Florida is home to beautiful habitats like wetlands, prairies, and forests. These areas bring a plethora of wildlife to see; one of the most common in the area is spiders. Most spiders you come across in the wild are harmless to humans, but that does not mean they are not feared. Huntsman spiders are one of the most feared spiders in Florida because of their size. This article will cover what huntsman spider lives in Florida and everything to know about them.
Around 1,383 species of Sparassidae, or huntsman spider, live in the world today. Asia houses a majority of species of huntsman spider, but they also inhabit Australia, Africa, and South America. Surprisingly enough, a species of huntsman spider inhabits the tropics of Florida and other similar regions of the US. Here is everything you need to know about the huntsman spider that lives in Florida.
What Huntsman Spider Lives In Florida?
Heteropoda venatoria is a species of huntsman spider that lives in Florida. This spider is one of the largest spiders in Florida, also called the pantropical huntsman. Other names for this species include the giant crab spider, banana spider, and cane spider.
Pantropical huntsman spiders are thought to originate from Asia but now inhabit the tropical regions of Florida. This species is extremely large, with a body size of around 1 inch (2.5 cm). The legs of this species are their largest traits, as they have a leg span between 3 to 5 inches (7.62 to 12.7 cm). The body of this spider is extremely flat, making it capable for them to slide into small crevices and cracks. Females’ bodies are slightly larger than males, but males have longer legs.
The pantropical huntsman is tan or cream-colored. Its cephalothorax is dark brown or black. This spider has a large rounded abdomen, with females being slightly larger. This species is sometimes called the crab spider since its front legs bend and are larger than those in the back. Their leg placement allows them to walk sideways like a crab and gives them an excellent climbing ability.
Where Can Pantropical Huntsman Spiders Be Found?
The pantropical huntsman spider lives within the subtropical regions of South Florida. While it is not a native species, this spider has an established population within Florida and other areas with similar climates like Texas, California, Georgia, and South Carolina. It is not yet known how this spider made its way into the United States, but it is believed to have traveled through shipments of fruits like bananas.
Warm habitats with plenty of food are where pantropical huntsman spiders prefer to live. They are nocturnal and during the day, will hide under debris and vegetation. They do not build webs like other spiders and wander around looking for food. Like a nursery web spider, this species carries its egg sac in its mouth, which drastically hinders its movement. It may also place its sac in a hidden area and guard it. The mother will open the egg sac when ready and stay with the spiderlings until they can fend for themselves.
Man-made structures like barns or sheds are areas this spider may inhabit. The flat body of this spider makes it easy to squeeze under doorways and windowsills. As the temperature cools, spiders may be seen walking on walls or ceilings in homes, going into homes to escape the cold. They are also seen on trees, under stones, and on large rocks.
What Do Huntsman Spiders Eat?
Being so large, the huntsman spider is able to prey on a variety of small animals it comes across. It does not build webs to capture prey but actively hunts, similar to the wolf spider. Even with their size, they can move quickly to take down their prey.
Here are some of the things huntsmans spiders eat:
- Small lizards
- Other spiders
- Small frogs
- Small mammals
- Other arthropods
The huntsman spider spends most of its night looking for food, but it must also be aware of nearby predators in Florida. Birds, mammals, larger lizards like geckos, wasps, and parasites are common predators of this species. These spiders may also be eaten by other large spiders.
Are Huntsman Spiders Dangerous?
Huntsman spiders, like other spiders, use venom to neutralize their prey but are not dangerous to humans. The bite from this species is not dangerous, and their venom only causes mild effects. Since the huntsman spider has large fangs its bite may be painful but is not deadly.
Huntsman spiders in Florida are beneficial and should not be feared. They are very helpful at controlling pest populations of insects like mosquitoes, roaches, and other spiders. The huntsman spider is not a danger to humans but is a threat to the more dangerous species like black widows and recluse spiders. Since the huntsman spider has brown coloring, it is often confused for the dangerous recluse but does not have the violin marking on its back that recluses showcase.
What Other Large Spiders Are Found In Florida?
The huntsman spider is the largest spider in Florida, but there are several other species in the state with substantial size. Other larger spiders you can find in Florida include the Golden Silk orbweaver (3 inches), wolf spider (1 inch), Black and yellow garden spider (1.1 inches), and the fishing spider (.75 inches). Spiders vary in size, with females generally being larger than males.
Like the huntsman spider, most large species are not dangerous and are very beneficial to the environments they live in. Huntsman spiders may not be from Florida, but they are here to stay like several other invasive species that find their way into the state. They thrive in the natural humid habitat Florida provides and are a species you may come across if living in the area.
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