Huntsman spiders are often maligned because of their size and their ability to eat really huge things like rodents and birds. In this article, we look at where these spiders live and why they won’t attack you.
The name Huntsman spider is enough to make some people run for cover. Though these creatures are not the worst of the lot, who would want to suffer a nasty spider bite?
Despite their scary appearance, huntsman spiders are quite timid and scaredy cats. They often run away at the first sign of danger.
However, if you are one of those who simply cannot stand a spider, leave alone a giant spider in the room, it is best to stay away from their path.
Knowing where they live can help you stay away from them and save yourself some trouble. In this article, we will talk about the habitat of Huntsman spiders.
What Are Huntsman Spiders?
Members of the Sparassidae species of spiders, the Huntsman spider is one of the fastest-hunting spiders in the wild. They are also known by a few other names like the ‘giant crab spider’ or ‘wood spiders’ because of their size and appearance.
Huntsman spiders prefer tropical and temperate climate, and this is where most of them are found. They populate parts of Africa, Asia, Australasia, and the Americas, where they are found in dense, woody areas.
Huntsman spiders are also the world’s largest spiders by leg span. They are known for their unique ways of movement. These spiders are often observed to cartwheel when they are hunting, giving them speed.
Where Are Huntsman Spiders Found?
Huntsman spiders are native to different areas of the world. Most species are native to Asia, concentrated around Laos.
They can also be found in Africa, the Americas, and Australia, scattered around the Australasian region of temperate and tropical forests.
Are Huntsman Spiders in the US?
Huntsman spiders are found in warm subtropical areas and a few coastal states of the US. Their presence in the US has been traced back to Asia, where the original species are found.
What States Do Huntsman Spiders Live in?
They have been found in the states of Florida, Texas, and California, as well as the coastal states of South Carolina and Georgia.
In Florida, where there are multiple species of large spiders, the huntsman is recognized by its flat brown body and black spots.
They often come into areas inhabited by humans, sometimes making their way indoors as the weather gets cold.
A little dip into the folklore of America claims that the giant huntsman spider was brought into the American continent in banana boxes from Asia.
Perhaps this is the main reason for these spiders being called banana spiders across America.
Huntsman Spider Habitat
Huntsman spiders have a lot of different areas where they live.
In the wild, their habitat is limited to
- The loose bark of dead trees,
- Crevices on rock walls and logs,
- Among foliage and
- Slabs of tree bark on the ground.
A lot of these spiders are found in woody areas where they can hide easily. As we mentioned before, despite their size, these creatures are quite timid, and they always look for things to hide under.
A lot of social Huntsman spider species, like the Delena cancerides, are known to gather around under the bark on trees, sitting together. You are also likely to find them in a group on the ground under rocks.
When huntsman spiders come close to human habitation, they can make their way indoors. In cold weather, these spiders are known to enter houses through cracks in windows.
Huntsman spiders can get into areas where you least expect them – in Australia, there are many reports of these spiders found inside cars and scaring the daylights out of drivers. They get inside the car through sun visors and other small cracks or crevices
Frequently Asked Questions
Do We Have Huntsman Spider in California?
There are a number of large spider species that can be found in California.
The huntsman spider is one of them and is often spotted in wooded forests such as the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest or Sierra National Forest.
Huntsman spiders have the largest leg span among US spider species.
Do We Have Huntsman Spider in Texas?
Yes, Huntsman spiders can be found in Texas. These spiders are not the largest species found in North America, but they can get fairly large in size.
Their leg span can be upto five inches on their one-inch bodies. They can usually be recognized by a narrow body and legs.
Do Huntsman Spiders Live in Florida?
The pantropical species of huntsman spiders, scientifically called the Heteropoda venatoria are found in Florida.
They are mainly found in Southern parts of Florida and can be grey or brown in color. They can be recognized by the brown bands on their legs.
Will huntsman spiders chase you?
A huntsman spider is fairly timid in nature. Most spiders will run away at the sight of humans rather than attack them.
You might find several reports online of huntsman spiders chasing humans. The fact is that their eyesight is not too great, so what you think of as chasing is actually them trying to run away in the(comically) wrong direction.
But they can become aggressive if they feel provoked in any way or are manhandled. Moreover, females can be super aggressive when they are laying eggs.
The best idea is to keep a safe distance from the spider if you come across one.
The size and appearance of a Huntsman spider are enough to intimidate humans.
Though not aggressive in nature, they can cause painful bites that would need medical attention if you happen to cross paths with them.
These big spiders are found mostly in temperate climates on almost all continents. In the US, you might run across one in Florida, Texas, California, and coastal areas.
So the best idea is to steer clear of these creatures and maintain a safe distance if you see one.
Thank you for reading!
Over the years, our readers have sent us several emails on this topic. Please go through them below.
Letter 1 – Huntsman Spider
Six Legged Spider?
Sun, Nov 2, 2008 at 5:12 PM
Can you identify this spider, and is it harmful? I thought it was odd becuase it has only 6 hairy legs. It’s leg span is about 4 inches. I did not kill it, because I figured to be that size it must be eating a lot of other bugs. I have attached a photo. Thanks . . . Joan
Punta Gorda, FL
You are a good person, and wise to not have killed this male Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria. Huntsman Spiders are also called Banana Spiders or Giant Crab Spiders and they are nocturnal hunting spiders that do not spin webs, preferring to hunt their prey. They are valued in many areas because they consume cockroaches.
Thanks for your reply. I am surpised that you did not comment on his 6 legs. Isn’t that unusual for a spider? I thought spiders generally have 8 legs. I have attached a photo of another spider taken last year about this time. At the time I had identified it as a Huntsman by comparing it to photos on the website. Now I am not sure if that was corrrect. It was about the same size, but looked different from the 6 legged guy. It wasn’t as hairy. It also behaved differently. Last year’s spider moved very quickly if approached, whereas the 6 legged guy stayed put, and let me take lots of pictures.
Thanks again. Since moving to Florida, I have been fasinated by the spiders . . .
The six legged specimen is a male and your new photo is a female Huntsman Spider. They have sexual dimorphism, meaning the sexes have pronounced visual differences. In some animals, the differences are so pronounced that they appear to be different species. Often spiders lose legs, and occasionally, if they are young enough, the legs partially regenerate. Not so with your male Huntsman.
Letter 2 – Possibly Huntsman Spider in Tennessee
Location: Knoxville, TN
November 25, 2010 8:24 pm
So the other night I was halfway into a nice dream about a college grant when I heard my younger tweenaged sister screaming bloody murder in her room. I dashed into her room to find her cowering in the corner and shaking one of her crutches (she’d broken her leg the preivious thursday,) at the blinds. After dashing back to my room to get my glasses (I’m VERY nearsighed,) I got to behold THIS huge bugger. I got her camera from her dresser and this is the only shot I got of him. I told Emmers not to swat at it, being an avid spider lover (I own a very sweet rosy-toed tarantula, whom I love dearly and whom my sister wishes to coat with Raid,) and I rushed to Google the big boi. I got about three minutes to search before I heard a screech and several thwacking sounds coming from Emily’s room; the spider had apparantally made a dash for the closet after Emily had tossed a shoe at it. When I arrived, I found the poor arachnid squished into paper form. I gave him a tiny burial beside my Aloe plant and gave him a little cardboard headstone, which I marked ”Shelob”, before going back to bed. I then found this website and decided to ask what kind of spider he is. I’m assuming it’s some kind of wolf spider. As much as I like spiders, I’m not too familiar with the different spieces.
Signature: Lexie Bee
We believe you encountered an introduced Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, though BugGuide only reports it from the extreme southern states of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. This spider, which is believed to have spread to many warm port cities around the world because of stowing away on banana shipments, has even been reported in northern climates before the quality control on banana shipments was improved. You can compare your image to this one on BugGuide or this one on a forum.
Letter 3 – Huntsman Spider from Mexico
Subject: what’s this bug?
Location: CaboSan Lucas, Baja MEXICO
March 29, 2014 12:39 pm
I saw this human palm sized spider in Cabo San Lucas Baja Mexico in February.
can you identify?
This male Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, is most likely originally from Central America, however, its range was greatly expanded to many warm climates with harbors because the Huntsman Spiders were transported with shipments of bananas, earning them the common name Banana Spider. According to BugGuide: “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).” These Huntsman Spiders are frequently tolerated because they are nocturnal hunters that help to control cockroach populations.
Letter 4 – Huntsman Spider from Vietnam
Vietnamese bathroom spider
Location: Hue, Central Vietnam
October 21, 2010 6:26 pm
I have often seen this guy (or gal) and others like him in damp locations inside houses, in Hue, Vietnam. Legspan included, the largest ones are about 4 inches across.The legs, at the thickest section, can be up to 3/8 inch diameter, maybe more. I haven’t ever seen them in the bedroom or living room, so I take it they like moisture. I tried to post 2 photos, but kept getting a ”failed to send message, please try later” warning. The second photo showed that the spider’s legspan matches the length of a soapdish.
Signature: curious traveller
Dear Curious Traveller [sic],
Your spider appears to be one of the Hunstman Spiders, most probably Heteropoda venatoria, a species found in warm ports around the world that was introduced to many new habitats because of the importation of bananas. They are nocturnal predators that feed upon cockroaches.
Letter 5 – Huntsman Spider from Aegean Islands
Subject: Commonly found spider
Location: Eastern Mediterranea,Agean Sea,Islands
October 9, 2012 3:43 pm
What kind of spider is this one? I encounter them everywhere, even in my house.They usually make a small web on the corners of walls and hide in there.
You neglected to tell us the size of this beautiful creature, and we are guessing it is at least 4-5 centimeters across. It is some species of Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider, and we will try to do additional research. We are also guessing you are on a Greek island.
Update: October 14, 2012
We believe we have correctly identified this Huntsman spider as Eusparassus walckenaeri based on this photo posted to the Crab Spiders website and this photo from the Forum Natura Mediterraneo site.
Letter 6 – Huntsman Spider in Puerto Rico
Possible huntsman or crab spider in PR
February 7, 2010
We had a couple of these spiders in our rented house in Culebra PR late January. We relocated them outside once capturing them in large containers — boy did they run around quickly in the container once caught!
Spider lover in PA
Culebra Puerto Rico
Dear Spider Lover,
You are correct. This is a Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider in the family Sparassidae, though we are unable to tell from your photo if it is one of the most commonly encountered species, Heteropoda venatoria.
Letter 7 – Huntsman Spider from Indonesia
Subject: Large Spider found in and around house in Jakarta, Indonesia
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
January 30, 2014 7:17 pm
My daughter noticed the 1st spider on our wall inside our house in Jakarta, Indonesia. Earlier this week I found a larger spider of a similar species on the outside of my daughter’s window. For reference, the indoor spider is 2cm from bottom of abdomen to head (minus front fangs/legs). The one on the window was larger, about 4-5cm.
I am trying to reassure my wife that these spiders are not dangerous to humans, but I’m having a hard time locating any images for tropical spiders in Indonesia. Any help would be appreciated!
Signature: Chris Morris
You are correct that this male Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, is harmless to humans. These Huntsman Spiders are nocturnal hunters that do not build a web to snare prey. They prey upon Cockroaches as well as other insects, so they are beneficial around the house. Heteropoda venatoria has a rather large global distribution, especially in tropical and semitropical port cities and they increased their native range greatly by hitching rides on ships with banana shipments.
Letter 8 – Huntsman Spider from Singapore
Subject: Spider looks like Snuffleupagus!
Geographic location of the bug: Singapore, Singapore
Time: 04:34 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hello Bugman. We spotted this rather large spider lounging atop a leaf in a shady area beside a path in a mangrove forest. My friend called it “Snuffleupagus” while I kept thinking “Davy Jones” from Pirates of the Caribbean. We’re hoping you can tell us the proper name of this pretty spider.
How you want your letter signed: Thanks!
Because of the increased length of the first two pairs of legs relative to the two pairs of hind legs, we are identifying your Spider as a Huntsman Spider or Giant Crab Spider in the family Sparassidae, and they eye arrangement also supports that family. Huntsman Spiders are not considered dangerous to humans. They are nocturnal hunters that do no build webs. Some species even adapt to living with humans where they are tolerated because they feed on cockroaches, scorpions and other more problematic household visitors. Here is a BugGuide image for comparison.
Thank you so much for the identification of the spider! It looked so strange with all legs splayed forward, I had thought it was a decaying flower until I saw the rows of eyes. Very grateful for your help solving our “snuffleupagus spider” mystery!
Dr Gan Su-lin
Letter 9 – Huntsman Spider
Spider almost the size of my hand
Wed, Dec 24, 2008 at 6:26 AM
I found this very large, very fast, and very creepy spider this morning near the back door on the inside of the house here in east central Florida. It has me squirming and freaking out, especially because it ran away and hid and is still somewhere in the house. Please, for my peace of mind, what is that thing?
This Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria, is also known as a Banana Spider because it is believed to have been introduced to many worldwide seaport areas with warm climates from Asia with banana shipments. The species is now well documented in Florida and Georgia according to BugGuide. The Huntsman Spider is harmless and is a tolerated species in many parts of the world because it is a nocturnal hunter that feeds on cockroaches.