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Topic: Christchurch huntsman

Is part of topic What spider is that?

Scientific name: Isopedella victorialis

What do they look like?

The Christchurch huntsman is large and flattened-looking, like other huntsman spiders such as the Avondale spider. The body is predominantly brown and the front two pairs of legs have black and white bands. Other huntsman species look similar in form, but can vary widely with regard colouring.

Where are they found?

Previously known only from around Melbourne, Australia, several specimens of this spider were found in the Christchurch suburbs of Hillmorton and Hoon Hay in December 2005 and January 2006.

Read the Biosecurity New Zealand Fact Sheet on the Christchurch huntsman spider (pdf, 3.1MB)

Aside from the Avondale spider, it is not certain if any other species of huntsman spider, including the Christchurch huntsman, have become established in New Zealand. However, huntsman spiders are occasionally reported in buildings around Auckland and other cities. The banana spider, Heteropoda venatoria, is also occasionally intercepted by border quarantine agencies or found in fruit shops! Should you ever find a huntsman spider, Biosecurity New Zealand would like to hear from you on 0800 80 99 66. They also have a web page on huntsman spiders.

What are their habits?

Like most huntsman spiders, this species is an active, nocturnal hunter.  These spiders are most active around 3am so may be present in an area but go unnoticed. Typically they prefer living under the bark of loose-barked trees, but may also be found in tree stumps, fallen logs, and hollows. Human dwellings can potentially provide them with conditions similar to those they would normally seek in the wild.

The habits of other huntsman spiders can vary widely between species. While there are many tropical species that would find New Zealand too cold, there are certainly a number of Australian species that would be quite comfortable living around New Zealand homes.

What is their bite like?

Huntsman spiders generally show little inclination to bite people, but as with any large spider, bites may prove painful. In general, huntsman spider bites are considered to be of minor inconvenience, but the spider's large size can be alarming for people uncomfortable around spiders.

On display at Te Papa?


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