Heteropoda venatoria, or the “pantropical huntsman spider,” as it is more commonly known, is a large non-native spider species that has become well established in Texas, Florida, California, and various coastal areas in the southeast. This spider is quite large in size at nearly 1 inch in length and between 4 and 5 inches in leg span. The pantropical jumping spider is thought to have originated from Asia, but experts believe that this species arrived in the US by hitching a ride on banana shipments imported from South America where the species has become established. This is why the spider is sometimes referred to as the “banana spider.” This spider is also referred to as the “giant crab spider,” which derives from this species’ habit of crawling sideways and backwards like a crab.
While pantropical huntsman spiders are not considered dangerous to humans, they can be somewhat aggressive and they will not hesitate to inflict bites when mishandled or threatened. These bites are reported as being excessively painful due to the species’ relatively large fangs, and they have become one of the most frequently encountered spiders in homes in southern and central Texas where many citizen scientists have posted pictures of the huge arachnids online after encountering them indoors. In fact, according to an online survey of pictured spider sightings, of the 86 documented pantropical huntsman spider sightings, 65 occurred within homes, while most of the remaining sightings occurred near homes.
The pantropical hunting spider is not generally considered a medically significant spider species, but bites have been known to induce lasting wounds, and even systemic symptoms, such as nausea, fever, hypertension and vomiting. Both males and females of this species are light to dark brown in color with dark spots on their legs. Females possess larger abdomens than males, but males possess longer legs, with some reaching an astonishing 8 inches in leg span. Pantropical huntsman spiders are commonly mistaken for large brown recluse spiders due to their similar body colors and tendency to wander into homes.
Have you ever encountered what you believe was a brown recluse spider?