Special Sub-Topic: The Huntsman Spider
|What is the scientific name for the family that the huntsman spider comes from?|
The Sparassidae family. Sorry for this truly awful question! I felt that we needed to get the horrible Latin stuff out the way first so that we could concentrate on the really meaty stuff afterwards!
All huntsman spiders belong to the Sparassidae family. The Sparassidae family used to be known as the Heteropodidae family. As of 2003, there were 13 genera, and 94 known species of huntsman spiders.
|Which of the following descriptions best describes the appearance of the huntsman spider?|
Big and hairy, with beady little black eyes and long, sharp fangs. The huntsman spider has a large, flat, hairy body, with very long legs (the males of some species sometimes have a leg-span of up to 30cm!) Including the legs, they are roughly the size of an adult human's hand. Like most spiders, the huntsman has eight eyes, and in the huntsman's case, they are beady little black ones. The huntsman spider also has large, long, elegant looking fangs.
Basically, it's not something you'd like to have staring down at you in your bathroom (i.e. Yours Truly)!
|The legs of a huntsman spider fan out sideways, and the joints are twisted forward in a crablike fashion.
How is this useful for the spider?|
It means that they can run forwards, as well as sideways. The crablike legs of a huntsman spider enable them to run both forwards and sideways, whereas most spiders have to turn, and then run. This is useful for them, as it means that they can quickly scuttle to safety in any direction.
It's also the appearance of their legs that makes huntsman spiders quickly recognizable - although many people still mistake them for tarantulas.
|Are huntsman spiders web-builders?|
n. Huntsman spiders do not build webs, but rather hunt and forage for their food. They have been observed as being able to stealthily stalk and subsequently ambush their prey, and will then sink their fangs into the prey, killing it with their venom.
|What does the huntsman spider's diet primarily consist of?|
Insects and other invertebrates. Huntsman spiders are carnivorous, and feed mostly on insects and other invertebrates. Sometimes, these spiders will even feed on lizards! Baby huntsman spiders enjoy a diet of very small insects, such as fruit flies and pinhead crickets.
As in most cases, predators become prey. Creatures that might prey on huntsman spiders include birds, geckos, spider wasps, larger spiders, egg parasites and nematode worms.
|Aside from their fondness for human homes, huntsman spiders like to live in a very particular kind of habitat.
Because of this habitat in which they love to live, what type of creatures are huntsman spiders classified as?|
Arboreal creatures. Huntsman spiders are a type of arboreal creature.
"Arboreal" (from the Latin "arbor" meaning tree) creatures inhabit or enjoy spending time in trees and leafy areas.
Huntsman spiders most commonly live in crevices in trees, woodpiles, mines; anything that's "woody" really. Huntsman spiders tend to prefer cosy places, and also enjoy inhabiting cars or people's homes.
|What other type of spider are huntsman spiders commonly mistaken for?|
Tarantulas. Because of their size and hairiness, huntsman spiders are often mistaken for tarantulas.
However, tarantulas belong to the Theraphosidae family, and are often have rounder, more spherical bodies, and their legs do not twist forwards quite like the huntsman spiders. Whilst this is not true for all cases, tarantulas are most commonly black, whilst huntsman spiders are varying shades of brown.
Either way, if one of these monstrous creatures is looking down at you, you're not likely to be worrying which kind it is!
|Huntsman spiders are also commonly called "rain spiders". Why is this?|
Because of their tendency to run for shelter before a rain storm has even begun. Huntsman spiders are like little weather predictors. They always know when it's going to rain, and will often scurry off to find shelter before the heavens open on them.
Unfortunately, "shelter" often equates to "human habitation," such as houses, sheds, and particularly motor cars (in my experience, they seem to like showers as well).
|In which of the following places are you not likely to find a huntsman spider?|
Canada. Huntsman spiders tend to live in tropical and semi-tropical regions, and tend to avoid cold and very wet habitats.
Common places that the huntsman spider is found are places like South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, southern parts of America such as Florida and Hawaii, and some parts of Asia.
Be warned though: huntsman spiders have been found in places as far north as the United Kingdom!
|Finally, are huntsman spiders deadly to humans?|
n. One of the things that I find most amusing about these guys is that they are real sheep in wolves's clothing! Despite their large and terrifying appearance, they are just 100% harmless.
While you probably wouldn't want to get bitten by one, huntsman spiders are just about harmless. There venom would certainly be enough to kill insects, but not a human. If a person is bitten, they may experience some localised pain and a small amount of swelling, but it should go away in less than 48 hours.
Huntsman spiders do, however, have an unfortunate habit of hiding in little nooks and crannies - they especially love motor cars. Sometimes it'll make its grand entrance quite unexpectedly. Face to face with this monstrous looking creature, some drivers have rather melodramatic reactions, and will swerve wildly all over the road, crashing into other cars, tree, etc. Some people have even been known to fling themselves desperately from their vehicles rather than share them with a spider!
So if one ever does turn up in your car, just remain calm!
Those who are well-informed consider the huntsman spider to be quite useful, as they will often get rid of other pesky insects.
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