Giant Crab Spider
Family: Hetropodidae (Sparassidae)
Other common names: huntsman
Spanish name: cazadora del desierto
One of the largest in this area, this spider has a leg span of 2 to 2¼ inches (50 to 64 mm). It is medium to light brown. It often extends its legs at right angles to its body. It can move sideways rapidly, hence the name crab spider. Despite its large size, it is capable of climbing fairly smooth vertical surfaces and is often seen high on walls or even ceilings of dwellings. This is one easy way to distinguish it from the wolf spider, a non-climber.
Distribution and Habitat
Though it belongs to a group of spiders which is mostly tropical, the giant crab spider is found throughout Arizona and Sonora, in a variety of habitats, such as in dead saguaros, under rocks, and in dwellings.
This is a hunting spider that wanders in search of insect prey, then relies on speed to catch it. During the day it hides, its flattened body perfectly designed for fitting into narrow cracks or fissures. At night it comes out to hunt. Reportedly, its bite is painful, though it is not dangerous to humans. These spiders generally settle into one place only at egg-laying time. Females produce large egg bags that they hide in and guard.