New Zealand Praying Mantis

Creepy Crawlies

The cute, the bad and the visitors from hell. Like many people I am not a big fan of creepy crawlies – particularly the eight legged ones. Luckily New Zealand has been blessed by the absence of the really nasty ones. We got off lightly compared to Australia. Our big brother across the ditch took one for the team, thanks Straya!

As New Zealand’s main entry point for tourists, goods and other imports, it was just a matter of time before some unwelcome critters managed to sneak into Auckland. One of which is the Australian huntsman spider. With first reports from the early 1920, Delena cancerides as known by its scientific name, has managed to establish a permanent presence in Auckland.

Huntsman Spider in Auckland

There have been sightings in various suburbs but the specimen seems to be mostly found in and around Avondale. The giant spider statue along the Great North Road in Avondale has been erected in honour of this intruder, in case you didn’t know.

Let’s call ourselves lucky that so far – knock on wood – none of its poisonous siblings setup base in Auckland. And while the huntsman has a peaceful nature and is not dangerous to humans, for people with arachnophobia they are not a pleasant view.

The sheer size of those buggers is intimidating.

Another reason to dislike them is that they are social and live in colonies of up to 300, according to wikipedia. In case you come across one of them, be ready to encounter possibly more. If you are interested to find out more about the Avondale Spider, have a look at the Tepapa Website, Landcare Research, Wikipedia and Stuff.

Avondale Spider Encounter

Avondale Huntsman Spider Auckland

The reason why I write this article is because a friend of mine received an uninvited and unwelcome visit of an Avondale spider.

She successfully defended her premises in Royal Oak with the power of caned body spray, sending the huntsman on it’s way. The window stayed closed until she was able to install a fly-screen.

So far I am lucky that I haven’t encountered a huntsman yet (knock on wood again) and I hope that stays that way. I crossed paths once with a white-tailed spider in Remuera. I politely showed her the door and I haven’t seen her since.

Critters in the garden

There are also plenty of black tunnelweb spiders around the tree in our garden. I have generally no problems with them either, as they don’t come inside the house.

Somehow the smaller ones bother me less in general and I have no issues with other insects or critters. Some of them are quite interesting actually, like this very photogenic praying mantis I found Mangere the other day. I am also a big fan of cicadas and crickets. The music they make is lovely.

New Zealand Praying Mantis

Which creepy crawlies have you encountered in Auckland? And which ones are the worst in your opinion?

Ants on a Flower

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