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Desert Tarantula (Aphonopelma chalcodes)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Desert Tarantula.

 Updated: 5/30/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org




The famous Desert Tarantula is one of Hollywood's favorite creatures and has been featured in scary movies, old westerns, and television.



Desert Tarantulas are a common sight in the Southwestern states and Mexico. They generally hide during the day, choosing instead to rest under rocks 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 brown bodies are covered in an abundance of hairs. This bristly hair is the hallmark of identifying Tarantulas, in general. Males are generally completely dark, 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 poisonous, but 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 a deadly allergic reaction may result in sensitive individuals. Every body is different, so medical care is advised in the event of a bite.

Because of their large 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 (sometimes mistaken for short legs) at the front of the face. Females enjoy great longevity and have been known to have life spans of up to 20 years.
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Arachnida
      Order: Araneae
        Family: Theraphosidae
          Genus: Aphonopelma
            Species: chalcodes
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Aphonopelma chalcodes
Other Name(s): Desert Blonde Tarantula
Category: Spider
Size (Adult; Length): 50mm to 70mm (1.95in to 2.73in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: gray, brown, black, beige, tan
Descriptors: heavy, hairy, knees, biting, venomous, biting
Territorial Map
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
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Massachusetts
Michigan
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New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
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South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
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Washington
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.


Spider Anatomy
Graphic showing basic parts of spider anatomy
1
Legs: Spiders have four pairs of legs and these are attached to the cephalothorax.
2
Pedipalps: Small appendages near the mouth used as taste and smell organs.
3
Cephalothorax: Contains eyes, head, mouthparts, and legs.
4
Abdomen: Contains various organs related to digestion, reproduction, and web-making.
5
Spinnerets: Used in the production of spider silk for fashioning webs or catching prey.
NOTE: Unlike insects, spiders have both an endoskeleton (internal) and exoskeleton (external).