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Wildlife: Insects

Tarantula

Family: Theraphosideae
Genus & Species: Aphonopelma chaleodes

The largest desert spider is not poisonous to humans but its bite can be terribly painful if provoked. It feeds on insects but may fall victim to the large and colorful tarantula hawk wasp. A tarantula may inhabit a burrow for years.

Description:
A tarantula's body is 2 to 3 inches; 4 inch legs; color is brown to black; covered with thousands of fine hairs. Besides its eight legs, the basic sections of a tarantula's body are its cephalothorax (a fused head and thorax, or chest) and its abdomen. It also has eight closely set eyes.

Food:
The tarantula eats insects like beetles and grasshoppers, small lizards and mice; Tarantulas chase down their prey rather than snaring it in webs. Sensitive hairs on the spider's body allow it to detect subtle movements in its immediate environment and "home in" on a victim.

Life History:
The tarantula mates in the fall; litter size is 500 to 1,000; females may live 20 years or more, while males may be eaten during mating. They are solitary insects, living one to a burrow.

Habitat:
The tarantula is most often found in Joshua tree forest and creosote bush scrub habitats.

Activity:
When cornered by a predator, the tarantula will rub its hind legs over its abdomen, brushing hairs into its enemy's eyes.

Notes:
These shy giants are reluctant to attack humans and their venom is usually no worse than a bee sting.

> Tarantula Slideshow

Also see:
Tarantula Hawk Wasp



Life is typically short and ends violently for the male tarantula



recreation - ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - map/sat - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather
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