Avondale spider 

Delena cancerides

What do they look like?

The Avondale spider is a kind of huntsman spider, which are typically large and flattened looking. This species is  pale fawn or grey in colour. Occasionally other species, such as the Christchurch huntsman, are found.

Where are they found?

An Australian immigrant, the Avondale spider gets its name from the Auckland suburb where it first became established. They have not spread widely, possibly because of a lack of suitable habitat.

What are their habits?

Avondale spiders are nocturnal, and by day prefer to hide under the loose bark of wattle trees (Acacia sp.). They do not use a web to catch prey. Instead, they wait for a potential victim to come close enough to capture with their front pair of legs and pull into their fangs.

These spiders featured in the movie Arachnophobia. Australian regulations prohibited their export from there as they are native wildlife. However, the New Zealand population has no such protection and staff at Landcare Research in Auckland were able to provide enough spiders for the movie.

What is their bite like?

The Avondale spider is rather docile and shows little inclination to bite anything other than suitably sized prey.

On display at Te Papa?

In the NatureSpace spider drawer.