Do they Bite? Are they Dangerous?

All You Need to Know About the Giant Hawaiian Cane Spider

If you have seen a large brown spider that had relatively longer legs, chances are you have encountered one of the world’s largest spiders, that is, the cane spider, also known as brown huntsman spider!

30-Second Summary

Are cane spiders Dangerous?: No
Where do cane spiders live?: They can be primarily found in sugar cane fields hiding in tree holes
How long does a cane spider live?: The lifespan of cane spiders is around 2 years
Which insects do cane spiders eat?: Insects like butterflies, moths, silverfish and cockroaches
Which animals do cane spiders eat?: Animals like bats and scorpions
Do Cane Spiders Bite?: Yes.
What to do when a cane spider bites?: Apply cold compress to the area of the bite to reduce swelling.
Cane Spider or Huntsman Spider – Which is Bigger?: Both are similar in body length as well as life span.

Hawaii, despite being a small group of islands, boasts of one of the most diverse wildlife in all of America. It has been estimated that there are as many as 21,000 different species found in its rainforests including mammals, reptiles, aquatic animals, and birds. However, what is noteworthy is that these forests are also home to some of the most exotic and unique spiders, one of them being the Cane Spider. Large, extraordinary hunters, and quick and stealthy, these spiders are found across the Hawaii islands. As terrifying their image may be, owing to their size, these spiders are hardly dangerous.

 Cane Spiders – A Brief Background 

The cane spiders (Heteropoda venatoria), come from the Sparassidae Family, known for their speed and agility. Also popularly known as the Banana Spider, Giant Crab Spider, Large Brawn Spider, Laya, Pantropical Huntsman, and Brown Hunstman, they live in the tropical and subtropical regions and are found across all the Hawaiian Islands.

As cane spiders are averse to cold temperatures, they tend to hide in warmer surroundings and thus they can take a liking to places like homes, sheds, and barns. This is mostly the reason why there has been an increasing number of human-cane spider interactions and these creatures have come to be despised by us.

That said, the large size of this giant spider and the ability to hunt like an expert poses no danger to humans. These are tactics they have developed as part of their evolution to safeguard themselves from their predators and not attack or harm humans.

Did you know? These spiders are widely found on farms, especially banana and avocado farms and more famously, sugarcane fields – which is where they get their name Cane Spider from.

 Hawaiian cane spiders are believed to be the biggest spiders in the Hawaiian Islands. There have been many misconceptions about these spiders and the internet has only added more fuel to the rumors that they can grow up to six feet in length. This is far from true as the biggest these spiders can grow up to is between 4-6 inches.

 Cane Spiders – How do they look?

close up look of cane spider in Hawaii

Cane spiders are mostly seen in the tint of brown – tan, dark brown, reddish brown, and greyish brown – and have a hairy body.

The main body is only three-fourths of an inch, however, if their legs are also included, they can grow up to 4-6 inches. They have extremely long legs, that are quite thick with a leg span of up to 5 inches wide. Their legs are covered with black spots, and it is from these black that their wiry hair protrudes out in the form of small and thin spines.

If seen from a distance, this large brown spider can be easily mistaken as a tarantula, a wolf spider, or a brown recluse. This is what most people attribute to their mistaken identity and the fear people have of these spiders that are believed to cause no harm to humans.

The giant Hawaiian Cane Spider has eight eyes that are positioned in two rows on the front of its head. There is a yellow or creamy band right below the eyes. The spider usually has a black or brown pattern on the body.

Cane spiders court in an interesting way where the male spider plants the feet firmly onto the ground the vibrates the abdomen to release a humming-like sound.

The female cane spider releases 100-400 eggs that are carried in an egg-like sac. Interestingly, cane spiders don’t spin a web, instead, they carry their egg sac on their pedipalps for over a month. During this entire period, the female cane spiders neither hunt nor eat anything, concentrating completely on providing for the eggs.

Once the spiderlings come out of the eggs, the mother spider continues to protect them until they are big enough to fend for themselves.

Do Cane Spiders Bite? Are They dangerous?

Cane spider bite
Cane spider don’t bite.

Cane spiders are known for their size and they are considered wily hunters. They are extremely fast as well.

However, they are not aggressive or dangerous to humans. In fact, they are known to be timid and shy and this is why they often hide themselves in warm places where they can spend their days without encountering any other beings. If they do face danger or are exposed from their hiding, they quickly run away into hiding again.

 Cane spiders rarely ever bite humans. They don’t need to resort to that option as a defense mechanism as they are lightning quick and immediately run away to safety. They do bite, but only in self-defense or if they are extremely provoked, which is true for most animals. Although, their venom is potent in its own capacity and if the cane spider bites a human, it can cause a slight headache and swell for a few hours. There is no other danger involved with its bite. Since they can flatten their bodies and are always looking for places to hide in warm environments, they can be found behind picture frames, under furniture, cracks, and other similar small areas. To avoid having a surprise encounter with them, it is better to be alert and check for their presence in such places before barging in.

Why are Cane Spiders Feared and Detested?

Even though cane spiders are harmless to humans, there has been a general belief that they are dangerous and scary. This is all because of mistaken identity.

Since cane spiders resemble a tarantula from a distance and more so a brown recluse, they are often mistaken as aggressive, attacking, and dangerous.

Also read: Spiders in Thailand

In fact, the brown recluse is different from a cane spider in many ways.

  • The two are quite different in size – cane spiders can grow up to 4-6 inches, while a brown recluse is only 1-2 inches big
  • Cane spiders have eight eyes, and brown recluse has six places in three pairs of two in a semicircle, unlike cane spider eyes that are placed in two rows
  • Cane spiders do not build webs, while brown recluse does.

Cane Spiders – Useful Pest Controllers 

Cane spiders are not only harmless, but they can also actually be really helpful in cleaning up the pest activity in your homes.

Cane spiders feast on any kind of pesty insects moving around in corners and dingy spots, which is why they could contribute towards the pest control needs of your house. And since they don’t make webs, they will not mess up your home as other spiders do.

So, if you find a cane spider quietly hiding in some corner of your home, let them be.

Just like all other creatures in our wonderful world, the cane spiders are a wildlife wonder.

They are extremely wily hunters, lightning fast, shy, and timid, and totally harmless. They prefer to run and hide at the first sight of danger instead of acting aggressively.

The Hawaiian Islands are blessed with vibrant wildlife and cane spiders are one of those amazing crawlers inhabiting the land. And these tiny little creatures add more color and variety to Hawaii’s beautiful landscape.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cane Spiders

Are Cane Spiders the same as Banana Spiders?

No. While Cane Spiders are largely found in banana groves, the Banana Spider is essentially the Hawaiian Garden Spider. It gets its name because of its yellow colour!

Meanwhile, Hawaiian garden spiders are often called banana spiders simply because of their yellow color.

Is the Angolan Witch spider real?

Actually, no! A photoshopped image of one of the wolf spiders found at a photographer’s home in Florida was uploaded on the internet. The editing made the spider seem much larger than it actually was, and just as the picture was getting viral, a platform added a caption suggesting that it is an ‘Angolan Witch Spider’, which eats cats and dogs! It was later confirmed that it was all hoax, and no such giant spider actually exists.

How to differentiate between Male and Female Spiders?

While male can spiders have pale patches behind the eyes, females have relatively larger abdomens. Male spiders are also known to have thick hairy legs!

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