Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Desert Tarantula - (Aphonopelma chalcodes)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 1/7/2014

The Desert Tarantula is a creature featured in scary movies, old westerns and even the Brady Bunch.

Desert Tarantulas are a common sight in the Southwestern states and Mexico. They generally hide during the day, choosing instead to rest under rock collections or in protective burrows that are abandoned by desert rodents.

As with most arachnids, the male of the species is smaller than the female though Desert Tarantulas in general are noted for their large size compared to other spiders. Leg spans can reach up to 4 inches in diameter on the females, making it possible for them to cover the whole hand of a grown man. Their bodies are also covered in an abundance of hair. This bristly hair is the hallmark of identifying Tarantulas, in general. Males are generally all dark in color, whereas females tend to have light brown (blonde)hairs on their carapace ('shoulders') and legs.

This spider will work hard at avoiding contact with people, and it will strike if disturbed or threatened. It should be noted that Desert Tarantula bites are considered to be poisonous, though not deadly. Seeking medical assistance is advisable if bitten. In general, Desert Tarantula venom is reported to only be as dangerous as bee venom, but deadly allergic reaction may result in sensitive individuals as every body is different.

Given their size, Desert Tarantulas are able to take down and consume small reptiles in addition to insects. Spiderlings hatch from eggs laid by the female and young male spiders eventually develop the large hairy pedipalps at the front of the face. Females can have great longevity and some have been known to have life spans of up to 20 years.

©2005-2016 All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction Permitted. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from is strictly prohibited. Material presented throughout this website is for entertainment value and should not to be construed as usable for scientific research or medical advice (insect bites, etc...). Please consult licensed, degreed professionals for such information. Email corrections / Comments to InsectIdentification at Gmail dot com.

Category: Spider
Common name: Desert Tarantula
Scientific Name: Aphonopelma chalcodes
Other Names: Desert Blonde Tarantula

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
     Order: Araneae
      Family: Theraphosidae
       Genus: Aphonopelma
        Species: chalcodes

Adult Size (Length): 50mm to 70mm (1.97in to 2.76in)

Identifying Colors: gray, brown, black, beige, tan

Additional Descriptors: heavy, hairy, knees, biting, venomous, biting

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Arizona; California; New Mexico; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.