Biosecurity hunting Huntsman spiders in Hoon Hay, Hillmorton area

13 January 2006

Biosecurity New Zealand is asking residents in the Hillmorton and Hoon Hay suburbs of Christchurch to be on the lookout for Huntsman spiders after three home owners in the area reported finding the spiders on their properties.

This Huntsman spider species is most commonly found in southern Victoria in Australia and is easily identifiable by its large size and colour. It usually grows to between 5-7 cm in size, including the legs. The two front pairs of legs have black and white bands, and are longer than the back two pairs. Huntsman spiders have a slightly flattened appearance and are more active at night than during the day. They eat mainly insects.

Biosecurity New Zealand senior adviser Sonya Bissmire said the first Huntsman, a male, was found at a Halswell Road property in late December. Another, a female, was found at a nearby property on 4 January. The latest find was made this morning, and is thought to be a pregnant female of the same species, and is larger than the first two. It was made after the homeowner's pets showed interest in something in the curtains. The three spiders were found one each in a bedroom, a living room, and immediately outside a house entrance.

"Although the sites are close together, we couldn't link the first two finds, but the discovery of a pregnant female means it's much more likely there will be others," Ms Bissmire said.

 "We know that some people will be alarmed, particularly by their size, but they are not a human health risk. They are lightening fast, and can move in any direction, but they're more likely to run away rather than bite. However, like any spider bite, an allergic reaction is a possibility, though no greater than any other spider.

"The people who have found them so far have done exactly the right thing and let us know, but we need to find out if there are any more out there. If someone finds a Huntsman they could call 0800 80 99 66. If they are able to, they should catch the spider in a see-though plastic container (large) with a lid."

Door-knocking in the immediate area, both to distribute information and answer any resident's questions was planned for next week. Options for eradicating a population, if there is one, will be assessed when further information is gathered both from searches of the area, and from spider experts in Australia, Ms Bissmire said.

Media contact:
Phil Barclay
Senior Communications Adviser
Biosecurity New Zealand
027 229 9145



Last Updated: 23 September 2010

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