Family Sparassidae formerly Heteropodidae

Family Selenopidae

The Sparassidae are sometimes incorrectly named 'tarantulas' or 'giant crab spiders'.
Tarantulas is a name given to the large and hairy spiders belonging to the families Ctenizidae, Dipluridae and Theraphosidae.
The largest spiders found in Australia is a huntsman with a leg span up to 160 mm! The family Sparassidae in australia contains >13 genera and more than 94 described species.
All spiders in this family have a flattened body, which allow them to find shelter between loosened bark. They have eight eyes set in two rows of four.
Huntsman are nocturnal. At the start of the evening the spiders leave their hiding places and wander around searching for prey.
When found, they kill the victim with a bite from its strong, curved fangs.
Because a spider has to change their skin, the skin of these giants can be found hanging on trees or wires.
The Selenops family has only one member, Selenops australiensis.
This is a relative small spider, about 8 mm long, with a different eye-setting; a row with six eyes on top and two on the second row.
Huntsman are widely spread in large numbers throughout the country and may find shelter at your home.
And .... sit on the toilet roll.


Genus Neosparassus formerly Olios

Neosparassus_salacius_F0704Neosparassus salacius female

25 species are known in this genus and their body size is around 15 mm. With their long legs they appear large.
These spiders are also called Badge spider because of their distinctive black, white and orange patches at the underside of their abdomen (see below).

Neosparassus salacius female. This spider hides during the day in leaves, under bark or inside houses in curtains

Neosparassus salacius
Neosparassus salacius male
Neosparassus diana Neosparassus diana
Neosparassus diana by Brad McGinniss TAS Neosparassus diana by Brad McGinniss TAS
Neosparassus Typostola
Neosparassus ZZ593 Neosparassus or Typostola ZZ489
Neosparassus ZZ154 Neosparassus
Neosparassus ZZ154 Neosparassus ZZ572 Green huntsman spider
Neosparassus Neosparassus
Neosparassus? ZZ278 Neosparassus? ZZ278
Neosparassus Neosparassus
Neosparassus_sp. ZZ280 Neosparassus_sp. ZZ280

Genus Delena

Delena cancarides Delena cancarides
Delena cancarides Delena cancarides
Delena gloriosa Delena cancarides
Delena gloriosa Picture by Donna Newton SA Delena_cancarides_F1643

Delena cancarides has been reported as being a social spider. A social spider is defined as a "cooperation among mutually tolerant individuals".
About 20 spider species has been described as social. They fulfil the main criterion of sociality; cooperation in prey capture and in brood care.

This is also the spider that featured in the movie Arachnophobia. The spider was imported from New Zealand, where it lives around Avondale, because Australian regulations prohibited their export from there.

(This message was originally sent to the Arachnology Mailing List by David Rowell) Delena cancerides (Sparassidae, or Heteropodidae if you like) is found pretty much all over Australia, wherever there are suitable trees. It is the only social sparassid reported, and can live in colonies of up to 300 spiders under bark. Adult females can have a leg spread exceeding 14cm. Delena cancerides has been well characterised chromosomally and allozymically, and is particularly unusual as it possesses a number of distinct chromosomal races that differ by carrying different combinations of chromosomal fusions. This is a useful marker as it has made it possible to determine from where in Australia New Zealand's "Avondale spider" originated. Several of the chromosomal races can hybridise and produce fertile offspring, resulting in distinctive hybrid zones. In the best studied of these, animals can have anything from 22 to 43 chromosomes and produce viable sperm. I have students currently studying the social behaviour of this species as it is particularly unusual. It is one of only 2 social spiders reported which do not build a web snare, and it shows marked intercolony aggression. Very little is known about its dispersal and mating system, however it is clearly outbreeding, as it is among the most allozymically polymorphic (and heterozygous) of all spiders - in contrast to other social spiders, which tend to show very low heterozygosity levels. It's hard to understand how outbreeding is facilitated, given that colonies tend not to tolerate the presence of individuals from other colonies.

Genus Heteropoda

These Brown huntsman spider is about 20 mm long and lives on or under bark from eucalypt trees (or on keyboards).


Heteropoda sp. ZZ279

Heteropoda cervina Heteropoda_jugulans
Heteropoda cervina or brown huntsman spider Heteropoda jugulans


Heteropoda jugulans attacked by Cryptocheilus bicolor, A member of Tarantula Hawks and Allies Subfamily Pepsinae. Picture by Greg Russell-Jones

Heteropoda jugulans
Isopoda_ZZ075_RF0444 Isopoda_ZZ075_RF0445
Heteropoda jugulans Heteropoda jugulans
Heteropoda cervina Heteropoda cervina
Heteropoda cervina Heteropoda cervina
Heteropoda cervina Heteropoda cervina
Heteropoda cervina Heteropoda cervina

Genus Holconia (former Isopeda)

Holconia immanis Holconia immanis
Holconia immanis by Rob Girard. Holconia immanis

This female Giant grey huntsman spider can measure up to 45 mm and is one of the larger Australian spiders. They live on eucalypt trees but also like to live in houses and sheds.
Holconia is distributed with 40 species Australia-wide. They are large flat spiders with legs up to 30 mm. They can often be seen in summer running over walls and ceiling during the night-time. The young spiders move faster than the adults and are difficult to catch.
Holconia are distinctive, brown to grey spiders. The ceplalothorax (head-breast part) is rounded and the abdomen more oval. The body is flat in side profile and adapted for living in narrow spaces under bark and other crevices. The spider is not aggressive.

Isopoda_ZZ074_RF0223 Isopoda_ZZ074_RF0225
Holconia flavida Holconia flavida
Isopeda vasta Isopeda vasta
Holconia vasta (by Colin Halliday) (QLD) Holconia vasta (by Colin Halliday) (QLD)
Holconia insignis
Holconia insignis. This spider is also known as the banded huntsman spider. The male is 25-30 mm and the female 32-40 mm large.
This species is one of the largest in its genus in Australia.
Holconia insignis Holconia insignis
Holconia insignis Holconia insignis
Isopeda insignis Holconia
Holconia insignis by Rosemary Robinson Megalong Valley, Blue Mountains.
Holconia ZZ450 by Wendy Eiby (WA)
Isopeda ZZ306 Isopeda ZZ306
Holconia ZZ306 (WA) Holconia ZZ306 (WA)
Holconia insignis Holconia
Holconia insignis? by Christopher Worgan (VIC) Holconia? ZZ601 (SA)

Genus Pediana

Pediana regina
Pediana regina Wide spread in QLD. Living on and under bark.
Isopedella victorialis Isopedella victorialis
Pediana regina Pediana regina

Genus Isopedella
Isopedella victorialis Isopedella victorialis
Isopedella victorialis Isopedella victorialis

Genus Pediana


Four species are described of this genus. The spider is rare and usually found near the base of trees.

Pediana regina
  Pediana regina

Huntsman Hemicloea
Huntsman ZZ281 This spider, found in Carnavon park, was very large and fast. It is not a huntsman but resembles it much. It is a Gnaphosidae, genus Hemicloea.
Huntsman ZZ147 Huntsman ZZ147
Huntsman ZZ147 Huntsman ZZ147

Family Selenopidae (Flatties)


Selenops australiensis
Selenops australiensis Pictures by Fahran Bokhari  
The only described member so far of this family living in Australia.
They are also called Wall crab spider.
Selenops australiensis move sideways like a crab.
The spider is flat and their coloring makes them difficult to spot. They can be found on trees, rocks and of course walls. Because they are so flat they can hide under bark.
Selenops australiensis

Ed Nieuwenhuys, Ronald Loggen, Jurgen Otto, Robert Whyte, 10 may 2022

15 September 2018, 24 August 2011, 5 November 2006, March 2005, April 2006

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