Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Monday Goodies: Tarantulas

Well, darn. Yesterday was a day off from school, which in my brain made it not Monday. So, I wrote up the Monday Goodies really late, uploaded the pictures, and then fell asleep without posting them. My comeback is not off to a great start. Bear with me.

I thought I'd start this week with some spiders. While we're on the topic, are you on Google+ yet? If so, add me! Also, every Sunday I curate a group of really awesome spider photos with two other Google+ friends, Kjetil Greger Pedersen and Chris Mallory. If you like my spider pictures, come check out a bunch more good ones on the Spider Sunday page. And join in next Sunday!

So this week's spider ... That big spider you had in your house was probably not a tarantula, especially not this time of the year.

I say this because, about once a month (last week was the most recent one), someone will send me a photo or tell me a story about a "HUGE spider," ask me what I think it was, and then cut me off to tell me never mind, it was probably a tarantula. Usually, it's a wolf spider, maybe a giant crab spider, or just a house spider and a really scared homeowner who swears "It must have at least been a baby tarantula."

That's not a tarantula. This is a tarantula.

Once you've seen a few tarantulas, you won't make the mistake again. Adult tarantulas are all-over bulky, not just long-legged. And they're hairy. To use a Dave Barry quote, they're more like “spiders so large they appear to be wearing the pelts of small mammals.”

Of course, Mr. Barry also asserts that menfolk are the spider killers, and women the spider haters. Which of course gets both me and my husband dead wrong. The point is, we know our spiders. (He, so he can run the other way; and me, so I can get closeup photos and be a know-it-all online.)

Our local tarantula is the Arizona blond; also called the western desert, Mexican blond, and probably a few names I haven't heard before. They tend to be in 1- to 2-inch burrows anywhere where saguaros and other desert flora abound. As you can see in the photo below, they blend in surprisingly well, until Agh! When did that get here?! The stocky females, which reach sexual maturity around seven to 10 years old, are a uniform brown color. The slightly lankier males, which are the ones most commonly encountered, have copper-colored bodies and black legs.

Also, if you're my son, you think they're absolutely adorable.

More on the Arizona blond tarantula soon, because it's also in my Species a Day, which is getting a big boost as soon as I catch up. As soon as Monday: The Sequel (known to more responsible individuals as Tuesday) gives me a breather. Happy week, everyone.


kirsten said... Best Blogger Tips

fortunately, I never have to make that identification. Cool photos - I like tarantulas.. but maybe not on me.

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks, Kirsten!

It does behoove us to know our spiders. We have a fairly large assortment of species. Tarantulas are big softies, though -- pretty shy, and actually rather fragile. I love holding them, but don't usually, more for the tarantulas' sake than mine.

Barbara said... Best Blogger Tips

We have tarantulas around here. I won't pick them up, but I think they are so cool!

Carole DeAngeli said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for promoting these handsome and gentle creatures who are very misunderstood.

Adrian said... Best Blogger Tips

I gotta admit, I would love to photograph these, but I don't know if I'd be able to handle one! Beautiful, but still a bit spine -tingling... (confessions of a bug photographer!)

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said... Best Blogger Tips

Beautiful photos!

I have tarantulas and also don't handle them very often -- likewise, more for their safety than mine. I am always afraid of dropping them and bursting their abdomens. I would like handle our Rosehair because she is less skittish than our Common Pinktoe, but the Rosehair kicks off too many hairs. Sigh.

Tanya said... Best Blogger Tips

What great photos, would love to be able to photograph a tarantula :)

Thérèse said... Best Blogger Tips

I saw a couple of them in the Tonto National Forest never around Chandler... but I was not looking for them either. :-)