Desert Tarantula

Happy Halloween! To celebrate, we want to highlight one of Nevada’s notorious invertebrates, the desert tarantula (Aphonopelma iodius). These are easily one of the most recognizable species of spider out there! Almost everybody knows a tarantula when they see one. They have been described as big, hairy and scary — but they certainly don’t live up to their reputation (well, perhaps the scary part).

Desert tarantulas, like all spiders, have fangs and venom, but does that mean they as dangerous as people think they are? Not really. In fact, they are often quite docile and are generally pretty harmless to humans. Their bite has been compared to that of a bee sting, but that doesn’t mean that you should chase one down and pick it up!

While males and females are typically about the same size, females are uniformly tan in color, whereas males have black legs, dark triangles around their eyes, and a reddish abdomen. Interestingly, males live to around three years of ages, while females can live up to twenty!

Even though tarantulas look hairy, their bodies are actually covered in a hair-like filament called setae. Compensating for their poor eyesight, these hairs help the tarantula sense prey and assess other important information about its environment.

Denise Peterson

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