Huntsman spiders are commonly encountered in all sorts of situations – gardens, houses, and even under the sun visor of your car! The reason you tend to find a huntsman rather than a Red-back spider walking around inside your car can be explained by how they catch their prey.
Generally, the ways spiders catch their prey divides them into two categories: web-builders and vagrant hunters. A web-builder spins a web, then sits in or near the web and waits for the prey to come to them. A vagrant hunter such as a hunstman does not use a web to catch its prey; instead it roams, stalks and runs down its prey. The wandering habit of hunting spiders is the reason you are more likely to find them indoors.
There are three groups of huntsman spiders in Victoria. They all have the following characteristic, which distinguishes them from other spiders: the front two pairs of legs are noticeably longer than the back or hind two pairs of legs.
The front two pairs of legs of a huntsman spider are much longer the rear two pairs.Artist: Graham Milledge / Source: Museum Victoria
This is not something you would need to measure. The difference in leg lengths is very obvious.
These brown or grey huntsmen are the ones most commonly found in houses, where they hunt at night on walls and ceilings. They also occasionally enter vehicles, causing much alarm. In the bush, Holconia species can be found sheltering during the day beneath the loose bark of eucalypts. They are large spiders and, when alarmed, are capable of moving sideways very rapidly. Food consists of insects and other invertebrates.
Huntsman spider, Holconia montanaPhotographer: Alan Henderson / Source: Museum Victoria
Their flat, oval egg sac is constructed of white papery silk. It is most commonly deposited beneath the bark of trees. The lifespan of these spiders is about two years.
These spiders are usually orange or pink, and have a distinct dark mark on their abdomen. They are active at night and occasionally come into houses, but less frequently than other huntsman spiders. Outside they can be found hunting for prey on the trunks of trees or in foliage. During the day they shelter beneath the bark of trees, where they may build a silken retreat for moulting and egg laying. Some species of Neosparassus build a silken retreat in foliage by gluing several leaves together, and others construct shallow burrows.
Badge Huntsman Spider, Neosparassus dianaPhotographer: Alan Henderson / Source: Museum Victoria
Their flattened circular egg sac is guarded by the female. During this period she can be quite aggressive and will rear up in a defensive display if provoked. Young Neosparassus are often green in colour.
This huntsman is the largest of the huntsman spiders, measuring 35 mm or more in body length. It is a very flat spider with a dark orange head and black fangs. It is not often found indoors, but it is common under pieces of flat metal sheets, fibro-cement or roof tiles left lying around in the backyard. In the bush, it can be found if you peel back loose bark on eucalypt trees. Sometimes hundreds of individuals of this species may be found living together under the loose bark of trees and within logs. They feed on insects and other invertebrates.
The female lays the eggs in a flattened circular egg sac constructed of papery white silk. Once the young hatch, they do not disperse as with other species of huntsmen, but remain and grow within the colony. Communal huntsmen usually live for one or two seasons.
Social Huntsman Spider, Delena canceridesPhotographer: Alan Henderson / Source: Museum Victoria
Huntsman spiders are timid spiders and bites are infrequent. Symptoms are usually minor, including local pain and swelling. Some Neosparassus species can give a painful bite.
Brunnet, B. 1994. The Silken Web – A Natural History of Australian Spiders. Reed Books: Melbourne.
Lindsey, T. 1998. Spiders of Australia. New Holland Publishers: Sydney.
Walker, K. L., Yen, A. L. and Milledge, G. A. 2003. Spiders and Scorpions commonly found in Victoria. Royal Society of Victoria: Melbourne.
Hi Vicky and thanks for your question. Your bright orange huntsmans sound to me like what are commonly called badge huntsmans. These spiders are mentioned in the information sheet that you have commented on however I have also seen badge huntsmans much more orange in colour than the image we have on our information sheet.
There are a number of different species of huntsman spiders and some of them do have a white patterning on their legs. If you still have the image the Museum offers a free identification service. You are welcome to e-mail the picture to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can confirm if it is a huntsman and try and put a species name to it.
Hi thanks for your enquiry. Normally we do need an image or the specimen itself to do an identification. But we have passed this on to our entomology team for their opinion. We'll get back to you as soon as possible
Hi again Nicholas. As suspected our entomologists are unable to provide an identification without the specimen or an image. There are a number of species that are similar so it's hard without an image. Meanwhile, our Victorian Huntsman infosheet and Victorian Spiders website may possibly help you out.
The 'badge' on badge huntsmans is located on the underside, (or ventral surface) of the abdomen and so can be hard to see unless the spider is sitting on glass. Please feel free to take some images of the spider and e-mail them to email@example.com and we will attempt to identify the spider for you.
Hi Trish, our Live Exhibits team are interested in seeing your photograph to help explain this interesting behaviour.
Hi Trish. The response from Live Exhibits is as follows: What you have witnessed is huntsman courtship (and possibly) mating. The male must firstly introduce himself as a mate (not food) through a series of bodily shudders and vibrations, which culminate in him tapping and caressing her. If successful, he will then proceed to mate by leaning underneath her abdomen and engaging his feelers (palps). The bulbs at the end of his palps are where he stores his sperm. He may mate for quite some time, swapping sides intermittently.
Prepare for the pitter patter of many little feet!
Please feel free to take some digital images of the spider and e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try and confirm for you if you have a badge huntsman or a different species.
I would be surprised if the same huntsman keeps climbing from the ground back to your appartment each time, but it is possible. The important thing to remember is that whether the spider is the same one or whether your appartment block has a few that the spiders are not at all interested in you or biting you. They do not make webs and sit in them waiting for food but actively hunt for their food, which on occasion brings them into our homes. It is very hard to keep spiders out, but making sure fly wire on windows is well fitted and any obvious gaps under doors and windows are blocked will help a bit. Good on you for trying your best to continue to put the spiders outside. Just make sure you are very careful doing this as the spiders don't know your good intentions and may be alarmed at being trapped.
if the spider is still around please feel free to take an image of the spider and e-mail it to email@example.com and we will try and identify it for you.
If you have access to a digital camera please feel free to try and safely take some images of the spider and e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try and identify them for you. In terms of risk to the baby, no spiders feed on people and bites usually occur when people try to kill the spiders or if they accidentally stand or lie on one. As far as I know for Tasmania the only spider considered highly dangerous is the Redback which most people can identify. You may want to contact the Tasmanian Museum as well to see if they have any information.
Our Live Exhibits staff are not aware of any particular scent that repels these spiders, Julie, although it's likely that such scents exist as they are very sensitive animals. It may be that the only option for your car is to utilise a surface spray around possible entry points? We'd hate for you to have an accident. Hope this helps.
Hi Janet, we have asked our Live Exhibits Team and they have suggested that the spiderlings will disperse fairly quickly. If you do chose to relocate them, chose somewhere with some shelter, but rest assured, they can survive in the rain!
Razza - no, these spiders do not come in groups of threes. In fact, the vast majority of huntsman spiders are solitary animals, and keep to themselves. The exception to this is the Social Huntsman. They will breed up into large groups which shelter together under the loose bark of acacia and eucalypt trees. Although they shelter together, they still tend to wander around individually.
Hi Cath, we think it would take about 3 or 4 months, depending on how much food it gets. Their development is reasonably slow over cooler months, particularly if food is scarce.
Hi John. See some of the comments above for general advice about keeping spiders away from lived-in areas. Also bear in mind that spiderlings tend to disperse quite quickly. However, if you need to remove them immediately, you might need to vacuum them up!
Hi Stacey, if you can safely collect one of the spiders, place it in the freezer overnight to humanely kill it, put it in a container such as a pill jar and post it to Discovery Centre PO Box 666 Melbourne 3001, we will happily look at it for you and let you know if it is a juvenile huntsman. No spiders feed on people or seek them out to bite but if you step on a spider or if one is trapped in your clothing and being squashed it may bite.
Hi Greg, the Museum does have a free identification service. If you can safely obtain some images of the spiders please feel free to e-mail them to email@example.com and we will try and have them identified for you.
Hi Rebecca, huntsman spiders usually come inside looking for food. They do not build a web and wait for their prey to come to them, but rather hunt for it as their name suggests. Try not to be too alarmed at their presence, they have no interest in people. It is likely that they are also in other peoples' units, but you could try to minimise their numbers in your unit by making sure no vegetation is touching your windows or walls and try to find and block any gaps around windows and doors.
Hi Nerissa, I'm glad you and the kids are getting along well with your lodger. To be able to sex your spider you really need to be able to get quite close to the spider. Please see our information click here on how to determine if the spider is a boy or girl. Your spider may be quite mobile during the night searching for food and is probably helping keep your household insects under control while you sleep. If the spider is female and she has an egg sac the majority of these spiders upon hatching would leave the house as there is likely to be more food outside than inside.
Hi Kate, from your description the spiders are most likely what are commonly called huntsmans. This term applies to a large number of species ranging in colour from orange to grey. These spiders are not considered highly dangerous and are unlikely to bite unless you step on one or handle one and they feel threatened.
Hi Laura, huntsmans are common in most houses throughout Spring and become more common in Summer, when young ones start to appear. Huntsmans don’t build a nest – instead a female will produce an egg sac, generally wait until the eggs have hatched, then abandon the young spiders to their own devices. You can rest assured that 99% of these young spiders will die of natural causes before reaching adulthood. So the appearance of young spiders is a natural occurrence at this time of year and may or may not have anything to do with the adult spider you removed.
If you don’t mind living with huntsmans, the best thing to do is let the majority of them disperse and enjoy the company of the few that remain. Alternatively, you can catch them as you find them to be taken outside (like the original spider), but you don’t need to worry about being overrun with huntsmans if you leave them in place.
Hi Terri, the young huntsmans will begin leaving the female over the next few weeks, it is quite common for young spiders to stay close to the egg sac for the first little while. They have energy reserves in their bodies already so they don’t start getting hungry for a while. Once those energy reserves are used up they will disperse away from one another and catch small invertebrates like flies to feed on.
Hi Sacha, Lots of questions about your spider. Let’s see how many we can answer! It is quite common for Huntsman to return to the same resting place during the day, especially if it is a protected private spot like a disused letter box. Spiders have fine hairs all over their body that can detect the slightest movement around them. They are very good at keeping out of each other’s way and if they do ‘stumble’ across one another it is normally a big run to escape from each other – unless it is for mating purposes in which case they will caress each other to make their intentions known.
Once huntsmen emerge from their egg sac they will disperse away from one another (unless they are social huntmen). If they find a position that is suitable – plenty of food and shelter it is quite likely that they will choose to stay there until their food supply runs out. If huntsman spiders roam, what distance do they typically travel. Do they stay in a general area or move continually? This is a question that I can’t answer. I’m sure some spiders roam widely – some even hitch rides in cars!
It is quite common for people to mention a spider that has been hanging around in a certain place of an extended period of time. When the spider moults it is very soft and a cream colour. The process to moult does not take all that long as spiders are very vulnerable while they are hanging and removing their old exoskeleton. For the next day or two the spider sits quietly and allows its new exoskeleton to harden. When they are young, spiders moult quite often. If there is lots of food around then the spider eats rapidly and grows out of its old exoskeleton. As they get older the rate of moulting decreases.
Hi Rebecca - huntsmans live under bark and have flattened bodies, they are able to squeeze throughcracks and get into your house. They do this nocturnally. There are a number of traditional remedies to keep them out, including lemon oil – I’ve never known them to work but there’s no harm trying.
Huntsman populations vary from place to place and year to year. In bushy suburbs they will be more common and during warm wet summers their populations will also increase. This summer is a particularly good one, as the rain has brought out flushes of new growth on plants, which has boosted the insect numbers, which in turn has meant a massive increase in spiders, including huntsmans.
Huntsmans have adapted well to living inside houses. Without sealing all external cracks, removing foliage from around eaves and sealing all doors and windows, I’m afraid there’s not much else you can do but to live with them. They will treat you when stationary as part of the furniture, so there is a chance they will crawl on you. Huntsmans also have the bad habit of dropping on people’s heads who walk underneath them, which I suspect is part of their evolutionary adaptation to spreading the species around (they are just hitchhiking in this case).
The good news is that huntsmans generally are very reluctant to bite (I’ve inadvertently walked around all day with one inside my boot and was not bitten, for example) and the bite is no worse than a bee sting.
One reason huntsmans are so at home in our homes is their ability to squeeze through the smallest gaps with their flat legs and bodies, and this also enables them to hide away in places where airborne insecticides can’t reach them. The other option is a more residual, more penetrating insecticide but these are considered more harmful to the human inhabitants than the spiders are. And when the insecticides wear off, the huntsmans will just reinvade. The other type, the ‘electric repellent’ you mentioned, has no effect on spiders at all.
Some people use natural remedies such as lemon oil but these generally don’t do a sufficient job for most people’s satisfaction, if they work at all. The best way is to block the spiders’ entry points (around doors and windows, and particularly from foliage touching the house’s eaves), learn to love them even more, and things might return to normal next year.
Hi Hal, hunstmans, like all spiders, do indeed produce threads which they lay down at regular intervals as a safety line in case they lose their footing. When this happens, the spider will dangle from the thread and climb back up to safety. Similar to the way rock climbers attach ropes to the cliff face, so that if they fall it is not too far.
Additionally, huntsmans moult out of their old skins by hanging from a thread, and these empty skins are often seen dangling from these threads for months afterwards, usually under the roof of a shed or empty cupboard. Because huntsmans don’t build a web to catch prey, their silk is not so obvious, but for all the other reasons spiders use silk (mating, producing an egg sac, safety line etc), huntsmans use it too.
Hi Karra, huntsmen dropping legs is not generally a sign of starvation, more commonly a sign of old age or aggression from other animals in the house. Here at the Museum we keep lots of huntsmen in captivity and one of the first things for them to do before dying of old age is to lose all the fine delicate hairs on their backs and then drop a leg or two.
Hi Jordan, it is possible that the huntsman you keep on finding is the same specimen. There is an even greater likelihood if the only shelter in the paddock is the shed. It will head towards somewhere it can hide away – it certainly does not want to be caught out exposed to predators in the open space. To get rid of it from the shed the best thing you can do is find it a place that provides the same type of shelter that the shed does – under the bark of a tree is often a good place to leave him.
Hi Victoria, I have spoken with the Entomologist and he has advised that there are a few things you can do to deter spiders from coming in, but unfortunately, you cannot spider proof your home! Go outside and make sure there is no foliage coming into contact with the house, and block up any visible holes around windows and doors. You should also remember that they are not interested in you, they are coming inside looking for food and shelter.
Hi Audrey! The number of eggs produced by Huntsmans depends on which Huntsman species you have, but the more common species will produce 150-200 eggs. The good news for you, but not for the Huntsmans, is that they have a 99% mortality rate before reaching adulthood. So out of the 200 (at most) that emerge from the egg sac, only about 2 will survive and reproduce. These 2 replace their parents, which keeps the population relatively stable over time.
There are many nooks and crannies around the average house into which huntsman spiderlings can disappear. With holes in the wood panelling there are even more escape routes and there's probably not much benefit in trying to track them all down. The best thing is to let them be and let nature remove the great majority of spiderlings.
Hi John, Huntsman spiders tend to mate in the warmer months of the year when they themselves are more active. There is very little evidence to know if spiders have mated. Generally they will join together for a few minutes to up to an hour while the male transfers a sperm package into the female. Once that is completed you often only know that it was successful by the female putting on condition and her abdomen enlarging. You often find females sitting with egg sacs this time of the year – or earlier.
Hi Natasha, your female spider has chosen to lay her egg sac within your bedroom. She must think that it is fairly good conditions to incubate those eggs. As long as you stop any chemicals such as pesticides from being sprayed near her she should quite happily sit and do her thing. If you do feel you need to relocate her to a place away from the house. You need to carefully disconnect the silk threads connecting her egg sac to the wall and transfer her and her eggs to a dry secluded spot. Good luck.
Hello Astrid! Our entomologist says that this is most likely to be a Pseudoscorpion, which are often found under bark or in leaf litter. They eat even smaller invertebrates (see Melbourne's Wildlife for more information). They're not normally found inside, but might have been brought in on another larger invertebrate, as they hitch rides, or perhaps on some plant material.
Female huntsmans mature at about eight months of age and then mate with a male, generally a couple of weeks after maturing. She will then produce a flat, oval egg sac containing up to 200 eggs, and stand guard continually over it for about three weeks. When the eggs hatch, depending on the species of huntsman, she will often continue to guard them until they disperse.
Females produce egg sacs during summer and, although the records are not readily available, there appears to be a maximum of two egg sacs per summer. The timing of the egg sacs is determined by when she mates (depending on availability of suitable males), how long the eggs take to develop, and whether she gets the opportunity to produce a second egg sac (both of which depend on environmental conditions).
As females can live for two years, they have the potential to produce another two eggs in the second year.
So to summarise, our experience suggests that a female huntsman can produce up to four egg sacs, mainly during the summer months, but the timing is dependent on a number of environmental factors.
Hi Anthony, you can send images to the Discovery Centre, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Courtney, Museum Victoria offers a free identification service, but in order for the entomologist to make an accurate identification, a clear image is required You can send images to the Discovery Centre via the Ask the Experts page.
Hi Joe, All Australian spiders are venomous - that is, all Australian spiders produce venom to assist them to kill and digest their prey. Only a small proportion of spiders have venom that is strong enough to make a human sick. No spiders prey on humans; their first response is to run away from you. People are only bitten when a spider feels threatened. If you wear gloves while gardening and moving items outside, it's highly unlikely that you will be bitten.
Museum Victoria has a free identification service. We would be very happy to identify your spiders for you.
The answer to your question depends on the species of huntsman. Some species lay their eggs into a silken egg sac that is either attached to a rock or tree root inside a brood chamber. Some species carry or attach the egg sac beneath their body when moving about. When the spiderlings emerge from the egg sac, they may swarm over the female huntsman’s body, but she does not carry them around on or in its body.
Museum Victoria does not provide eradication advice. Although keeping an area free of spiders is difficult; there are many precautions that can be taken to avoid bites. Avoid walking outside with bare feet, especially at night. When gardening, wear shoes, long trousers and thick gloves to guard against any spiders.
This link from the Australian Museum will provide you with some tips to minimise spider numbers in the home and garden.
Charlie - it isn't possible for an identification to be made from you description - we would need to see the specimen itself, or at least a clear photograph of it. You can find out more about our identification services here, or you might want to try to identify what you saw using our Victorian Spiders website here.
Hope this helps
Huntsman spiders can indeed produce silk thread, in order to move around, however they do not create an actual web. So it is quite plausible that they are creating the silk threads in your car. If what is on your steering wheel and windscreen is in a distinct web formation, a different spider may be creating these.
Hi Andy, Before we can advise you about the eggs on your clothes line, we would need to identify them. Museum Victoria has a free Identification Service. You can either send us some photos of the eggs via our Ask the Experts form, or bring them into the Melbourne Museum Discovery Centre.
Hi Michael,Museum Victoria's Live Exhibits team provided us with the following information that may assist you:
Like many insects and spiders, huntsmans can store enough sperm from a single mating to last them the rest of their lives. Most insects and spiders that do this tend to mate with multiple partners so they have a mixture of genes in the stored sperm, but queen termites, for example, may mate once and have enough sperm to produce tens of millions of offspring over the next 20 years.
Your female ate tonnes of crickets in between because she was building up sufficient protein to produce further egg sacs, and will continue to do this until she dies.
Thanks for your comment. We have received your email with a photograph of the huntsman you wish to identify, which we will forward to Museum Victoria's entomologists for assistance.
Yes the Huntsman spider will eat other insects including invertebrates and Daddy long-leg spiders (Pholcus phalangioides). I guess it just depends on how hungry he is! Further information on Daddy long legs can be found here
Hi, Hello (25th of February)!We forwarded your enquiry to Museum Victoria’s Live Exhibits team, our animal keepers, who responded with the following information:
Huntsmans can move considerable distances when they feel the urge, particularly if they find themselves in an unsuitable location. Your bedroom appears to be a suitable location so when taken outside a huntsman will have no hesitation returning inside via the same route it originally used. Another possible explanation is that when you remove a huntsman, another takes its place. They are at their largest size at this time of year, and often look very similar to each other. The only way to be sure is to place a small spot of non-toxic paint on its abdomen when you capture it. If a painted huntsman reappears, you'll know it's the same one.
Hi Michele, The Huntsman has moved inside the house to seek food and the fact that it's still around suggests there is a sufficient supply of food there. If food runs short, the huntsman will move to a different location, most likely outside, and you probably won't see it again.
So it doesn't need to be fed, but if you were to feed it then crickets and moths would be the most suitable diet (and there are plenty of both around at the moment, but not for too much longer). Huntsmans respond to movement so your spider is most likely to take living specimens.
If you want to use a Museum Victoria image you will need to locate the image you want to use from our website and then submit your image request here. When submitting your request please provide a link to the image you wish to use. Please read through our image request guidelines prior to submitting your request.
It is impossible for us to tell if you have killed the spider. The important thing to remember is that they have no interest in people and do not seek us out and they have no interest in you or biting you. To deter the spiders from your car you could try making sure any obvious gaps under doors, windows etc are blocked and minimise the amount of vegetation in your car. If your fear reaches the level where it is impacting on your quality of life you may want to chat to your doctor about attending some sort of desensitisation course to manage the fear, Melbourne Zoo used to run these, you can contact them here.
Hi Selina, There are several reasons why huntsmans drop or lose their legs. They may be pulled off by predators, or self-amputated (autotomised) by the huntsman itself to allow it to escape from a predator. Perhaps your spider is having regular near misses with a predator of some kind.
Legs may also be lost during the moulting process, particularly if the environment is too dry, and the legs fail to emerge from the old skin properly. Loss of legs may also be a sign of old age or extremely poor health.
Your spider may be ok - we've seen huntsmans in the wild that have lost all their legs from one side of the body and these individuals can often move almost as fast as they would with the full complement of legs using the palp (a small appendage near the mouth) as a substitute.
Hi Allie, thanks for the question. We have contacted the Live Exhibits Team with the details of your enquiry, and they have advised that in most cases when an insect or spider is found in a package sent from overseas, it turns out the creature entered the package after it arrived in the country of destination, and so is not a cause for concern! We have sent you come further information and details via email.
Spiders usually lose strength and condition towards the end of their lives and may not be able to reach the heights they did earlier in life. Orbweavers will die at the edge of the web or, more commonly, hanging from a thread in the middle of the web. The behaviour you observed is typical of a spider nearing the end of its life. In both cases it sounds like your spiders had fulfilling lives and you should be pleased with your care of them.
Hi Laurence, there are a couple of thousand different types of spiders in Australia and without a photo it's difficult to determine what it would be. But here are some options.
There is a family of spiders called Jumping Spiders but these tend to be small (the largest are less than 1cm long). Some huntsmans will jump when being chased and can move with remarkable speed, but they are usually flat-bodied and unmistakenly huntsman-like. A subgroup of huntsmans called Badge Spiders are not particularly flat but are usually coloured yellow or orange.
Wolf Spider are a ground-dwelling family that also move with speed but they are not known to jump. Wolf spiders are round-bodied and do superficially resemble small mice.
There is also a spider species called the Mouse Spider (Missulena bradleyi), which is very mouse-like but is large and black and also does not jump. Trapdoor spiders sometimes enter houses and fit the physical description but again do not jump.
You can search the Museum's website for the common names of the spiders listed above and see if any match the physical description, but your description of the spider's behaviour does not match any species we're aware of.
Hi Tanya, check out the answers above, particularly the comment from the Discovery Centre dated March 13th 2011.
Hi Sarah, it is possible to have more than one species of huntsman in your home. You have been unlucky in terms of bites, we get large numbers of enquiries regarding these spiders and very few bites are reported to us. Spiders do not seek us out to bite so unless you grab one or stand on one they generally move out of the way. They can be hard to keep out of the house as they can flatten themselves and get through some quite small cracks and crevices.
Try to make sure that there are no obvious cracks around your windows and doors; also that flywire on windows isn't loose or doesn't have any holes in it. Having said that if the spiders do want to come inside looking for insects to eat they can usually find a way, the best you can hope for is to minimise their numbers. The Australian Museum has some information on how to minimise spider numbers in the home and garden.
Six to eight badge huntsmans per night does sound like quite a lot, if you can safely get some good quality images feel free to send them to email@example.com we can have a look and just confirm that is what you are getting.
There is no record of male huntsmans physically fighting over females. Many male spiders will have showdowns with other males that don't involve physical combat, rather it's a competition over size or strength or the best display. However, huntsmans have a wide range of prey that includes any moving animal within a certain size range, and when other huntsmans fit that criteria they become potential prey themselves. So the spiders with missing limbs may have had close calls with larger huntsmans, both males and females.
The dried-up spiderlings are in fact, as you suggested, empty skins. Spiderlings moult as soon as they leave the egg sac and generally disperse by ballooning on a thread of silk. They naturally have a survival rate of less than one percent, so don't expect too many to be present for too long. If there are enough insects to enable the larger huntsmans to live long term inside your house, there will also be plenty of tiny insects to feed the spiderlings.
Hunstman venom can only be injected through a bite from the fangs, not ingested through the stomach. Even then, the bite is generally no worse than a bee sting. Eating a huntsman is no different in this case than eating any other small creature, such as an insect.
Hi Amy, huntsmans don't appear to produce trophic eggs like other spider groups do (infertile eggs that the spiderlings feed on within the egg sac), and in many species the spiderlings can't emerge from the egg sac unless it's opened by the mother's fangs. If kept in a group, huntsman spiderlings very quickly become cannibalistic and so can survive for a considerable time on this diet, albeit with a dwindling population.
Given the propensity of spiders in general to go long periods without food, I'd hazard a guess at a minimum of 1-2 weeks as long as humidity is sufficient. The other tip is to park your car in the full sun with the windows wound up when we get some hot days. As the temperature inside increases rapdily this can encourage any spiderlings still present to move out.
Immediately after moulting, the exoskeleton of the spider is very soft and pale, and it darkens as it hardens which may explain the change in colour. Also, juvenile spiders sometimes have a different pattern or colour scheme to the adults, so this slowly changes with each moult.
Huntsmans will eat White-tailed Spiders but both species are relatively harmless. The bite of a huntsman is generally no worse than a bee sting, and that of a White-tailed Spider not much worse than that.
Huntsmans are common in all parts of a house, including the bedroom and even the bed. Like it or not, spiders will walk across all surfaces in the house searching for prey, and this may on very rare occasions include a sleeping human. So it's no surprise that they end up in the bed occasionally, and there's nothing we can do about this.
Spiders don't have an internal skeleton so their legs are operated by hydrostatic pressure - when the spider dies it cannot maintain that pressure and the legs curl up. This happens when a spider dies of any cause, and in your case the spider may have died for any number of reasons, including old age.
Huntsmans are excellent jumpers, both up, down and sideways. We’ve seen them actively drop vertically at least 2m, and jump sideways from walls at least 50cm. Whenever they leap, they leave behind a silken safety line which they anchor onto the original surface.
Huntsmans don’t have particularly good eyesight but they are sensitive to shapes and movement, so a passing moth would be irresistible to a waiting spider.
There is no evidence that huntsmans are attracted to CO2, and no reason for them to be attracted. Huntsmans are one of the few spiders that do well inside the dry environment of a house, and they like to hide in small dark spaces, which include bedclothes and other things found around the bedroom, so this is the more probable reason that huntsmans quite often occur in and around the bed. Mosquitoes would be a poor substitute for all the moths, cockroaches, crickets and other items of prey that inhabit the average home.
Harry is probably the most common name for huntmans because of its iterative nature (repetition of the first letter).
Hi Zoe - we checked with our Live Exhibits team, and their reply is as follows:
Spiders generally have poor eyesight, but that of huntsmans is better than most as they rely on their vision to capture prey and avoid predators (most spiders rely on their webs to catch prey). Their eyesight and mental capacity is nowhere near the ability to recognise individual humans, but there may be something about the room mate that triggers a response in the spider. Some huntsmans seem to unexpectedly leap onto passing humans, possibly as an adaptation to travel from one place to another as 'hitch-hikers'. This may have worked well throughout their evolutionary history when a large spider leaping onto a passing mammal went unnoticed by the host, but most humans don't react well to the event. Huntsmans would only see passing a passing human as a dark amorphous mass, but other than this possibility we are unsure how to explain the phenomenon you describe.
Some spiders are able to hiss loudly using ‘stridulatory organs’. These are usually associated with the legs and fangs and are scraped against each other to make a loud hissing noise. Australian Tarantulas are also called Barking Spiders or Whistling Spiders due to their sound-making abilities. Other spiders make percussive sounds by tapping their legs or pedipalps against the substrate (often a leaf), and there is some evidence that certain huntsman species can make a low-frequency noise by vibrating their legs. However, there is no evidence that Australian huntsman species are able to make a hissing noise, especially a noise that can be heard some distance away. Although some people swear that huntsmans hiss when provoked, as yet there is no conclusive evidence that they have the ability to do so.
The event you witnessed may have been Bruce moulting. Huntsmans shed their skins to allow room for growth, and do so at night by attaching themselves to a ceiling or other horizontal surface, dropping down on a short strand of silk, and slowly emerging from the old skin. This process can take more than an hour and appear like two spiders attached to each other. When the new skin is dry, the huntsman departs leaving behind the empty skin. If this is not the case here, then it could be an example of cannibalism – huntsmans will catch and consume any prey of appropriate size, which definitely includes other huntsmans. But the most likely explanation is that Bruce was moulting.
Female huntsmans protect the egg sac until the spiderlings are ready to emerge and can become very defensive when approached, so it’s not a good idea to try to take the egg sac away. In many species the spiderlings cannot emerge from the sac without the female tearing an opening for them, and if she’s not there they’ll die inside the sac. So it’s best to leave them with her until the spiderlings are ready to disperse on their own.
The spiderlings will eat each other if they are hungry or if they aren’t able to avoid each other. You could feed them sufficient food to keep them from cannibalising, and give them plenty of hiding places, but inevitably huntsman spiderlings will eat each other if they aren’t able to disperse. The only way to guarantee the right number of spiderlings is to separate them early on in individual enclosures. They will eat both fruit flies and pinhead crickets.
Hi Samantha,Huntsmans are one of the few spiders that do well inside human dwellings. They are protected from extremes of weather and from predators, and there is a surprisingly wide range of insect prey available inside the average home. This time of year huntsmans are at their largest and most common, and therefore most noticeable. There’s no such thing as an infestation, just favourable circumstances that might attract them inside. As the weather starts to cool you should notice the number decreasing significantly.
An injured huntsman may or may not recover depending on the extent of the injuries. A damaged or severed leg will generally heal as the nearest joint closes over and the bleeding edge naturally seals. A more severe injury to the abdomen (the back half of the spider) or cephalothorax (the front half of the spider) may heal in time, but is more likely to lead to the death of the spider than an injury to one of its appendages. People who keep spiders as pets have been able to successfully seal puncture wounds on the body with superglue or other similar adhesives, preventing the loss of too much haemolymph (blood). Like all spiders, huntsmans need moisture regularly but don’t drink free water – a water-soaked cotton bud is usually enough for them. Spiders are adapted to unpredictable availability of prey, and so can go many weeks without food. Daddy Longlegs (Pholcus phalangioides) do prey on huntsmans, but they will only take the smallest specimens in the first couple of instars.
Hi Darren, for most huntsman species the female is required to be present when the eggs hatch, so she can let them out of the tough egg sac. She opens the egg sac with her fangs, and without her present they will generally die within the silken sac. So the mother may have opened the egg sac before being dispatched, with the young now old enough to disperse, or she may still be around as the second huntsman. Huntsmans are pre-adapted to living inside houses, so the young should have no problem feeding on the many small insects present inside the average house. If there is not enough prey available they will simply move outside.
Most Hunstman species live naturally in and around trees, particularly under bark. So if you’re able to catch the spider it would be best to release it into the nearest park or area of natural bushland where there are normally plenty of available niches. There are many nooks and crannies in cars where huntsmans like to hide, as well as plenty of insect prey, which is what attracts huntsmans in the first place. Good luck and well done for thinking of the huntsman’s welfare.
The incubation period for Holconia huntsmans is probably around three weeks, but it varies so much between species and depending on climatic conditions that no-one is really sure. The mother becomes extremely protective of her egg sac during this period and will bite much more readily than at other times. The spiderlings hatch from the eggs but remain inside the egg sac for some time, absorbing their own egg yolk and occasionally feeding on each other, until the mother tears open the sac to let them out. The female chose the letterbox as her incubation space (this is very common) so you can assume there’s plenty of food already in there. Once the spiderlings emerge, they will stay with the mother for some time then disperse to feed on all the millions of tiny insects found around shrubs and long grass. Of the 200 or so that may emerge, on average only two will make it to adulthood and breed, so the individual success rate is not great.
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