Tarantulas in Phoenix are a Real Pest
Have you moved something in your yard and disturbed a BIG HAIRY SPIDER? You’ve probably unearthed a tarantula.
While tarantulas are the world’s largest spiders, their venom is milder than a honeybee. And while they typically pose little threat to humans, a bite can become infected and require medical treatment. Tarantulas can also make pets sick if they find one and try to eat it.
Most of the 850 species are found in South America in the tropical and subtropical climate but a fair number are found right here in the desert.
Size, Strength & Lifespan of Tarantulas
The National Wildlife Federation reports female tarantulas live up to 30 years while their male counterparts live for 10-12 years. Tarantula bodies consist of two body parts, eight legs, and two pedipalps. The pedipalps are used for touching and moving prey.
Female tarantulas are known to be stockier with brown hair while the males have black hair on their body and reddish hair on the stomach. They can measure 4.5 to 11 inches in length, weigh 1-3 ounces, have strong jaws and fangs, and range in color from dull brown or black to bright colors and stripes.
Something interesting is that tarantulas molt their skin and at the same time can replace internal organs like a stomach lining, female genitalia, or lost legs.
You may see them rear onto their back legs like a larger mammal would and for the same reason. Whether your dog or cat, or a tarantula, they are on their hind legs to defend themselves and make themselves seem bigger. From this position some tarantula species are able to release spiny hairs as defense. The hairs aren’t harmful but may cause irritation if they get into your eyes or nasal passages.
Tarantulas eat insects, beetles, and grasshoppers though the Goliath bird-eating species eat larger prey such as lizards, snakes, frogs, and small birds. Lucky for us, Goliath is found in the rainforest of South America so you don’t have to worry!
Where & When to Find Tarantulas
In the United States, these nocturnal spiders are found in the Southwest, especially in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. They love dry soil and live in the ground. In other parts of the world, tarantulas live in trees, cliffs, caves, or crops especially bananas and pineapples.