Heteropoda venatoria – Pantropical huntsman

Heteropoda venatoria, the pantropical huntsman spider, is a member of the running crab spider family Sparassidae. They are commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions around. This particular species is native to North America and is mostly found in the warmer States along the Gulf Coast as well as in California.

Commonly, they are also called giant crab spiders (not to be confused with the related giant crab spider Olios giganteus) and sometimes banana spiders. The latter name is not inspired by their appearance but because the spiders have been introduced to the United States on banana shipments. Despite their hunting behavior and their size, they are not medically significant spiders and are generally not dangerous for humans.

Quick Overview: Heteropoda venatoria – Pantropical huntsman Medically significant: No
Body size: 2 to 2.5 cm (0.8 to 1 inch) long, including legs 3 to 5 inches (7-12 cm)
Main colors: Brown, Black, Yellowish/Cream
Range: Eastern United States
Web: No Web

Heteropoda venatoria Description

Pantropical huntsman spiders are large, mostly brown and tan spiders with long legs.

Their clypeus (front of the eyes) has a cream or yellowish color while their carapace (behind the eyes) has a wide band which is usually tan in the female and cream-colored in the male. The adult spiders have a flat, brown body and legs.

Male pantropical huntsman spiders are generally fairly easy to identify. They have a very dark, often black cephalothorax (head) with a cream-colored V-shape pointing towards the abdomen:

Range of Huntsman Spider in United States
A male Heteropoda Venatoria with a V-shape on the abdomen. Source: Wikipedia

The female has a slightly larger abdomen than males and is less distinctively colored.

Heteropoda venatoria - Pantropical huntsman in United States
A female pantropical huntsman spider.

Size

Heteropoda Venetoria grows to an average length of 2 to 2.5 cm (0.8 to 1 inch) long, 7 to 12 cm (3 to 5 inches) wide, including the legs.

Web

These spiders do not spin webs like other spiders. They catch their food by actively hunting their prey – as their common name suggests. Huntsman spiders are mostly active at night.

Heteropoda venatoria Spider bite

The bite of a pantropical huntsman spider is not normally dangerous but can be locally painful. These bites sometimes come with noticeable swelling that can last several hours. Due to the size and speed of the spider, bites to humans occur very rarely as the spider will either flee or be recognized due to their size by humans before it can bite.

Heteropoda venatoria Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Arachnida
  • Order: Araneae
  • Infraorder: Araneomorphae
  • Family: Sparassidae
  • Genus: Heteropoda
  • Species: Heteropoda venatoria

Distribution of the pantropical huntsman spider in the USA

The pantropical huntsman spider is an introduced species to the United States but is commonly found in the Southern United States. It is especially common in the Gulf Coast States (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas as well as in California

Heteropoda venatoria – Pantropical huntsman

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