The Find-a-Spider Guide

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Huntsman

Fact Box
Species:
Heteropoda jugulans (D. Hirst)
(or a related species: see below)
Family:
Sparassidae
formerly Heteropodidae
Body length:
female: 22 mm
male: 19 mm
Habitat:
Under loose bark in eucalypt forests and occasionally on inside walls of sheds
Toxicity:
Uncertain; may cause mild illness
Heteropoda jugulans
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Immature female?
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Underside views
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Male, two views
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Female and egg sac

Australian Heteropoda species are difficult to distinguish from each other without the aid of a stereo microscope as well as some information regarding the locality in which a particular specimen was found. The markings on their upper surfaces vary slightly from specimen to specimen but not greatly from species to species. For this reason each species can only be identified with confidence by examining its genital structures under the microscope.

Many people have based their identification of a Heteropoda specimen on the photo labelled as Heteropoda cervina by (Mascord) in his 1970 spider booklet. It is likely that Mascord correctly named this spider but in her 1994 paper (Valerie Davies) of the Queensland Museum reported that there are at least 37 Australian Heteropoda species and that several of them, including H. cervina, can be found in North Queensland, which was where the specimen in Mascord's photograph was found. Heteropoda jugulans is probably the most common species found in South Queensland, although its range appears to extend as far north as Cape Tribulation. There are also at least nine other Heteropoda species recorded for parts of South Queensland, most of them with a more restricted range than that of H. jugulans.

Being nocturnal hunters, Heteropoda species often wander into houses in the evenings and may be found on walls and ceilings as well as in sheds and letter boxes around the house. They are readily caught in pit traps made by burying 10 litre cylinders into the ground in a bush setting because they are primarily woodland spiders that hide in crevices under loose bark.

Spider(s) with a very similar appearance: Most other Australian Heteropoda species and some other sparassids.


Email Ron Atkinson for more information.    Last updated 2 February 2013.