Friday, October 8, 2010

Haunted Horticulture II - Huntsman Spider

Seeing one of these spiders in your house would be pretty scary, right? The huntsman spider, Heteropoda venatoria, is a spider that does not use webs to ensnare its prey. The huntsman relies on speed, strong mouthparts, and poison injection of their victims. Even scarier right? Only if you are a cockroach! That’s right, this scary looking, rather large arachnid (3-5” leg span!) is actually a helpful predator of cockroaches and other home-invading pests.

The huntsman is a tropical species, and while it is not a native of Florida, our warm climate has allowed them to become established in south Florida and they are seen throughout the southeastern U.S. It has adapted to human environments and is often found in homes or sheds. If you are so inclined you can hunt for the huntsman outside at night as well. If a light is shined on them their eyes reflect that light and look like blue spots in the darkness. Spooky.

Even though it looks pretty intimidating, the huntsman is not a dangerous spider- but it will give a painful bite, so I would refrain from playing with one.

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