Huntsman spiders, members of the family Sparassidae (formerly Heteropodidae), are known by this name because of their speed and mode of hunting, relying on pursuing prey rather than capturing it in a web. They are also called giant crab spiders because of their size and appearance. Larger species sometimes are referred to as wood spiders, because of their preference for woody places (forests, mine shafts, woodpiles, wooden shacks).
In southern Africa the genus Palystes are known as rain spiders or lizard-eating spiders. Commonly, they are confused with baboon spiders from the Mygalomorphae infraorder, which are not closely related. More than a thousand Sparassidae species occur in most warm temperate to tropical regions of the world, including much of Australasia, Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean Basin, and the Americas.
The female huntsman spider makes a godo mother. She will lay all 200 of her eggs inside a disc-shaped egg-sac which she places behind bark or under a rock (see photo taken in our garden). While the babies are developing she will stand guard to protect them day and night for three weeks without even eating. When the babies are ready to hatch, some huntsman mothers will moisten the sack that’s covering them and help tear it open. She can be a bit touchy when she’s looking after her babies. You may see her rear up to scare away any predators nearby.
Some Huntsman species live quite socially in groups of up to 300. They will help raise children together and even share food. Don’t be alarmed by their hunting behaviour, because their venom won’t hurt humans and they’re very scared of us. A huntsman bite in humans will not require medical treatment. They are beneficial in the home and garden as they will hunt and eat many harmful creepy-crawlies.
This post is part of the Saturday Critters meme