge Huntsman Spiders include as many as 19 species of spiders under their genus.
These are large spiders with long legs and are uniquely colored in various shades of black, white, yellow, and orange below their abdominal area. Their heads are usually grey.
The unique combination of the grey top and orange or yellow bottom is an advantage to these spiders. Usually, they are camouflaged by their brownish or greyish color on the ground or in trees.
But when threatened by predators, these spiders will often lie on their backs, showing off the bright colors on the abdomen.
It is thought that this bright display is a form of aposematism, which is meant to warn others that the insect they have encountered is dangerous.
These spiders have flat bodies that help them get into small corners and crevices on rock walls where they hide from predators. They also have bent legs which help them hide under rocks and fallen tree bark from dead trees.
Delena is a very small genus of huntsman spider. They include just four species, which are:
- Delena Craboides
- Avondale (Delena cancerides)
- Delena Nigrifrons
- Delena Gloriosa
These spiders are pretty big, with the females growing to 1.8 inches and the males reaching about 1 inch in size.
On average, these spiders are brown on grey in color, though there are different markings and patterns that separate all four. This species also has hairy spiders.
The unique feature of one of the species in the Delena genus, Delena Cancerides, is that they can live in the same nest for a long time without cannibalizing each other.
The mother and her children are social and do not threaten each other in any way, even though living in close quarters. They can live with their elders for almost a year after birth!
Many of them can be seen sitting under loose barks of trees, all chatting about as if they are one happy family.
This is actually very different from most other spiders, who will typically not tolerate even their own young living with them.
Cannibalism is rampant in the arachnid world, and only about 80 species are known to be social in this way.
Isopodella or Isopeda are very common in Australia.
Out of the 19 species described in this genus, 18 are found in different parts of Australia, while the only remaining exception is a resident of Indonesia.
Most of these spiders can grow up to 1-1.5 inches in length and are grey in color, with hairy bodies.
They have a set of eight eyes in the front, and crooked legs, bent in the middle to give them a crab-like appearance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Huntsman Spider friendly?
Most huntsman spiders are non-threatening and quite timid. They love to scuttle away at the slightest sign of a larger animal or predator in front of them.
Their long legs give them lightning-fast speeds, and many of these spiders also have bent, crab-like legs that help them to move sideways.
However, please note that these spiders can give painful bites if provoked. Hence it is not a good idea to handle them in the wrong way.
The females can be especially aggressive when guarding their young.
How do I identify a Huntsman?
There are many species of huntsman spider – 1,300 of them, categorized under 94 genera. There is no single way to identify them.
Their colors, sizes, shapes, and body structures can be markedly different from each other.
It is best to check what species live in your local area in order to get a good identification.
What is the biggest species of Huntsman Spider?
The giant huntsman spider is the most famous and the largest spider in the world by leg span.
Its legs can reach a whopping 12 inches in length, and the body itself can be up to 1.6 inches in size.
The giant Huntsman spider can eat insects and animals the size of small rodents and is often found lurking in corners of homes and cars, especially in the sun visors of cars.
It is largely responsible for giving the huntsman spiders the bad rap that they get from most people.
Is the Huntsman the fastest spider?
Huntsman spiders are pretty fast – they can run at speeds that are up to 40 times the length of their bodies, which puts them well above the normal speeds of humans.
These spiders have evolved uniquely long legs that are bent in the middle, which allow for extremely fast locomotion on any surface.
Some spiders in the Huntsman species use unique ways of moving and running away, such as the golden wheel and flic-flac spiders which we described above.
We hope that after reading this article, you will have been truly amazed by the huge variety of shapes, sizes, and tricks the Huntsman Spiders use to live in the wild.
While popular opinion often paints them as huge monsters, these spiders can be gentle, loving mothers, camouflage experts, and marvels of locomotion that roboticists have studied to create new designs.
Thank you for reading!