Desert Tarantula Aphonopelma chalcodes
Size: Body: 2-2 3/4" in length, Leg span: up to 4". After their final molt, males have smaller abdomens, longer legs and darker coloring, plus "hooks" on each front leg called mating spurs.
Diet: Insects lizards and other small animals. Venom from fangs is used to kill the prey and reduce the flesh to a liquid that can be sucked in through the mouth.
Range: Arizona, New Mexico and southern California down into Mexico
Habitat: Live in burrows in desert soil.
Behavior: Tarantulas spin webbing on the floor of their burrow and extending out the entrance. When small animals step on the silk, vibrations are transmitted inside to the spider, who rushes out to capture the prey.
Life Span: Females 20-30 years, males 8-10 years
Locomotion: Typical spider walk. They are terrestrial and rarely climb or jump.
Breeding/Reproduction: Sexually mature males roam the desert from June to October breeding with females. 300+ eggs just inside the burrow entrance hatch in 6-7 weeks
Nifty Fact: Tarantulas are preyed on by big, black wasps with orange wings called "tarantula hawks". The wasp stings the spider, paralyzing it, then drags it to a burrow where it lays a single egg on it. When the wasp larva hatches it eats the live, but helpless spider for months until the wasp can fly.
©2005 Brooke Bessesen