We are currently in the process of redoing the exhibits in the New Orleans gallery and one of the new additions is an exhibit displaying a huntsman spider.
Spiders are one of people’s favorite subjects to learn about when they come to the Insectarium. Though not an insect (they are close relatives but have too many legs and not enough body segments – called arachnids instead) we do like to give them a lot of “face time” in exhibits and at stations. The huntsman spider comes up a lot because a lot of people are amazed at the size of the animal - they are surprised that such a large spider lives here and a lot of people think it is a tarantula.
It is almost always true that most people when relating spider stories will exaggerate the size – much like a fish story it was always “This big!”. I personally believe that spiders have so much personality and presence that you can’t help but think them larger then they actually are. When I worked at my previous museum we often kept large fishing spiders and I was always surprised at how small they looked when they did finally die – even myself, a trained and seasoned keeper of these critters, am fooled by their actual size.
Huntsman, though not tarantulas, are still impressive animals. They are faster then almost any spider I have encountered and can go from completely still to across the room in a matter of seconds. They can be found in homes, garages, or sheds and can be very beneficial by keeping the roach population low. If you do see one you don’t have to worry because though they can bite (anything with a mouth can!), their venom isn’t that harmful and is likely just to leave an agitated bump for a couple of days.
So next time you visit the Insectarium please make sure to visit the New Orleans insect gallery area and check out our beautiful new spider.
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