Saturday, 16 August 2008

Social Huntsman Spider

... Delena cancerides

This afternoon I came across this spider - Delena cancerides. This is Tasmania's largest Huntsman spider. It is known as the 'Social Huntsman' as it can live in colonies of up to 300. It is rather flat bodied and generally lives under the bark of trees. This one was found on a star post when I removed a bit of tin that was attached to it. A couple of months ago, my wife picked up a cardboard box which had been lying rotting in the bush for quite a while. We both freaked out when we seen three of these huntsmen crawling on her. (Don't worry - I composed myself long enough to be able to rescue her) So..... apparently they also like to live between sheets of old cardboard :-0

For scale, the blue and yellow marks on the first photo are each 1 cm long. The star post is 4.5 cm across.

Warning: Arachnophobes should not scroll down any further.

Click to see larger version

Social Hunstman - Delena cancerides

Social Hunstman - Delena cancerides


  1. Do you take your camera everywhere? When I was a kid we used to carry huntsman spiders around in our school shirt pockets (on the understanding that they weren't poisonous) so we could give them to girls. Evil I know. However, I understand some of them can deliver a nasty bite. Joe Shepherd, who was Professor of Surgery at the Uni of Tas some years ago was demonstrating the Huntsman's lack of venom to visitors one day when he was bitten, and discovered that either (i) that particlular type was poisonous or (ii) he was allergic to them. He had to go to hospital as I recall.

  2. Thanks Mark - Well maybe not everywhere but I do take it most places.

    That's one way to do spider venom research. I wonder if he's laughing about it yet :-)

  3. Mosura,
    I have a real phobia when it comes to spiders, funny though,I find the big foriegn ones aren't as bad as the english house spiders!!

  4. Thanks Warren - LOL - that's because they are 12,000 miles away :-)

    We used to get loads of House Spiders in Autumn. I hated them too.

  5. Hi Mosura
    I met a Huntsman Mother up a tree when bird banding some nestlings. I dislodged a sheet of bark while climbing the tree - and there she was - right under my nose, with about 100 babies on her back.
    I was up a huge Gum Tree, about 30 metres off the ground.
    I have never been fond of them since that encounter.
    I let them alone - outside, but draw the line at them climbing around my bedroom ceiling.
    Great photos - but your warning to arachnophobes was appropriate.


  6. Hello Mosura

    That's one big creepy crawly! I think the professor of surgery needed to do a bit more reading before his practical demonstration!!! Warren is right about the English house spiders - they scuttle SO fast...)-:

    Best wishes, Adrian

  7. Nice shots, Mosura. I can feel for your wife! Before I 'overcame' my fear, I would have probably come close to fainting! A similar thing happened to me many years ago when I was eradicating a briar rose infestation. I had just chopped down this enormous bush to find I had a passenger on each shoulder! That was the end of the day's work and the Brandy got a nudge when I got home!!

    Mark, I don't think Sparassids are known to be poisonous. Someone falling ill from a bite would have more to do with what the spider had been dining on, rather than a venom. However, I will not be playing guinea-pig to prove the above theory! :-)

  8. Hi Mosura,
    After reading the kind comment you posted on my blog (Afternoon Feed), I followed up your blog.
    Very impressive...especially the Huntsman post.
    Happy to place a link on my site to you :)


  9. Thanks Denis, Adrian, JL, and David - Thanks for the comments. Sorry I took so long to say so, i seem to have missed some of them.