There are five types of Huntsman spiders. The Common, Banded, Badge or Shield, Tropical or Brown and Flat Huntsman.
They are found all over Australia in rock crevices, under bark, rocks, logs and as with some species, in burrows both with and without trapdoors. Social Huntsman species can often be found in groups under bark on dead trees and stumps. Huntsman spiders of all species often enter houses and cars where they like to find places to hide such as behind sun visors.
What do they look like?
- Huntsman spider are large (often up to 15cm across) with long legs.
- The body colouring is drab grey or brown, sometimes with banded legs.
- Some species have legs that extend forwards in a crab-like fashion and flat bodies, all to help them fit into narrow spaces.
- The Brown and Badge species do not have flat bodies and the Badge Huntsman had a body length of up to 2cm.
- Huntsman spider mostly eat insects and other invertebrates.
- Huntsman spider have elaborate mating rituals but unlike some types of spiders, the male is safe from attack by the female. Large groups of males and females often live together.
- The female spider builds a silken retreat in foliage, moves into an abandoned cicada burrow, or builds a burrow into which she will place her egg sac. One species carries her egg sac under her body.
- The female spider lays approximately 200 eggs which she places into a partly formed egg sac she has already attached to a silken ground sheet. The ground sheet is then used to complete the egg sac.
- The female spider places the sac in her ready prepared spot and stands guard until the spiderlings hatch. During this time she does not eat, often becoming very aggressive.
- The female spider will in some cases tear the egg sac in order to help the young spiderlings emerge.
- Once the spiderlings hatch, the mother remains with them for several weeks. Spiderlings are pale brown or green in colour.
- Huntsman spiders live for up to 2 years, moulting several times during that period.
Do they bite?
- Huntsman spider can bite, but the symptoms are usually fairly minor, causing only local pain and swelling. However, the Badge Huntsman can give bites that cause prolonged pain, headache, vomiting and an irregular pulse.
- Wash the wound with antiseptic and apply an anaesthetic ointment or ice-pack.
- Seek medical attention should pain persist.
Huntsman spiders have several predators. These include birds, geckoes, and parasitic nematode worms as well as the larva of the wasp and egg parasites of flies.
Always try to catch the spider responsible and keep it for identification purposes.