Heteropoda venatoria, commonly called the brown huntsman spider or laya, is found in many tropical and subtropical parts of the world, including Asia, some Mascarene and Caribbean islands, the southeastern US, and (especially) Australia. In Hawaii, where it was introduced, it is known as the cane spider. They are fairly large, some having a leg span of approximately five inches (13 centimetres). Although they are rather fearsome in appearance, they are very easily alarmed by the approach of humans and will very rapidly flee.
The female brown huntsman can be recognized by her stout body and the pillow-like egg sac that she often carries under her. The male typically has a slender body, longer and thinner legs, and a distinctive pattern on his carapace. Both male and female are reddish-brown to greyish-brown in color, and slightly hairy.
Brown huntsman spiders do not spin webs. These spiders are known to hunt by waiting quietly on a vertical surface (or even a ceiling) and then rushing forward when their prey gets within close range. Their exceptional agility and speed, as well as their ability to contort and squeeze through tight spaces, give them a strong advantage both in capturing prey and evading predators. They feed at night. Brown huntsmen are welcomed in some homes, as they feed on pests such as cockroaches and silverfish.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Heteropoda venatoria
There are 2 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank. Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species. See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Heteropoda venatoria
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
Heteropoda venatoria is a species of spider in the family Sparassidae, the huntsman spiders. It is native to the tropical regions of the world, and it is present in some subtropical areas as an introduced species. Its common names include giant crab spider and banana spider.
The adult has a flat, brown body 2.2 to 2.8 centimeters long. The female may be slightly larger than the male, particularly in the abdomen, but the male has longer legs and larger tips on its pedipalps. The clypeus, the area just behind the eyes, is cream or yellowish, and the carapace behind this has a wide band which is usually tan in the female and cream in the male. The body is not very hairy, but the legs have erectile setae, each of which is marked with a black dot.
The female produces an egg sac up to about 2.5 centimeters wide and carries it with its pedipalps under its body. Egg sacs are variable in size, usually containing over 100 eggs, with larger ones holding over 400. The spiderlings undergo their first molt while still in the sac. In one small laboratory sample, the life span of the male averaged 465 days, and that of the female was 580 days.
The spider feeds on insects, capturing them directly instead of spinning webs. It injects them with venom. The venom of this spider contains the toxin HpTX2, a potassium channel blocker. In some tropical areas the spider is considered a useful resident of households because of its efficient consumption of pest insects. It commonly lives in houses and other structures such as barns and sheds, especially in areas that experience cold temperatures. It is sensitive to cold and can live outdoors only in warmer climates.
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- Edwards, G. B. Huntsman Spider, Heteropoda venatoria (Linnaeus) (Arachnida: Araneae: Sparassidae). EENY-160. Entomology and Nematology. Florida Cooperative Extension Service. University of Florida IFAS. Published 2000, revised 2009.
- Ross, J., et al. (1982). The life cycle of Heteropoda venatoria (Linnaeus) (Araneae: Heteropodidae). Psyche 89, 297-306.
- Bernard, C., et al. (2000). Solution structure of hpTX2, a toxin from Heteropoda venatoria spider that blocks Kv4.2 potassium channel. Protein Science 9(11), 2059-67.
- Rovner, J. S. (1980). Vibration in Heteropoda venatoria (Sparassidae): a third method of sound production in spiders. Journal of Arachnology 8, 193-200.
- Huntsman spider, Heteropoda venatoria. Natural History Museum. 2013.
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