Spider on leaves


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Tarantula Bug Book


Usually dark brown to blackish, sometimes tan to yellowish/reddish-brown and/or with reddish golden hairs, etc.

Where Found

There are about 30 species found in the United States, with most occurring in the South but more commonly in the southwestern states.


Tarantulas are nocturnal and spend most days secluded in their burrows or retreats. These are located in natural cavities in the ground — old rodent burrows, under stones or debris on the ground, in cracks of trees, etc. They line the upper portion of their burrow with silk.They usually hunt close to home, often waiting inside until their prey gets close enough to capture. A number of tarantulas often occupy the same general area, such as a hillside or pasture.


Are you sitting down? Because this is gross. Larger varieties of tarantula will snack on animals as large as lizards, mice, and birds.

The tarantula's mouth is located under its chelicerae (pointed appendages which are used to grasp food) on the lower front part of its prosoma (head and thorax). The mouth is a short straw-shaped opening that can only suck, meaning that anything taken into it must be in liquid form. Prey with large amounts of solid parts, such as mice, must be crushed and ground up or predigested, which is accomplished by coating the prey with digestive juices that are secreted from openings in the chelicerae. Really gross, huh? Otherwise, they mainly eat insects.


Mating occurs in the autumn, and the female produces an egg sac the following summer. Egg sacs average 800-850 eggs each, and are up to 2-3" in diameter. After their first molt, young tarantulas venture out on their own. They molt about once each year and become adults in 5-7 years, though some take longer. Adult males die about 6 months after reaching maturity. Adult females are very long-lived, often living in excess of 20 years. They continue to mate once each year and produce an egg sac the following spring. They also continue to molt once each year, during which any damaged palps and/or legs are replaced.


Let's boogie! A myth once existed that the tarantula bite could cause a huge desire for dancing a frenzied dance.

Although the site of one can be alarming due to its size, the tarantula is mainly a nuisance pest. Bites by United States species are no more harmful than a bee sting.

Good Riddance

Pesticide application is almost never warranted. Sanitation to eliminate nearby burrows and exclusion are particularly important. Exclusion is important because tarantulas often enter structures through doors with wide gaps at the bottom and unscreened windows or doors left open at night.

Most calls are for single tarantulas that have entered structures. We suggest any tarantula be captured in a box, removed, and released outside as the preferred method. And just in case you skipped the section above on food, watch out for those digestive juices.

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